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Donate your hair, gift a wig to a cancer patient

Rasheed Kappan, March 5, 2014, DHNS:
The Green Trends salon in Bangalore will collect hair from donors to make wigs for cancer patients. DH Photo

Hair loss, an unavoidable side effect of chemotherapy, could get depressing for a cancer patient. How about a wig to offer a cosmetic relief, a push that could dramatically drive the healing process?

Replicating the success of one such initiative called “Tangled” in Chennai, a unique awareness and hair donation campaign is about to kickstart in Bangalore on Thursday.

The concept is straightforward: Anyone with eight inches of hair or more could walk into any of the 29 Green Trends salons in the City, and donate their hair from March 5 to 10. The hairlocks will be sorted, cleaned and sent for wig-making to eventually reach the patients of Adyar Cancer Institute in Chennai. Each wig will be customised for the patients based on inputs from the doctor concerned.

Initiated by the Chennai-based Rotaract Club of Women’s Christian College and Green Trends beauty salon, the “Tangled” project was launched in Chennai on World Cancer Day, February 4, triggering a huge response. There were many women who tonsured their head, donating the entire hair for the cancer patients.

Twenty girls from that college had come up with this idea, and they had volunteered to donate their hair for the cancer cause. Green Trends learnt about the initiative and supported it. Eventually, the campaign attracted 3,000 donors.

A team from Women’s Christian College was specially trained by the psycho-oncologists of the Adyar Institute to spread awareness on the issue. A big number of schools, colleges and Rotaract clubs were part of that campaign.

The Bangalore leg of the campaign has a goal to donate 200 hair wigs to cancer patients attached to the Institute. But this could be a trigger for other organisations to cater to cancer patients in Bangalore and Karnataka. While Adyar’s requirement is about 100 wigs a month, it is much more in the cancer hospitals located in Bangalore. A Green Trends official said next year the campaign was likely to tie up with cancer hospitals in the City.

As many as 300 stylists here have already been trained to cut eight to ten inch locks from donors. This is the minimum length required to make a wig. “Special training has been initiated to ensure hair is cut from areas which will not affect the existing hairstyle of the donor,” said Deepak from Green Trends.

Chemotherapy

Cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy are often wary of the stigma fuelled by hair loss. They would rather keep the illness private, but the visible signs of hair loss come in the way.

The anti-cancer drugs used in chemotherapy destroy cancer cells and stop them from multiplying. But most are not specific to cancer cells and target all rapidly dividing cells such as the bone marrow cells and hair follicles.


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