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April 2012: Donate Your Hair to Cancer

For many women, temporary hair loss during chemotherapy is a very emotional and difficult experience. Hair loss occurs because chemotherapy targets all rapidly dividing cells—healthy cells as well as cancer cells. Hair follicles contain some of the fastest-growing cells in the body, and as the chemo does its work against cancer cells, it also destroys these cells. Within a few weeks of starting chemo, a patient may lose some or all of their hair. It can be gradual or dramatic: clumps in your hairbrush, handfuls in the tub drain or on your pillow. Whichever way it happens, it can be startling and depressing, and patients need a lot of support during this time.

As a way to support patients and acknowledge their struggle, hair donation programs have sprung up around the country and the world.  In Chicago, IL, the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center has teamed up with the Chicago Chapter of the Oncology Nursing Society to sponsor a Beautiful Lengths Campaign, which will culminate in a grand hair-cutting event in April 2012.  The Beautiful Lengths Campaign is a partnership between Pantene and the American Cancer Society to encourage women to grow long, strong, beautiful hair and then donate their hair to cancer patients. Pantene provides the funds to turn that hair into a fabulous wig to give to the American Cancer Society’s wig banks. Cancer patients across the country receive these wigs, free of charge.  They are hoping to add to the already 285,000 ponytails donated!

How can you get involved, you ask? It’s easy and everyone has something to offer, which is the best part! Chances are good that you know someone whose life has been touched by cancer, or maybe you’ve had first hand experience with it. This campaign is a venue for everyone to stand together and support those in the cancer community. Organizers of this campaign are looking for people who are willing to donate their hair and 10-15 volunteers who can help recruit donors, stylists, advertise the event, organize raffles and/or help plan the logistics of the event. All participants can start growing their beautiful hair out and donate it in five months to a very worthy cause.

More information about hair donations for cancer patients can be found at Beautiful Lengths and Locks Of Love. To get involved in the Chicago campaign, email Kendra Calawerts (kcalaer@nmh.org) or Barb Gobel (bgobel@nmh.org). Check back on the Lurie Cancer Center website, www.lurie.northwestern.edu, for date/time in the next few weeks, but for now, SAVE THE DATE HAIR: April 2012!!

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