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Why Not Have the Kindest Haircut to Benefit Cancer Survivors?

Have you ever felt a sense of regret on watching your beautiful locks, which took you so long to grow, being swept up off the hairdressing salon’s floor? Well, did you know that those very locks can be used to create much-needed wigs for cancer patients?

When my friend, Kathy Tinney, decided she wanted to cut her long tresses, she contacted the CANSA Head Office in Bedfordview to find out how to go about it. On their website, she looked up ‘Human Hair Donation’, where she read up about The Kindest Cut programme. She discovered that donated hair must be cut off and delivered in a ponytail / plait of no less than 25cm in length.

Lucinda Carter and wigs

So on every visit to her hairdresser, who was familiar with the CANSA requirements, the hair length would be carefully measured. Human hair is estimated to grow about half a millimetre per day, so growing it to 25 cm can take a while. Eventually, Kathy’s hair reached the required length and on her next visit, she was excited when it was neatly plaited, tied securely at both ends, and then carefully cut off. Kathy left the salon, proudly bearing her gift in a Ziploc bag.

She established that she could either deliver it to the CANSA offices in Bedfordview or post it to them. Donations can be posted to any CANSA Care Centre, but ideally to the Head Office. She opted to do the former and I tagged along to find out more about the procedure. The lady to deal with is Lucinda Carter, a cancer survivor herself, but as she was out of the office that day, the CANSA representative on duty invited us into the room where the wigs are kept. Kathy had completed the necessary donation form and happily handed it over with her blonde plait.

He opened the cupboards and showed us a collection of wigs, ready for cancer patients to select from. He explained that the wigs are given out for a minimum donation of R350* to those who need them, although they are welcome to make a larger donation towards maintenance costs and costs towards couriering hair to and from the wigmaker. Between two and four wigs per month are handed out to clients who visit the office and requests are also received from other CANSA Care Centres around the country. Wigs can also be hired, again on a donation basis, and returned when no longer required.

*patient’s income is taken into consideration

So, what is the procedure?

“We get so many people from all over South Africa who are keen to donate their hair. At our regular CANSA Shavathon events, we also have trained staff and volunteers on hand to cut the ponytails off donors whose hair is long enough to donate,” Lucy Balona, head of marketing and communication stated.

“From there, all the collected hair is sent to two wig suppliers, where it is sorted, treated and prepared. A large number of donations are required to make a single wig and it is also necessary to match hair colours and textures for a wig. Once the wigs are ready, they are sent back to us to await collection by clients who have lost their hair as a result of cancer-related treatment. The wigs enable the restoration of dignity for those who don’t enjoy their hairless state, while their hair grows back.”

A huge shout-out to Tymeless Hair & Wigs, the company that makes up the wigs for CANSA free of charge. Marketing Manager of CANSA, Lucy Balona, told me: “There is a huge need and demand for wigs and the problem we sometimes face is that the wig makers have enough hair but are not able to keep up with the demand.”

Any other human hair wig makers out there that want to join Tymeless Hair & Wigs in this valuable task? Contact Lucinda Carter email: if you do.

Author: Nicolette Gardiner Bosman

View wig making process….

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