For Their Crowning Glory

Published on October 28, 2021 by

Increase in hair donation help women suffering from cancer combat body image issues due to chemotherapy induced alopecia


Various NGOs have noticed a 28 percent increase in hair donations this year in comparison to previous years. They have been able to increase their production which they distribute with the help of several cancer hospitals or organizations across the city.

Urvija from Cope with Cancer said, “There has been about 25 percent increase in the number of people who have donated hair to us for making wigs for cancer patients. There could be various reasons for the same. Primary reason could be an awareness about the emotional need of cancer patients along with their medical need for treating the disease.” While the healthcare system addresses the medical needs of the patient, the psychological aspect also needs to be addressed and the wigs have helped to fill the gap. Urvija added, “Madat Trust has been donating wigs to economically challenged patients since 2014. On an average, about 40-50 wigs per month are donated to patients receiving chemotherapy in Tata Memorial hospital Mumbai, other cancer hospitals all over India & to online requests.”

Donors said that the hair grows back but the gesture remains forever. Josephine Sequeira, a freelance sports management professional, had donated her hair to Bangalore Hair Donation in July 2021 in remembrance of her friend who she lost to lung cancer.

Ship of Happiness, a city based organization has donated more than 500 wigs this year to The Cherian Foundation, Chennai. Mr. Harish Kannadhasan said, “Most people today get to know about hair donation through social media about hair donation.”

Yugal, a representative of Bangalore Hair Donation said, “We have tied up with Indian Cancer Society, Bangalore, which is one of the best NGOs for cancer care in Bangalore, currently and they have been helping us out with the distribution of the wigs. They help us with identifying the underprivileged patients and giving them the wigs.”

NGOs believe that there are different reasons that have led to the increase in donations. Due to the pandemic, more people wanted to do something for a cause. Yugal added, “As and how we are getting educated, people are giving more importance to mental health and have started to realize one’s perception of themselves really matters and thus people have come forward in giving donations.”

Approximately 250-300 grams of good quality healthy hair is required to make one wig. The hair can be cut at any salon. Hair has to be washed, dried and tied into a braid with rubber bands at both the ends. Hair to be donated should be minimum of 12 inches in length as shorter hair cannot be used for making wigs.The donated hair received is sorted according to their quality.

Hita Prem of NYW Hair has teamed with the Indian Cancer Society and donated over 10 wigs. She adds, “Synthetic wigs might be cheap in cost but also in quality. Wigs made of natural hair can last over eight years with good maintenance.”

Hair loss due to chemotherapy-induced alopecia has created a negative body image, lowered self-esteem, and a reduced sense of well-being amongst women. Studies show that many women have refused chemotherapy due to adverse side effects like hair loss that lower the quality of life. However, the wigs have helped to boost their lowered self-esteem.

Dr. Anupama Darapu, Radiation Oncologist at Bangalore Baptist Hospital, said, “If women do want wigs, mostly working professionals, we recommend other wig manufacturers they can contact.”

Betzy S. Varghese, Psycho-oncologist, said, “Of the many side effects that patients have to face, one the most commonly seen side effect is hair fall or alopecia. And for which now patients have been advised or it is their wish whether they would like to wear wigs. Because of this side effect, patients over the time develop body image issues. To tackle that, various organizations have volunteered to give them free wigs in order to help them with the body image issues.”

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