Blue Line

Shave for the brave

May 7, 2015  By Danette Dooley

The commanding officer of the RCMP in Newfoundland and Labrador is throwing her support behind a cause dear to her heart while also supporting one of her own by shaving her head for cancer.

Asst. Comm. Tracy Hardy and her team of RCMP officers have partnered with Young Adult Cancer Canada (YACC). The organization’s mission is to help young adults move through and beyond their cancer experiences by providing information, support, skills and opportunity through web-based and face-to-face programs.

It costs about $2,000 to support one young person living with cancer, Hardy said. The force has set a goal of raising $200,000 to change 100 lives.

“We are getting lots of support. I have the support of one of our employees’ five-year-old daughter. She and I are going to shave together,” Hardy said during an interview at “B” Division headquarters in early May.


Every year in Canada some 7,000 young adults face a cancer diagnosis; that works out to an average 19 people a day, Hardy said.

Hardy’s shave will be in honour of RCMP Const. Jamie Carswell of Alberta.

Carswell joined the RCMP in 2007 at age 23. Two weeks into training she discovered a lump in her left breast. “She had an injury so (the lump) was originally attributed to a pulled muscle,” Hardy said.

However, after being in her first posting in British Columbia for only a month, Carswell was diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer.

Carswell was transferred back to Alberta to be closer to her family and friends. She endured eight rounds of chemotherapy to shrink the tumour enough to have surgery and radiation.

During her radiation treatments, a nurse suggested that Carswell seek support from YACC. Carswell became friends with other young adults who understood what she was going through at a YACC “Retreat Yourself” weekend in Montreal.

In 2013 Carswell became a mother to a baby via a surrogate, all the while with continuing support from her YACC friends.

However, when her baby was only three months old, she was diagnosed with a recurrence of cancer and began more treatments.

“Jamie is an inspiration. She now provides support to other young people dealing with cancer. She’s become a resource for them now,” Hardy said.

{Strong support appreciated}

Carswell is now posted in Blackfalds, in the Red Deer area of Alberta, and is grateful for the support she’s received from YACC.

“This is a support I didn’t realize I needed until I found them. Then, once I was there, it was just really good to connect with people going through the same things that I was going through at that time in my life.”

Carswell is also grateful for the support she has received from the RCMP since her cancer diagnosis.

“The RCMP allowed me to move back to Red Deer where I could get the support I needed from my family… they allowed me to come in and out of the office based on how I was feeling. I’m currently working at getting back out there now and am just about full-time in the office. I’m retraining now and will hopefully be back at it in the fall.”

Carswell said it’s “awesome” that the commanding officer of the RCMP in Newfoundland and Labrador had stepped up to the plate to shave her head.

“Tracy is a person that everyone looks up to. It’s good to see one of the higher-ups want to get out there and spread the word about what YACC is doing.”

{Leadership by example}

YACC founder and executive director Geoff Eaton is a cancer survivor. Eaton describes young adults with cancer as “the forgotten generation.”

He’s delighted with the RCMP partnership. Hardy is demonstrating his favourite kind of leadership – leadership by example, Eaton said.

“We have a growing group of engaged RCMP members and civilian staff. The whole team has rallied around the leadership of Tracy and they are committed to making a fundamental change in the lives of 100 young adults dealing with cancer,” Eaton said.

During the past decade YACC had raised more than $3 million dollars through shave events.

Partnerships like the one forged with the RCMP are invaluable to his organization, Eaton said.

{An honour}

A woman in a high profile position, Hardy admits it took a little bit of time for her to commit to the shave.

She’s proud now that she’s supporting such a worthy cause, joining members from across the province during a shave set for May 26 at RCMP headquarters.

“This is just a tiny sacrifice on my part. It’s an honour for me as commanding officer to be able to be a bit of a conduit for Jamie to expand on her ability to tell her story,” Hardy said.

The money raised prior to, during and after the event will go towards YACC programs and services. However, just as importantly, Hardy said, the event will help raise awareness about these programs and services.

Hardy encourages other police forces to come onboard and support YACC either financially or by organizing their own shave events. Information about the shave can be found at <>. YACC’s web site is <>.

“Family and friends are important but that peer support can provide an extra level of support that you can only get from someone that’s been there,” Hardy said.

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