(Editor's note: This story was updated on March 17, 2012, with our interview with Charlie's mom Sandy.)
Charlie Futhey is bald. And he knows it. In fact, he’s so OK with it that the 9-year-old cancer warrior from Rose Hill, Kansas, has created the latest YouTube sensation with a video of him performing a riff off the popular LMFAO song “I’m sexy and I know it.”
Charlie’s version has him – clad in a dapper, royal blue button-down, jeans and socks that make him slide across a shiny wood floor – busting some moves and singing his own lyrics:
“People look at my head, ah! People look at my head, ah! People look at my head, ah! I -- I have cancer!...
"When I walk in the spot, and this is what I see: everybody stops and comes toward me! I got passion in my heart, and I ain't afraid to show it, show it, show it -- I'm bald and I know it."
Charlie’s big, bubbly personality shines through the video, just as it has throughout his years of arduous cancer treatments.
He has a rare and aggressive form of cancer – Desmoplastic Round Cell Tumors. Charlie, who is in third grade, has been battling it for four years, his mom writes on his CaringBridge page. After being cancer free for two years, in January he got a diagnosis that the cancer was back. So he has begun another round of chemo, which has caused his hair to fall out again.
Charlie told KWCH CBS-12 in Wichita that he made the video “because it would be cool to have a song and to put it on YouTube.” (It was shot by his aunt Stephanie, who is heard cheering at the end of it.)
Parents Sandy and Daryl Futhey are proud of their son’s courage and determination since being diagnosed at age 5. Since that time, the Futhey family also lost Sandy’s mother to cancer.
Sandy Futhey says the discovery of more tumors in January felt like "a punch in the stomach.”
“It was just as sad hearing it the second time. Yes, it’s familiar territory. But we had a whole new set of questions and worries,” she says.
For Charlie, the news of his cancer’s return was confusing. “But I did my time,” he told his mom. “Why is it back?”
Once the family accepted their new fate, it was time to be proactive. Charlie discovered his hair was falling out during a basketball practice. He came home and told his mom it was time to go bald again.
He was, however, worried how his fellow third graders would take his new look. The next day, Sandy went to Charlie’s school and explained to classmates why Charlie was losing his hair. The kids had lots of questions, but the discussion put everyone at ease. After school, it was a trip to his hair stylist to get shaved.
Charlie, who is an avid basketball and NASCAR fan and loves to play Xbox, takes his baldness in stride. He loves to sing and dance, and made up the “Bald and I know it” lyrics and dance moves on his own, his mom says. At basketball games, he has all the players rub his head for good luck.
Beyond his family and school friends, Charlie has inspired others fighting cancer. Sidney Brush has breast cancer and, like Charlie, lost her hair after chemo treatments. In a message to Charlie on his CaringBridge page, she wrote:
I started losing my hair two weeks after starting chemo and had my husband shave my head rather then wait for it to fall out. I wish I had heard your song back then because it would have made me feel better. It's slowly growing back and my daughters say I look like a peach…Your story and your song have made me feel really good. I have been really nervous about starting radiation. After hearing that you have battled cancer twice, I feel so much better. You have given me strength.
Charlie faces 18 months of chemo and has done two sessions so far. It’s a scenario that would cause any parent pain. But when you see this beaming, beautiful, bald boy dancing, you see why his family has hope.
“He does have passion in his heart,” Sandy Futhey says. “I’ve never met anyone like it – when he walks in to a room, people are drawn to him. He just has that spirit.”
The Futhey family hopes the video will help to inspire other kids and families facing the cancer challenge.
It is the “worst thing ever to get the news that your child has cancer,” says Futhey. “We want Charlie’s video to be an inspiration that you can get through anything. “
(Hat tip to The Huffington Post, where we first saw Charlie's amazing video.)
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