Lawyer goes bald to raise funds for maid's son

Ms Canete watches as hairstylist Joe Galeotti shaves off Ms Claisse's hair at the fund-raiser on Wednesday night
Ms Canete watches as hairstylist Joe Galeotti shaves off Ms Claisse's hair at the fund-raiser on Wednesday night. ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

Over $88k raised through crowdfunding and fund-raiser for boy's cancer treatment

They held hands and exchanged knowing glances as their long tresses fell to floor, amid whoops and cheers.

On Wednesday night, lawyer Isabelle Claisse, 38, and her domestic helper, Ms Mariza Canete, 30, went bald to raise funds for Ms Canete's cancer-stricken son, Dave Caba, who is being treated for bone cancer in Cebu, the Philippines.

A family friend, Mr Adam Reynolds, 49, chief executive of Saxo Capital Markets in the Asia-Pacific, also shaved his head to show support.

Ms Claisse and her husband, Mr Robert Driver, 41, are British lawyers who have been based in Singapore for nearly nine years.

They had initially paid for 10-year-old Dave's treatment out of their own pockets, but as his estimated hospitalisation and surgery costs climbed to more than US$100,000 (S$144,000), they were forced to turn to the public for help. Ms Canete has been working for them for six years.

"Mariza means the world to us, and it kills me that she is going through this," said Mr Driver at the fund-raiser on Wednesday, which was attended by more than 120 of the couple's friends and members of the public.

Ms Valentine Koh, 35, an administrative sales supervisor, went to the event after reading about Dave's plight in The Sunday Times recently.

She said: "I'm a cancer survivor and I know how painful it is to have to go through treatment. It's much more difficult for the kids, who don't quite understand what is going on. What Ms Claisse is doing is very heartwarming."

The couple have raised more than $88,000 so far from an online crowdfunding campaign, as well as from donations at the fund-raiser, which involved auctions and a quiz held at Harry's bar at Boat Quay.

The surgery to remove the cancerous tumour in Dave's left shin bone is scheduled for Jan 24, and it has an 80 per cent chance of success.

Ms Canete said fund-raising efforts so far had been "spectacular". Gesturing to the bundle of long hair in her hands, she said: "I'm holding at least $60,000 for my son's life. I don't mind losing my hair at all."

The crowdfunding campaign can be found at https://www.generosity.com/medical-fundraising/dollars-for-dave

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 16, 2016, with the headline 'Lawyer goes bald to raise funds for maid's son'. Print Edition | Subscribe