PEQUOT LAKES -- The men at The Word and The Pulse faith-based radio stations are showing more skin these days, but it’s for a good cause: breast cancer awareness.
The Word morning radio show host Phil Kvamme’s wife Val was diagnosed with breast cancer this summer, so he and most of the other on-air staffers -- stations manager Ric McClary, Randy Kennedy, Dave Wonders and Joe Ledford -- had their heads shaved Tuesday, Oct. 22.
“I’ve been wanting to shave my head for a long time to see how I’d look, so this gave me the perfect opportunity,” Kennedy said.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, but the topic became personal after Val was diagnosed with the disease, which is the most common cancer in women in the United States.
“After the chemo started, I started losing my hair and then I shaved it,” said Val Kvamme, a 66-year-old Nisswa resident who has been sharing her journey on her CaringBridge site.
“It’s kind of hard -- even just taking a shower, I try to wash my hair, and I forget and go, ‘Oh, yeah. There’s nothing up there,’ so sometimes I go out in a wig, sometimes I go with a hat, and sometimes I forget both and I just go out and go ‘Rats!’”
Chemotherapy drugs are powerful medications that attack rapidly growing cancer cells, including those in a person’s hair roots, which may cause hair loss all over the body.
“I don’t have to shave my legs anymore,” Val Kvamme said gamely of her hair loss. “It’s exterior and that’s not where my identity comes from, so I think the main part is knowing your identity in Christ and knowing you’ve got a secure identity no matter what you look like.”
Minnesota Christian Broadcasters Inc. owns and operates the faith-based stations. Listeners can tune in to The Word in the Brainerd lakes area at 102.7 FM and in St. Cloud at 91.5 FM. The Pulse is broadcast from Breezy Point and can be heard at 104.3 FM.
“There’s always the fear of frostbite,” Wonders told Cindy Couture-Noies, owner of Salon Couture, as his hair fell to the ground of the Pequot Lakes hair salon when she shaved it off.
Couture-Noies said, “Amy Stone is a customer of mine, and she works with, I believe, all of these gentlemen, and she called me.”
The men were in good spirits and joked as their locks of hair quickly became a thing of the past as they had their heads shaved by the salon staff.
“Other than supporting someone who is dealing with a serious illness, I can’t see an upside,” McClary deadpanned. “I’m not too vain about my hair. I don’t think I am anyways. We’ll find out in a minute.”
Kennedy said his hair color was blond as a child, brunette as an adult and gray as he grew older.
“This is the first time I’m not going to have any hair. … If I look younger without hair, I’ll leave it that way for sure,” Kennedy said as he sat in the salon chair to have his head shaved.
When they learned about Val Kvamme’s diagnosis, what to do next wasn’t a real head-scratcher for Phil Kvamme, and local radio announcers McClary, Kennedy, Wonders and Ledford.
“I’m an old hand at getting my head shaved,” said Ledford, The Pulse morning show host with a receding hairline.
Wonders, The Pulse program director, said jokingly, “He’s got a head start on the rest of us.”
The Word’s mission is to “serve Central Minnesota listeners by evangelizing with the Gospel, equipping for living the Christian faith and encouraging through building relationships.”
“I feel grateful that these guys would do this during Breast Cancer Awareness Month and because Val’s going through the chemo, herself, and will look like we will,” said Phil Kvamme, The Word program director.
Val Kvamme’s health journal
Learn more about Val Kvamme’s breast cancer diagnosis and her personal journey dealing with the disease at her CaringBridge site at www.caringbridge.org/visit/valkvamme/journal.