The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

September 29, 2013

Man plans to cut hair to aid cancer fight

By Robert Barron, Staff Writer
Enid News & Eagle

ENID, Okla. — An Enid man has had experience with cancer and he has seen how it affects patients and their families. And he’s decided to do something about it.

Ivan Dickey, 33, said last year both his father and sister were diagnosed with cancer. His father is a colon cancer patient and his sister has non-Hodgkins lymphoma, plus a rare type of cancer called HLH, which normally is present in children. At age 34, his sister, Brandolyn Henderson, became ill with a cold, and it brought out the HLH, he said.

“She’s doing better now, but it took a while to diagnose,” he said. “It all happened in the last year and a half, and I felt it was time to start giving something back,” Dickey said.

Dickey and his wife, Brittney, both began growing their hair to donate to the cancer assistance group Locks of Love. Brittney cut off nine inches of her hair last week and sent it to the organization. Dickey’s hair now is just over five inches long. He also began giving blood and had himself placed in the national bone marrow registry.

“Men act as tough as they can, but when it comes to donating blood, they say, ‘You’re not sticking me,’” Dickey said. He recently gave blood for the first time. He said he passed out twice and vomited twice, but said he would be back. “I bet there are people in the hospital who wish they could pass out twice and vomit twice and go home,” he said.

“Because of their illness, you sit and pray and make deals with God. When people start getting better, you better pay what you said you would,” Dickey said.

Dickey said it is strange both his father and sister could be dying of cancer and they are worried about losing their hair. He said if there is some small inconvenience for him that can make a difference for somebody else, he is willing to do it. Being on the national bone marrow registry, he said, could be a way to save someone’s life. The bone marrow registry has a cap of age 50 for donation.

“These are your neighbors. They may be around the world, or live next door — you don’t know who needs help. It’s not something you can buy on a store shelf,” he said.

Dickey said there are people who care, and he believes it is important that people who need those things know it.

When he volunteered for the national bone marrow registry, his cheek was swabbed with a Q-tip and the sample was sent in to the registry. There was no other medical procedure. People who have donated bone marrow have told him they were able to return to work the following day.

Dickey is two years younger than his sister, and he and his wife have a 9-month-old daughter. He plans to encourage his daughter to do the same thing when she is older.

“If a child is hurting, my daughter is sick and I couldn’t donate, I hope somebody out there can help me,” he said.

Brandolyn has an O-negative blood type. However, the blood must be a specific type of blood totally pathogen-free, making it more difficult to find. Sources at the hospital said they are ordering the blood from out of state.

“I hope people realize it doesn’t matter what has happened in their life — cancer doesn’t have to be a death sentence. If we all pull together and if we make some small sacrifices, small discomforts, we can allow someone else to live the rest of their life,” he said.