Eighteen months ago, the idea of showing his scar to the world would have horrified Ryland Bell.
But today the 24-year-old Bendigo resident bravely shaved his head – and revealed the impressive mark – to raise money for blood cancer research.
Mr Bell, who has scar on his scalp from a childhood operation, said the haircut heralded a new phase in his life, having worked closely with his Western District Employment Access case workers to develop confidence and trust.
WDEA assists people living with a disability to prepare for and gain sustainable employment.
“I was bulletproof,” he said, when asked to describe his old self.
“I put up a rough facade.
“Over time, [WDEA workers] slowly made me realise it’s okay to trust people.
“I know when I walk in here next week, they’re not going to call me a knucklehead.”
Mr Bell’s first case manager, Rochelle Whalen, helped clip back her client’s brunette locks on Friday.
“Clients come in and their condition isn’t the biggest barrier, it’s their confidence and self-esteem, Ms Whalen said.
The World’s Greatest Shave initiative is the latest in a series of fundraising efforts from Mr Bell, who in the last year has run marathons for the Peter McCallum Institute and taken part in the Bendigo fun-run, benefits of which go to the city’s hospital.
His community contributions were a way to prove his physical and mental capabilities.
“I was once told if you put in the hard work, it’ll come off, so I thought, ‘Let’s give it a go’,” Mr Bell said.
WDEA continue to assist Mr Bell in his ambition to work with animals.
Friday’s close shave went smoother than the previous time the man opted to part with his hair; on that occasion, six months of growth broke the hairdressers’ clippers.
“Halfway through, smoke came out of it,” Mr Bell said, laughing.
Benefits from the World’s Greatest Shave got to the Leukaemia Foundation. More than 60,000 Australians are living with blood cancer or related disorders, and every day another 35 people will be diagnosed.
One Australian dies from blood cancer every two hours, the country’s third deadliest cancer.