DUBAI // For many women who are being treated for breast cancer, losing their hair can be a traumatic experience.
Breast cancer survivors in the UAE are urging people to think about hair donation to help make wigs for sufferers and provide a sense of normality to those whose lives have been turned upside down.
“Losing hair is the most traumatic part of chemo treatment,” said campaigner Premi Mathew, founder of the Hair for Hope campaign, which uses human hair to make wigs.
“To see it fall in clumps as the patient loses all her hair, often in a matter of days, is terrifying.
“So hair is the most precious gift you can give a chemo patient, as it helps them regain their looks and give them the confidence to fight the disease.
“During summer especially, so many people go for a bob cut, wasting a lot of hair which could actually bring smiles to a chemo patient.”
Fortunately for breast cancer patients, many charitable programmes provide real hair wigs, said Ms Mathew. What is needed is volunteers who are willing to donate their locks.
“If you meet the donation requirements and you want to do something kind, donate your hair to a woman living with cancer,” said the Indian.
Hair for Hope recommended hair be dry, oil-free and tied into a ponytail before cutting and suggested the minimum length for donation be 15 inches.
Dubai resident Shalini Murali, who has been battling breast cancer since 2004, also urged hair donations and said that when she lost her hair in treatment, she drew unwelcome and discomforting looks.
“I never thought I would be completely bald,” said the 42-year-old Indian, “but I quickly realised this after 15 days of chemotherapy.
“It was heartbreaking. I felt helpless, like ending my life. I think the main thing for a girl is her hair to look good, to have her confidence.
“On the way to and from work people started looking at me with irritation and even fear and avoided sitting near me. It really broke my heart.”
Thankfully, said Ms Murali, a friend advised her to get a wig, which helped her regain her confidence. “Now I am feeling good and I feel I am looking much better.”
American Sally McQuinn had eight sessions of chemotherapy after being diagnosed with breast cancer and her hair began falling out after the first session.
“It was sad losing my hair after already losing my breasts, so I felt really down,” said the 46-year-old who lives in Fujairah. “It’s starting to grow back now but I still wear scarves and sometimes wigs.
“I think people who donate hair for wigs are doing a wonderful kindness.”
Breast cancer survivor Paula McLean, 49, urged people to think about hair donation.
“I did lose my hair and I think hair donation is a fantastic idea,” said the Scottish expatriate. “I tried synthetic wigs but gave up very quickly. They were too hot and itchy, particularly when chemo flushes arrived.
“I had a few funny moments watching people’s reactions on public transport, in particular when I had to whip off the wig and use it as a fan for my head during a flush.”
Amanda Fagan, a 44-year-old in her final stages of treatment, said while she chose not to wear a wig during her treatment, she feels for other women who need wigs to regain their confidence.
“Hairlessness is the first physical sign of cancer/cancer treatment and can be a shock to people,” she said. “Most women I know who have lost their hair do wear wigs, hence the importance of hair donations to make this possible.”
Men and women can donate hair to Friends of Cancer Patients (www.focp.ae) by emailing them at firstname.lastname@example.org or by contacting Hair for Hope at email@example.com.
Source: uae news