Dean Brownworth was one of more than 200 students to have their heads shaved at Sanford H. Calhoun High School’s annual fundraiser to benefit the St. Baldrick’s Foundation on March 19. But his barber left some blond fuzz behind, at the suggestion of his mother, Sandra. She explained that her 17-year-old-son had already lost his hair four times in the past year.
Dean went bald for the first time shortly before last year’s St. Baldrick’s event. On March 20, 2012, he visited his school for the charity event after a seven-week stay in a hotel near Massachusetts General Hospital. He had just completed 30 radiation treatments after doctors removed a cancerous tumor from his brain.
A year later, after radiation and rounds of chemotherapy, Dean wasn’t just visiting Calhoun for the fundraiser for childhood cancer research. He was enrolled in classes again, and he wasn’t throwing up every day anymore. He even joked that it felt nice to be bald again, even though Calhoun Principal David Seinfeld said Dean didn’t have to shave his head to participate in the St. Baldrick’s event.
“My hair was growing back, but I mean, I needed a haircut anyway,” he said with a smile. “It was my decision.”
The Calhoun senior not only raised nearly $5,000 for the cancer research charity, but also inspired many in the Merrick community by overcoming the disease himself.
Wayne Brownworth recalled that his youngest son was a healthy teenager in November 2011, and was gearing up for basketball season at Calhoun. One night after practice, Dean slipped in the shower and hit the back of his head. Several days later, his parents took him to the emergency room because he began showing symptoms of a concussion.
In accordance with Bellmore-Merrick Central High School District policy, Dean had to visit a neurologist to be cleared to play basketball. He already had one, Sandra said, because he had suffered from migraines since he was young. Dr. Rami Grossman ordered a precautionary MRI, which showed that Dean had a 2½-centimeter tumor in his brain that was growing rapidly.