In August 2013 I was being streamlined through the NHS with having suspected lymphoma as a tumor was identified in my neck and chest as a result of the quick decisions made by my GP. It took just a few weeks before being diagnosed with Hodgkin Lymphoma at King’s College London. After being told that the chemotherapy treatment would start immediately, I had little time to make adjustments around my busy work and social life.
I work for a company in central London called Rovi where outside of my normal remit I also collaborate with a friend, Anna Leikas, on the Social Events Committee. We decided that we wanted to raise money and awareness for the leading UK blood cancer charity, Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research and build a light-hearted campaign around it. The idea of making beards iconic to our campaign rose from the fact that I would inevitably be losing my trademark ginger beard as a result of the cancer treatment, a fact that is widely unrecognised in current cancer awareness. The fake beard idea was also seen as a fun and original way to grab people’s attention.
Our campaign quickly went global as Rovi offices in Luxembourg and around the United States decided to take part. International Rovi Beard Day: Oct 4th 2013 was born and in less than two weeks each location assembled a beard crew and had made contact with their local blood cancer charities. Participating offices included Radnor, Pennsylvania; Ann Arbor, Michigan; Santa Clara, California; and New York City. With determination and team spirit, each office managed to pull this off with great success.
Thousands of dollars in donations were raised, which will be doubled by Rovi through its matched gift program. In addition to Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research, charities that will benefit include Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Greater Los Angeles, Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of New York, and DKMS in Germany.
Anna and I were truly delighted by all the support, spontaneity and team spirit demonstrated by everyone involved. This has been a great step in developing our Rovi culture by everyone working together towards a mutual goal, without financial benefit but fully for the sake of goodwill and some fun.
I have since successfully completed the three cycles of chemotherapy which will be followed up with seventeen treatments of radiotherapy beginning mid-December. In the meantime our Rovi Community Outreach Committee are running The Great Rovi Quiz in aid of Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research.