For some patients, chemotherapy, the treatment that can save them from cancer, is more dreaded than the disease itself because one of the side-effects is hair fall.
“It may sound unbelievable, but there are many, especially youngsters, who prefer to lose their life rather than their hair,” said Ramya Ramachandran (20), a final year psychology student (in February 2014) and the Rotaract Club secretary of the Women’s Christian College, Chennai (WCC) in this report by rediff.com
In another rediff.com report, Dr. Rejiv Rajendran, professor of medical oncology, Adyar Cancer Institute says, “From a doctor’s point of view, the loss of hair may be one of the least significant side effects, but for the patient it is the most distressing.”
According to Ramya Ramachandran, “Wigs ensure that their body image does not change. It makes them feel better about themselves. It helps them get through this very difficult phase in their life.”
However, wigs cost anywhere between Rs. 15,000 and Rs. 25,000, a large sum for most patients already burdened by the high cost of cancer treatment.
Inspired by Locks of Love, a US based NGO that has been accepting hair donations to make wigs for underprivileged children for over 15 years now, the Rotaract Club launched Tangled, an initiative to create awareness about the importance of donating hair for cancer patients. Tangled was flagged off on February 4, 2014, World Cancer Day by Dr V. Shanta, renowned cancer specialist and chairperson of the Adyar Cancer Institute, Chennai.
Rennee Saradha (19), the Rotaract Club’s president, shaved off her hair for the cause. Her selfless gesture motivated around 2,500 women, who came in huge numbers to donate their hair.
Hair donation is only the first step of Tangled. The Rotaract Club is committed to ensuring that all the hair is collected, stored, analysed, and eventually made into wigs.
Green Trends, a popular unisex hair and style salon, took the responsibility of cutting and styling the hair of the donors.
So far, over 300 wigs have been donated to the Adyar Cancer Institute, Chennai.
The drive was also extended to Bangalore as part of the Women’s Day celebrations on March 8, 2014. About 400 women donated their hair.
The young women who have worked on this project will not get to meet or even know the names of the patients who will receive their precious gift, but that doesn’t matter to them.
As Rennee Saradha says, “As long as it reaches the patients and makes a tiny bit of difference in their lives, we are happy; we do not want to know who they are.”