Shaving heads in solidarity

LAKELAND | Staff from St. Joseph Catholic Parish in Lakeland shaved their heads to support St. Joseph Academy Principal, Jessica Yarnall Bruchey, in her fight against cancer. It was the idea of parish operations manager, Andrew LoFaro, who encouraged Pastor Tim LaBo and Louis Canter, parish pastoral assistant to join in.

Bruchey was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia in August and has a long road ahead. After learning Bruchey’s chemotherapy was causing her to lose her hair, LoFaro wanted to do something to show his support. He and Canter were planning to head to the barber when Father LaBo mentioned he needed a haircut. The pastor was immediately on board.

“She (Bruchey) has contributed much to our community and our school children,” said Father LaBo. “She has given her time, talent and giftedness to serve us and help form our community there at the school, so we want to support her as she continues on her journey trying to recover from this illness.”

He added, “I think of St. Paul’s image of the body of Christ. We are all part of the body. When one part of the body is experiencing sickness or infirmity, then all of us are experiencing that. I believe it’s showing the sign that we’re unified; we’re together; we support each other. That’s what unity is. That’s what Catholicism is. I believe that’s what our faith is.”

For Canter, who is fighting bone cancer, the commitment hits close to home. He has the same doctor as Bruchey and his treatments are working. He said, “I look in the mirror and it’s a reminder to pray for Jessie and all those with cancer. It’s a nice physical reminder.”

LoFaro jokes that his “head has been cold since this happened,” but is genuinely grateful for his colleagues’ display of love. Looking on the bright side, Canter noted, “A friend thought I look 10 years younger. I may keep it.”

Meanwhile, Bruchey is lifted up in prayer, in her community and throughout the diocese. “It’s important for us to share with each other,” said Father LaBo.

By Glenda Meekins of the Florida Catholic September 04, 2019