Hair today for someone tomorrow

Ian Murdoch
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Women donate their locks to help cancer patients

Hair loss, although common in men, is something no woman wants to go through. It is known to cause mental and emotional pains for the women who experience it.

Alison Craigen and Melissa Blackler hold up their freshly cut locks to be donated for wigs for cancer patients. The two underwent the cut at Patty Hillier’s (far right) hair salon on March 23 with the help of Pansy Loder, a hairdresser (far left).

Hair loss, although common in men, is something no woman wants to go through. It is known to cause mental and emotional pains for the women who experience it.

Unfortunately, for chemotherapy patients who are undergoing treatment for cancer, they have little choice. They are forced to helplessly watch their locks fall out in the mirror as the treatment progresses.

However, one program is attempting to solve this problem, and Alison Craigen is spearheading efforts in St. Anthony and the area to chip in.

The program is called Beautiful Lengths, started by shampoo company Pantene, which collects eight-inch strands of hair from women who participate to make real-hair wigs that go to cancer patients.

Wigs are donated to the Canadian Cancer Society, who then distributes them to cancer patients around the country.

Ms. Craigen started donating hair and organizing others to do the same in 2010 after her mother was diagnosed with cancer and started undergoing chemotherapy.

She said that within four weeks her mother's hair started coming out.

"I think it's everyone's big fear when they go through the treatment is losing their hair," said Ms. Craigen.

Her mother passed away in August that year but she has continued, cutting hair to give to others in need of wigs so that their pain is lessened throughout the hard-hitting treatment.

She is originally from Northern Scotland but has lived in St. Anthony for 22 years, working as a nurse and midwife at the hospital, where she is able to see firsthand the effects that cancer patients go through.

Ms. Craigen was at Patty Hillier's hair salon in St. Anthony on March 23 to donate some more of her hair for the program.

"If there's one thing about hair - it always grows back." Alison Craigen

She was joined by Melissa Blackler, Alicia Sexton, Jennifer McGrath and Lori Spearing.

"Alison told me she was doing it and I had the hair to donate so why not?" said Ms. Blackler.

"It's a great cause, because you never know who's going to need it."

According to the Canadian Cancer Society's Cancer Statistics for 2011, it is estimated that close to 178,000 new cases of cancer were developed in 2011 with 75,000 deaths from the disease.

Incidence and mortality rates are highest in the Atlantic Provinces and Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador has the highest incidence rates of colorectal cancer for both men and women in the country.

According to current incidence rates, approximately 40 per cent of women and 45 per cent of men in Canada will develop cancer at some point in their lives.

This means there is plenty of hair needed to go around.

Pantene says it takes a minimum of six ponytails to make one of their wigs.

Ms. Craigen isn't fazed about all of the hair being chopped off. She said she even contemplated shaving her head at one point but her daughter convinced her not to.

However, for those not suffering from chemotherapy-related hair loss, time is on your side.

Craigen pointed out, "if there's one thing about hair - it always grows back."

 

 

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