Attorney will shave head in honor of son

Jennifer Nelson
February 23, 2010
Back to TopE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

An attorney hopes people will ask her why she's bald. She's shaving her head next month to raise money for childhood cancer research.

Briget Polichene Chamness is going to shave her brown locks in celebration of the fifth anniversary of her son, Joey, being cancer free. Joey was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer, in January 2005 when he was eight years old. He had a year of chemotherapy at Riley Children's Hospital in Indianapolis and surgery to remove the tumor in New York City.

Around that time, her husband learned of St. Baldrick's Foundation, a nonprofit that raises money for childhood cancer research by hosting worldwide head-shaving events. The foundation funds more in childhood cancer research than any other organization except the U.S. government.

Since her son got sick, Chamness said her husband and other family members have shaved their heads, some every year. Even her teenage daughter did it once. She said she's partly shaving her head out of empathy for the young girls she saw losing their hair because of chemotherapy.

"I'm trying to think of it as my gosh, here I am a 50-year-old woman who's not sick, and I'm apprehensive for losing my hair," she said. "It makes me empathetic."

Shaving her head will also open her up to questions from strangers who don't know why she's bald. She'll be wearing headscarves and knows that when people see women who have lost their hair, it's often assumed they are sick.

"St. Baldrick's recognizes that in the case of women, and they give you a big button to wear that says "Ask me why I'm bald," she said.

To raise money for the head-shaving event, Chamness sent e-mails to her college and law school classmates, friends in Indianapolis and Washington, D.C., where she worked before moving to Indiana, and professional colleagues. Chamness first worked at as chief counsel at the Indiana Department of Insurance after moving here. She later practiced at Baker & Daniels and was chief privacy officer at Conseco before joining Citigroup's government relations group, where she works as the liaison between businesses and state lobbyists.

Most people raising money for St. Baldrick's just take pledges and will shave their head no matter what, but some do say that they will only do it if they hit a certain goal. Chamness decided she'd shave her head without a specific dollar amount in mind, although she had a goal of $5,000. She's surpassed that and is up to $7,300. She's part of a team named after Joey, which has 35 people who will shave their heads. The team has raised nearly $40,000, she said.

Everyone will have their heads shaved at the same time on stage at the Northside Knights of Columbus in Indianapolis at 6:30 p.m. March 12. There will be food, beer, and a band playing as well, Chamness said.

She'd like to see more people donate to the cause because of the work St. Baldrick's does. She hopes no one has to go through what she has with her son, but because of his illness, recognizes how wonderful Riley Hospital is. Riley often receives research grants from St. Baldrick's.

"It's a great resource, and I hope that the legal community will continue to be supportive of it in various ways," she said.

Visit Chamness' team's web page, if you'd like more information about St. Baldrick's or want to donate.


Sponsored by
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  1. Especially I would like to see all the republican voting patriotic good ole boys to stop and understand that the wars they have been volunteering for all along (especially the past decade at least) have not been for God & Jesus etc no far from it unless you think George Washington's face on the US dollar is god (and we know many do). When I saw the movie about Chris Kyle, I thought wow how many Hoosiers are just like this guy, out there taking orders to do the nasty on the designated bad guys, sometimes bleeding and dying, sometimes just serving and coming home to defend a system that really just views them as reliable cannon fodder. Maybe if the Christians of the red states would stop volunteering for the imperial legions and begin collecting welfare instead of working their butts off, there would be a change in attitude from the haughty professorial overlords that tell us when democracy is allowed and when it isn't. To come home from guarding the borders of the sandbox just to hear if they want the government to protect this country's borders then they are racists and bigots. Well maybe the professorial overlords should gird their own loins for war and fight their own battles in the sandbox. We can see what kind of system this really is from lawsuits like this and we can understand who it really serves. NOT US.... I mean what are all you Hoosiers waving the flag for, the right of the president to start wars of aggression to benefit the Saudis, the right of gay marriage, the right for illegal immigrants to invade our country, and the right of the ACLU to sue over displays of Baby Jesus? The right of the 1 percenters to get richer, the right of zombie banks to use taxpayer money to stay out of bankruptcy? The right of Congress to start a pissing match that could end in WWIII in Ukraine? None of that crud benefits us. We should be like the Amish. You don't have to go far from this farcical lawsuit to find the wise ones, they're in the buggies in the streets not far away....

  2. Moreover, we all know that the well heeled ACLU has a litigation strategy of outspending their adversaries. And, with the help of the legal system well trained in secularism, on top of the genuinely and admittedly secular 1st amendment, they have the strategic high ground. Maybe Christians should begin like the Amish to withdraw their services from the state and the public and become themselves a "people who shall dwell alone" and foster their own kind and let the other individuals and money interests fight it out endlessly in court. I mean, if "the people" don't see how little the state serves their interests, putting Mammon first at nearly every turn, then maybe it is time they wake up and smell the coffee. Maybe all the displays of religiosity by American poohbahs on down the decades have been a mask of piety that concealed their own materialistic inclinations. I know a lot of patriotic Christians don't like that notion but I entertain it more and more all the time.

  3. If I were a judge (and I am not just a humble citizen) I would be inclined to make a finding that there was no real controversy and dismiss them. Do we allow a lawsuit every time someone's feelings are hurt now? It's preposterous. The 1st amendment has become a sword in the hands of those who actually want to suppress religious liberty according to their own backers' conception of how it will serve their own private interests. The state has a duty of impartiality to all citizens to spend its judicial resources wisely and flush these idiotic suits over Nativity Scenes down the toilet where they belong... however as Christians we should welcome them as they are the very sort of persecution that separates the sheep from the wolves.

  4. What about the single mothers trying to protect their children from mentally abusive grandparents who hide who they truly are behind mounds and years of medication and have mentally abused their own children to the point of one being in jail and the other was on drugs. What about trying to keep those children from being subjected to the same abuse they were as a child? I can understand in the instance about the parent losing their right and the grandparent having raised the child previously! But not all circumstances grant this being OKAY! some of us parents are trying to protect our children and yes it is our God given right to make those decisions for our children as adults!! This is not just black and white and I will fight every ounce of this to get denied

  5. Mr Smith the theory of Christian persecution in Indiana has been run by the Indiana Supreme Court and soundly rejected there is no such thing according to those who rule over us. it is a thought crime to think otherwise.