If you were to run into Josh and Andrew on an ordinary day, you would find them playing basketball, playing with Andrew’s dogs or having races together to determine who the fastest is (which more often than not, turned out to be Andrew).
For the past while though, life for Andrew has not been ordinary and the activities these friends do together has changed, highlighted recently by a new haircut. A pediatric patient with the Cancer Centre of Southeastern Ontario, Andrew has been undergoing treatment for leukemia that has resulted in nausea, loss of energy and loss of hair.
Wanting to help his friend feel better about these changes, Josh decided to grow his hair out and let Andrew take control of the scissors and give him a look that would reflect Andrew’s own.
“I’ve been growing my hair out for over two years now and when Andrew asked if I could match his hairstyle, I didn’t even hesitate,” says Josh Ehlrich. “Anything I can do to help make him feel better, I will.”
Andrew and Josh first met three years ago through a local community organization, Extra Awesome, which provides academic support and physical activity for Kingston youth with disabilities and their siblings. Their time together through Extra Awesome built a strong friendship between these two.
“When we first learned that Andrew was sick, he and Josh hadn’t seen one another in a bit but when we told Josh, he immediately travelled from Toronto to come visit with Andrew,” says Karen, mom of Andrew. “When I learned that Josh was planning to have his hair cut to match Andrews, it brought me to tears; it shows the kind of friendship these two have.”
On a sunny Friday afternoon, Josh, Andrew and a handful of friends and family met in the hair salon of the Kingston General Hospital site to give Josh a new look. Andrew took the fateful first cut and in a matter of a few minutes, Josh and Andrew had identical shorn heads. All of Josh’s hair was donated to Pantene Beautiful Length’s program which creates wigs for women who have experienced hair loss due to their cancer treatment.
When asked if he had any last-minute nerves or regret, Josh was quick to smile and give a confident ‘no”.
“Andrew is my best friend and I would do anything to help a friend, and I know he would do the same for me.”