A cancer diagnosis impacts the entire family. Watching a loved one fight for their life can evoke sadness, fear, anger and even guilt. Each person copes with the struggles brought on by cancer in their own way. For “Super Siblings” like Milan Singh, Bald for Bucks allowed him to channel his feelings into action.
Connection to the Cancer Cause
Rohan Singh, 14, was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in July of 2015. He was six-years-old when he began his treatment plan that spanned more than three years.
“It wasn’t the needles. It wasn’t the pokes. It wasn’t the vomiting, the sickness, the illness. It was going bald three times. That was one of the worst parts of his cancer journey. He hated losing his hair,” said Sandhya Singh, Rohan and Milan’s mother.
Rohan’s “cure date” finally came in September of 2018.
“He’s off treatment and he’s thriving,” Sandhya explained with a smile. Rohan still lives with side effects, however, and Sandhya adds that the aftercare is a journey of its own.
As Rohan approaches his five-year survivorship mark, his family continues to find new ways to give back to Roswell Park. Most recently, Rohan’s younger brother Milan has led the charge.
Going Bald for Bucks
The Singh’s had been involved with the Bald for Bucks cause before. Rohan even participated in previous shaving events with the Buffalo Sabres.
But this past winter was different. Milan, 12, went Bald for Bucks in honor of his brother for the first time.
“It’s important to me because, as a ‘Super Sibling,’ it was very hard to see my brother go through treatment. I’m happy to see other people try to support cancer patients,” said Milan.
Rohan added, “It made me feel great to see people support other people who are still battling cancer and who lost their fight.”
The event took place at Heim Middle School, where both boys are students.
“It was very emotional when I went up there,” said Milan. “It was fun having people chant your name and watching the atmosphere for people supporting you,” said Milan.
Reflecting on the Journey
As a mother, Milan’s decision to go Bald for Bucks prompted a wave of different emotions for Sandhya.
“Through this whole Bald for Bucks journey, I realized how much Milan does care. He just internalizes it. And he really wanted to do something for his brother,” said Sandhya.
Initially, it was hard for Rohan to be reminded of his battle with cancer. Even Milan struggled to adjust to other kids staring at his newly shaved head.
“We’re all still healing, and this was very evident of that. That was very clear,” said Sandhya.
Remembering the Mission
Fighting for others: That’s what keeps Milan and Rohan focused on the bigger picture. Two of their friends, their same ages, are currently battling cancer.
The mother of one of those friends posted on social media with a message that Sandhya believes summarizes exactly why Bald for Bucks is so important.
“It was a post about how the boy showed his mom a clump of hair and he said, ‘It’s happening. I can’t hide that I’m sick anymore. Everybody is going to know,’” Sandhya recalled as she choked back tears. “And I read that to Milan, and my soon-to-be 13-year-old boy had tears in his eyes and he said, ‘I’m so happy I did Bald for Bucks.’”
Sandhya says Rohan is learning to live a cancer-free life again.
“He really celebrates life. He may not voice it, but I see it in him. He knows how hard life can be and how precious it is. We’ve lost friends, young friends, along the way, so he doesn’t sweat the little things,” she explained.
As for Milan, he doesn’t think Bald for Bucks will be a one-and-done experience for him. He might even do it again next year!
“I’m super proud of my boys; that they’re advocates and supporting this cause at a young age. They want to make a difference. That’s a result of our family being touched by the diagnosis,” said Sandhya.
The best part: Every dollar raised through Bald for Bucks supports groundbreaking research and patient-care programs at Roswell Park.
Sandhya added, “Knowing that we are making a difference and possibly saving lives and learning what Roswell Park does and the impact that it makes, it’s empowering.”