Greenville barista shaves head, inspired by teenage cancer survi - FOX Carolina 21

Greenville barista shaves head, inspired by teenage cancer survivor

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It was over coffee and schoolwork that an Upstate barista said she was inspired by a 14-year-old fighting brain cancer.

Julia Dandeneau's grandparents have both shaved their heads to raise money for children's cancer research at Greenville's St. Baldrick's event in the past. This year, it was Julia's turn, but since she now finally has her own hair growing back, she didn't want to shave it again for the fundraiser.

That's when an unlikely good friend stepped up for the cause.

Britteni O'cain works as a barista at the Starbucks in downtown Greenville. She's gotten to know Julia by her typical Frappuccino order and her sweet disposition.

"With so many treatments and surgeries at that age, and going through school and losing hair, and the insecurity that might provide for her … to always be so optimistic and happy, just like, ‘Yeah, just another day going to the hospital!' It was really inspiring to me," O'cain said about getting to know Julia over the last few years.

Julia's grandfather, Ernie Dandeneau, said her brain cancer has been in remission for a year and a half though through dozens of surgeries, radiation and with rounds of chemotherapy. He said she's had pieces of her brain removed, which means losing some brain function along the way.

"[Those are the] ramifications of having everything done to you. But we're still here. We're still fighting. And for Julia, it's a lifelong journey. It doesn't stop tomorrow or the day after," Ernie Dandeneau explained.

He said that he and his granddaughter, who live in Easley, would start their trips to Greenville hospitals and doctors' offices with a stop at Starbucks. Ernie said as they sat at the counter where the baristas worked, they chatted with O'cain, who had always been especially sweet to Julia.

O'cain understands the journey that the Dandenaus travel. She said her own father died from colon cancer six years ago.

"It made me really not sweat small things. Little dramas aren't big deals. [A] big deal is life, big deal is opportunity. A big deal is loving other people," said O'cain.

She's run races in support of cancer research and donated lengths of hair, for Locks of Love, but shaving her head for St. Baldrick's was her newest goal to give back.

O'cain said she thought she'd be sad, and maybe even cry, when her head was shaved, "but seeing [Julia's] joy and how much fun she was having at the event, and all my friends and my mom that was here to support me, it was really just an awesome experience."

Julia even got to help snip O'cain's locks at the event next to the Reedy River on March 16.

The fact that O'cain shaved her head made Julia "really happy."

"She's doing it for a really good cause, for kids that are going through the same thing I did," Julia said.

O'cain said that she braced herself to embrace whatever insecurity that may come with not having hair, knowing that Julia and so many others didn't have the option.

She explained that childhood cancers don't often get the funding that others may get, so St. Baldrick's is such a worthy cause.

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