Hair donation drive puts a smile on cancer patients

Women battling cancer are getting help from two organisations whose mission is to give back their self-esteem during the fight of their lives

Rose Chiedo vividly remembers the nights she entered the bathroom to shower and watched her hair fall out in clumps onto her shoulders.

A cervical cancer patient, she understands the need for many cancer patients to put on a brave face and say they aren’t affected by the changes in their body and appearance. But Rose says it is sometimes hard to stay strong.

          Restore dignity

So you can imagine her joy when two organisations, Darling Kenya and Kenya Cancer Association(Kencansa) offered to donate a wig to her.

She vividly remembers the day she unknowingly left the house without covering her head and her friends were shocked by her baldness, and she could not keep up with the curious questions they asked her.

“This hair will help me a great deal. It will restore my dignity. I will no longer get those nagging questions about where my long and beautiful hair went to,” she says.

Rose is not alone. Over 50 per cent of cancer patients lose their hair due to powerful chemotherapy drugs that attack rapidly growing cancer cells. In this regard, wigs play a great role in restoring their self-esteem during the process.

Over the past two years, 200 people from three counties have been receiving semi-human wig donations by the two organisations.

Through the drive, over 1,000 women across Kenya supported by Kencansa are expected to benefit from the wigs donation.

The wigs are part of the premium product range the brand recently launched under its ‘Curls and Colour’ campaign.

   Helps with treatment

“Losing one’s hair is a common side effect of chemotherapy  treatment, which can have great impact on a woman’s self-esteem.  Many of the women have difficulty adjusting to the hair loss and that is why wigs are an important part of their treatment,” says Grace Mugambi, Kencansa executive director during the donation event two weeks ago.

Darling Kenya Chief Executive Officer Mr Gaurav Kaushal says that the brand understands the importance of confidence through fashionable hairstyles and that is why they have decided to help this vulnerable group, which has been forgotten by many.

“As the market leader, Darling understands that today’s multi-dimensional woman wants more out of life and liberation from conventional hairstyles. We want to equip our cancer champions with an indispensable freedom to effortlessly channel any style, anytime with ease. We want them to find their beautiful selves in whichever wig suits them well,” says Kaushal.

Kaushal adds that over the years, synthetic wigs have been curated to have a more real-hair feel to them, created with lighter materials and they are cooler to wear and easier to style due to new technological improvements.

“The wigs come in a growing array of colours and hip styles that often move and look just like human hair. Their easy care means no-fuss, ‘shake and go’ styling,” he said.

Apart from wigs, Kencansa also provides meals to cancer patients at Kenyatta National Hospital every Monday and Wednesday. They also give funds to buy colostomy bags for patients who have colon problems and are unable to pass stool normally as well as provide electro larynx gadgets used by cancer patients after their voice box has been removed.

“This is not a one off initiative, we have been doing it and will continue to do it to help our mothers and sisters who are suffering. We want to restore  dignity to someone’s life,” says Mugambi.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer’s Globocan 2018 data shows women lead in new cancer cases with 28,688 getting the disease compared to 19,199 men, representing 56 per cent of total new cases.

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