Bald Barbie Brings Joy for Cancer Patients [VIDEO]
People who face cancer regardless of age need a lot of support from family and friends as they go through an incredibly hard time. As a way of helping patients and their loved ones during this stressful time, Valerie Paul has teamed up with the BASE camp, which is a Winter Park children's cancer foundation, in order to give cancer patients bald Barbie dolls.
Paul, 46, first came up with this idea after she lost her friend and co-worker, Audrey Unkle to cancer. Unkle had suffered from Stage IV ovarian cancer and passed away in August 2012. Paul remembered that one of the side effects of cancer treatment that affected her friend the most was hair loss.
"I literally thought, 'OK, if my friend was this anxious about the way she looked, what would I feel like if I was a child going through chemo? Or if I was a child that my mommy was going through chemo?'" Valerie said according to the Detroit Free Press. "It just became a mission."
Paul went online and searched bald Barbie to see if this product was already available. She only found one seller who had five Barbie heads. Paul quickly bought them and started replacing the heads of Barbie dolls with hairless versions. She then sought out the help of a friend, Wanda Schultz, 70, who is a breast cancer survivor.
Together, the team contacted the Ronald McDonald House seeking to donate their dolls to children cancer patients. However, on one particular afternoon, Paul watched the episode of Ellen that featured Talia Joy Castanello, a 13-year-old child who was afflicted with terminal cancer. Despite her diagnosis, Castanello continued to share make-up videos and tips on YouTube, touching everyone who watched her. It was then that Paul decided that her dolls would be donated to patients at Nemours and Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children.
Paul ended up donated over 300 bald Barbie dolls and 75 sewn baby dolls. Paul and Schultz learned about the Nemours and Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children after volunteering at BASE camp, which is a foundation that offers year-round programs for children cancer patients. Castanello had helped raise over $100,000 for this foundation.
"I love making them," Paul stated. "And they talk to me. They tell me what they want to be. I know that sounds crazy. They literally do, they tell me who they want to be."