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Brave, bald and giving back

Young cancer survivor shaves head for fifth time

Zach Chapman, an eighth-grade student at Shabbona Middle School, is bravely sporting a bald head for the sixth time.

Once was for reasons out of Zach’s control. The other and five were in support of St. Baldrick’s.

St. Baldrick’s is the world’s largest volunteer-driven fundraising program for childhood cancer research. From shaving heads at volunteer-planned St. Baldrick’s events to running races to contacting members of Congress, St. Baldrick’s Foundation volunteers are helping kids with cancer in many different ways.

Why would Zach volunteer to be a “Shavee” for St. Baldrick’s five times you might wonder? All St. Baldrick’s “shavees” are raising funds for lifesaving childhood cancer research, research that had a hand in saving Zach’s life.

When Zach received his cancer diagnosis, he was a rowdy 8-year-old boy in the second grade.

One night in 2007, Zach was experiencing abnormal pain, which resulted in a trip to the hospital.

During Zach’s visit to the Emergency Room, multiple tests were run in hopes of finding the cause of his pain. As test results started to come back, doctors began to suspect that Zach was battling a form of childhood cancer.

Zach and his mom recollect the next 24 hours, which they remember as a whirlwind. An ambulance quickly transferred Zack to Christ Hope Children’s Hospital in Oak Lawn, his new home away from home. Once settled into the hospital, more diagnostic tests were run and a diagnosis was made.

Zach was diagnosed with Acute Myelogenous Leukemia (AML), a fast-growing cancer of the blood and the bone marrow. Once the diagnosis was made, treatment started quickly.

Zach received five rounds of traditional Chemotherapy, in addition to Spinal Chemotherapy.

Throughout treatment, Zach battled multiple fevers and infections, which resulted in lengthy hospital stays. But, to him, the hardest part of being sick was not being able to be a normal kid. Zach missed playing outside and being around his friends.

In July of 2007, Zach completed treatment for his AML and was declared to be in remission.

In 2009, Zach decided that he wanted to give back and participated in his first St. Baldrick’s event. This year was Zach’s fifth time being a St. Baldrick’s “Shavee.”

Teachers, administrators, and students from Shabbona Middle School were just a few of the contributors that helped Zach raise over $500 for St. Baldrick’s this year.

Life is back to normal for the Chapman family. Zach is halfway through his eighth grade year and thriving both academically and physically.

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