When it comes to helping fund pediatric cancer research, Paul Robertson is sure glad that people like to see him bald. This will be Robertson’s sixth year being involved with St Baldrick’s Foundation, a childhood research foundation in which during some fundraisers the participants go under the clippers.
So far, Robertson has personally raised more than $5,000 for the foundation, and the teams he has been a part of have raised more than $500,000 for pediatric cancer research.
“I think it’s very important to be involved in something that’s bigger than yourself,” Robertson said. “It keeps you grounded and humble, and it reminds you of how blessed you truly are. You get back more than you could ever give, and I’m reminded of that each year I do St Baldrick’s.”
Robertson’s past and his career are closely linked with the fight against cancer, so it’s only natural that St. Baldrick’s has a special calling for him.
He graduated from Portage High School in 1999 and went on to the Porter Memorial Hospital School of Radiologic Technology, graduating in 2001. This was right after he began his career at Porter Memorial Hospital. Today he works as an x-ray technician at Midwest X-Ray.
“Emergency medicine has always been my favorite,” Robertson said. “In my career, I have been able to work in trauma centers in Las Vegas, Detroit, and Indianapolis. I’m now working for a mobile x-ray company performing x-rays in Northwest Indiana and the Chicagoland area at local nursing homes and for homebound patients.”
Robertson had been interested in radiology in high school. The summer before his senior year he was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and he spent his summer at Porter Memorial Hospital and University of Chicago Hospital.
Through more testing, they found that he did not have cancer after all, but it did give him the passion for living out the rest of his life helping those who are battling the disease.
“I wouldn’t want to go through all of that again, but I’m very glad it happened,” Robertson said. “It affected every aspect of my life from my career path to my faith. I feel like I was given a second chance and I’d be wasting it if I wasn’t involved in giving back somehow. Because of my illness in high school, I knew I wanted to be involved in pediatric cancer research. I would love to know that one day, through St. Baldrick’s, a cure was found and that I was a small part of that. Just by growing out my hair and growing this spectacular beard, I am able to be a part of something huge. It’s crazy to me who and how many people are willing to donate to see you bald. It’s a great charity and a great event.”
In his time fundraising for St Baldrick‘s, Robertson has some amazing memories that motivate him to keep going strong for the cause. One year, a family friend’s daughter was going through treatment for bone cancer and she came to the head shaving event.
“During the event she took off her scarf that she had been wearing when she was in public,” Robertson said. “She didn’t have to be afraid or ashamed of her hair, because everyone thought she was just one of the shavees. Everybody was bald!”
This upcoming fundraising year is especially important to Robertson for personal reasons. A friend who helped him organize a fundraiser wrestling event for St. Baldrick’s found out his son had a brain tumor, and they organized events and fundraisers to help support Paxton’s Army, which was created to fight against cancer.
Robertson said anyone interested can sign up for The Paxton’s Army team at www.StBaldricks.org, and the next head shave fundraising event is on April 7th at the Chicago Wolves game.
“Paxton ultimately lost his battle in October 2017,” Robertson said. “This year his dad is shaving his head and our team name is Paxton‘s Army. Our team will have complete strangers as well as family friends, including a woman who shaved her head last year as well.”
Robertson, born in Crown Point and raised in Portage, has lived in a variety of cities in and out of state, but has always called the Region home.
“I like Northwest Indiana because it’s where I’m from,” Robertson said. “We lived in Detroit, Las Vegas, and Indianapolis, but there is nothing like living where you are from. I have friends here. I have family here. When it was time to start our own family, my wife, who’s from Hobart, and I, knew we wanted to be back here. I love being around our family. It’s also very special to take my kids to parks I used to play at, or go to places that I loved as a kid and see them love it as much as I did.”
He lives in Portage with his wife of 11 years, Rhiannon, and children, Shannon, 6, and Mateo, 5.
“They are another reason that I participate in St. Baldricks,” Robertson said. “We hope that we will never have to hear the words, ‘Your child has cancer,’ but we know that by continuing to fund research for pediatric cancer, we will hopefully be able to hear soon that, ‘Don’t worry, we have found a cure.’”