Every day I try to give thanks in my own way for being a cancer survivor. One particularly special day is Live StrongDay through the Lance Armstrong Foundation on October 2nd every year.
Sometime in 2011, I decided I would grow my hair and then donate it to one of the organizations that make hairpieces for children with cancer or other diseases. A list of them can be found below. Here’s the before picture:
Here’s the after picture:
I ended up donating to Pantene Beautiful Lengths Program because there are varying length/color requirements for donation. Of course, I learned a few things along the way.
What I Learned by Growing and Donating My Hair
AKA Simple Reminders on Why Goals are Important
Having a goal and being committed to something for a long period of time takes patience, resolve and determination. There are plenty of days where I thought I should just cut my hair. I had a corporate job so image was important. “Doing” my hair in the morning was a pain.
Sometimes the path to reach your goal may require adaptation. Having applied to medical school, I had to take a few steps (or inches in this case) by cutting my hair for the interviews. Fortunately, it worked. Remember, don’t deviate from your goal, but be open to modifying how you get there.
Find people that will give you an honest opinion. Many times I had people tell me my long hair looked nice when I could look in the mirror and tell that it didn’t look so good. Upon getting it cut, those same people said I looked so much better. For me, life is about brutal honesty. Find people that are going to give you the honest feedback – even if it isn’t what you want to hear.
Once you reach your goal, reflect. In my case, my hair on top of my head is a bit thinner so I got an unexpected surprise at the end! All kidding aside, we set and reach goals but then we need to reflect on we pursued them in the first place and whether we would do it again if in the same situation.
Having your friends send you to the all-girls team at the bowling alley isn’t that bad. Just a few days ago, I got to see some good friends and they sent me with my long locks to the girls team. Not so bad!
Organizations for Donating Hair
Locks of Love needs all hair types from all types of people, all hair colors (except gray), textures, and so on. If your hair is long, you should be able to donate. You can even donate your permed or colored hair (as long as it's not damaged). The only real stipulation is how long the hair has to be: ten inches. It also has to be sent as a ponytail or a braid.
How It Works: You give your hair to Locks of Love. Once it's been transformed into a beautiful, natural looking wig, it's given to a child who wouldn't be able to afford one otherwise.
This is a Canada-based organization that provides kids with wigs made of real and synthetic hair. The wigs are custom made from ten to twelve ponytails. They will even visit the child themselves if he or she can't go in for the wig fitting because of the illness.
Most organizations that collect hair for wigs are created in order to benefit children rather than adults. This one is no exception. Wigs for Kids asks for at least twelve inches of clean, dry hair in a ponytail or braid.
Pantene Beautiful Lengths' requirements are not as high as some of the other organizations'. Hair only has to be eight inches long, not ten as with Locks of Love. Other guidelines: if you've bleached your hair or used permanent dye on it, you can't send it in. If you used vegetable dyes, rinses, and semi-permanent hair color, you can.
Have your hairdresser put your hair in a ponytail to cut the length off, then you can take it home and get it ready to mail. Put it in a zipper baggie, stick that in a padded envelope, and off it goes. Visit the website for all the details.
Children With Hair Loss only requires hair to be eight inches long, and while they prefer the hair not to be chemically treated, as long as it's still in good condition, they will accept it. In addition, Children With Hair Loss will accept gray hair. Certificates are given to the donors as a thank you.
The Childhood Leukemia Foundation accepts hair that's ten inches long, but it can't be colored or chemically damaged. If the hair is curly, you can pull it straight to reach ten inches.