Story last updated at 3/19/2014 - 1:36 pm
There's a lesson in baldness.
On March 15, Salt restaurant (formerly Zephyr) was packed with patrons wearing green. This wasn't an early St. Patrick's Day party - this was St. Baldrick's Day.
For the fifth consecutive year, a group of Juneau residents organized an event to promote the St. Baldrick's Foundation, which is dedicated to fighting childhood cancer.
On Saturday at Salt, three barber chairs sat on an elevated stage next to the restaurant's plate-glass window.
Just after 4 o'clock, the hair started flying. My turn came quickly.
St. Baldrick's events are like the Relay for Life, Dance Marathon, or Jump for Life. Participants collect pledges from friends and coworkers, but instead of running, dancing or jump-roping, they promise to give up their hair.
Each person who sat in a barber chair on Saturday was shaved bald or donated a foot or more of hair to Locks of Love, an organization that creates wigs for chemotherapy patients.
At Salt, 87 participants raised almost $27,000 for St. Baldrick's Foundation. Among the first participants was Catherine Hill-Cristobal, who works for the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services.
Hill-Cristobal saw a flyer promoting the event and thought it was a great idea.
"My husband doesn't know I'm here," she said after descending from the barber chair and donning a cap.
My turn came next, and my hair went quickly.
I didn't expect that my beard would go, too - but the event's enthusiastic emcee started an auction.
A woman in the back of the restaurant pledged $60, and the beard disappeared.
Looking in the mirror afterward, I realized how much I hated my new look. My pear-shaped head needs hair for balance, and I now look as pale as a bowl of mashed potatoes.
The St. Baldrick's Foundation says the head-shaving aspect of its events is a way to show support for kids with cancer.
Looking into that mirror, I realized there's another message. Each year, about 13,400 children are diagnosed with cancer. For them, there is no option - they WILL lose their hair in chemotherapy or radiation treatment.
Whenever any one of them looks in the mirror, there is no hiding from their illness, no denial: the evidence is right there.
Now, when I look in the mirror, I'm reminded of them, of people like Joey Fox, who spoke at Saturday's event.
Fox was 19 when he was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma. "It was in my chest, my abdomen and my neck," he explained, occasionally breaking down in tears as he explained his story.
Fox tried to deny his illness. He underwent chemotherapy but tried to keep up his regular schedule. After a treatment session, he'd keep his golfing appointment with friends, then throw up across the golf course.
When he lost his hair, his friends shaved theirs as a sign of support.
He beat cancer, but many kids don't.
Now, each time I look in a mirror, I'll be thinking of them.
To learn more about the St. Baldrick's Foundation, visit www.stbaldricks.org.