Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Pune women donate hair to make wigs for cancer patients


PUNE: Losing a close friend to cancer was the reason for Geeta Ramgopal to donate her hair. She understood that loss of hair and the embarrassment that followed was also a factor that catalysed her defeat in the battle against cancer.

Ramgopal, a resident of NIBM Road, decided to go bald and donated 15 inches of her hair to Hair for Hope - India, an initiative that collects donated hair and makes wigs for chemotherapy patients and donates it to economically challenged cancer patients in India and UAE.

"I was in a dilemma, whether to have a boy cut or go bald," she said. "I decided to go bald when I had a conversation with a cancer patient. She told me that she had to get a wig done as she did not want anyone except her family members to know about her illness as she feared they would isolate her," said the 48-year-old web designer.

Like Ramgopal, many from the city have donated their hair for this initiative. A lot of them have posted pictures along with the donated hair on social media. The initiative, which is popular in south Indian cities such as Mangaluru, Bengaluru and Chennai, has now reached Pune.

Lakshmi Francis, a 40-year-old IT professional from Baner, donated 17 inches of her hair. This was the second time she decided to do so. "I had donated my hair first in 2014. The thought that my hair could ease someone's pain motivated me ," she said.

The suffering that her domestic help of 14 years had to undergo after she was diagnosed with breast cancer let her get up close with the suffering of a cancer patient. "After the first dose of chemotherapy, she had lost almost 80% of her hair. This dampened her spirit to fight the disease. I do not want that to happen to anyone else," Franchis said.

Hair for Hope - India was started by Dubai-based Premi Mathew in 2013. "The idea of starting a campaign for hair donation came from my eight-year-old nephew, Dylan who grew his hair for four years to donate it for making wigs," Mathew said.

Mathew started another initiative Protect Your Mom to spread awareness about breast cancer after her family had a brush with the disease.


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