Former Lamar County Deputy David Whitsell closed his eyes and fought back tears as his best friend, Manuel Gonzales shaved his head alongside his friend to show him he wasn’t fighting cancer alone.
“I wanted to shave my head out of respect,” said Gonzales. “He has been my friend for a while – we fish together, arrowhead hunt, hog hunt and we teach and learn from each other. He is an awesome friend who jumps whenever I call and I do the same for him.”
Whitsell was diagnosed with Non Hodgkins Lymphoma in April this year and when his hair started falling out earlier this month, he decided to shave his head.
“Even though I don’t have much hair anymore, when it started falling out, I decided to cut the rest to keep from leaving hair everywhere,” said Whitsell. “But when Manuel said he wanted to get his head buzzed with me, it was a very emotional moment for me.”
Despite Whitsell telling him that he didn’t have to shave his head, Gonzales insisted that he wanted to and that he wanted him to know that he “wasn’t in this alone.”
“When we started, I couldn’t look at him. I just sat there with my eyes closed, fighting back tears,” said Whitsell.
Gonzales said, ” his reaction to me shaving was priceless and I will keep it shaved till his hair grows back.”
While they have been friends for a long time, Whitsell said they met when he took a job at Loma Alta Ranch in 2019 and Gonzales was the ranch manager at a neighboring ranch, Good Hope Ranch.
“I joked about the job coming with a best friend. Even though we have only been friends for a few short years, it’s like we have been friends for a lifetime.”
Gonzales explained that his mother battled cancer and, sadly, lost that battle.
“Cancer is a mean disease and I will stick with David till the end – we are not done exploring.”
On May 10, Whitsell started chemo treatments and to help his family during this time, friends have organized a benefit being held on June 17 at the Chisum Trails Cowboy Church.
There will be a benefit team roping event (#8 and #12 no cap, 4 header, and progressive after one) with a $50 a man enter up and 50% payback and prizes. Books open at 9 a.m. and roping starts at 10 a.m.
A silent auction will take place throughout the day, starting at 9 a.m. and ending at 4 p.m.
For a donation, there will be hamburger plates with chips and a drink.
Chisum Trails Cowboy Church is located at 3575 FM 2648 in Powderly.
For more information, click here