Cutting your hair for cancer

Two years ago, I cut my hair so that I could donate it to cancer survivors. I had always had super long, thick hair growing up, and once I got to University I let it grow even more. This wasn’t really a conscious decision, but when you’re working in a bar making R10 an hour, you don’t really feel like spending R500+ for a haircut every few months. So it just kind of happened. By the end of my 3rd year, my hair was almost down to my hips! I was getting constant headaches from the weight of my hair and the dreaded Stellenbosch summer that was upon me. One day, on a whim, I left work during my break and cut most of it off. And I wanted to make sure it went to a good cause.

I had never done anything like this before, mostly because I was under the impression that you had to shave your head completely in order to donate your hair. Luckily for me (and my vanity) I found out that CANSA only needs about 25 cm of hair in order to make a wig. Once I had confirmed that I wouldn’t have to go bald, I visited my nearest hair salon to get the chop. Although this was a super difficult decision to make due to a traumatising short haircut I’d experienced growing up, I was ultimately very happy with my decision.

I’ve listed some tips for first-time donors below:

Do your research

CANSA has a list of requirements and FAQs on their website, so read through these before cutting your hair to ensure that you don’t accidentally miss something and end up with hair you can’t donate. The main rules are that your hair has to be 25 cm or longer without layers and tied in a ponytail before you cut it.

Phone your salon

Before you cut your hair, find out whether your salon donates hair. Don’t worry if they don’t — just ask your stylist to cut your hair off in a ponytail before styling it and keep the ponytail in a ziplock bag, which you can send to CANSA yourself. You can find your nearest CANSA Care Centre here.

Wash and dry your hair

Obviously, no one wants dirty hair, so either wash it at home before going to the salon, or ask them to wash it for you before cutting it.

If your hair is too short or if you don’t feel emotionally ready to let go of your locks, you can go to your nearest Shavathon and donate a few rands to spray-paint your hair, or you can donate online.

For more info on how to donate money to cancer research, you can head on over to the Pink Drive. Educating women on how to do a proper breast self-exam is part of breast cancer awareness month, so remember to take 5 minutes to do a self-examination and get a check-up at the doctor’s office as often as needed.

There are so many ways to make a difference in someone’s life, so what are you waiting for?

Have you ever donated your hair to cancer? Tell us about your experience in the comments below!

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