Friday, February 1, 2008

Hair for Charity

Fellow medical blogger, Shadowfax, over at Movin' Meat is going to shave his head for charity. You can read his posts--"I'm a Beautiful Man" and "I get letters" that highlight his reasons.

St. Baldrick's is a fundraising foundation dedicated to raising funds for pediatric cancer research. Currently, only $1 of every $100 spent on cancer research goes to funding all of pediatric cancer research. Since the organization's inception in 2000, they have raised over $34 million for research funding. 83 cents of every dollar goes to funding, a very high percentage for a charitable foundation. Their fundraising centers around shaving the head of a volunteer, to promote solidarity with all these great kids who lose their locks to chemo. How it works: a volunteer will sponsor a child, and gets friends and family to contribute money to his fundraising efforts. There is then a public shaving to celebrate!

Well, I'm not sure that I (being female and not Britney Spears or Sinead O’Connor) will ever willing shave my head, but I have donated my hair twice for Locks of Love. They are a public non-profit organization that provides hairpieces to children under age 18 suffering from long-term medical hair loss from any diagnosis. Most of the children helped by Locks of Love have lost their hair due to a medical condition called alopecia areata, which has no known cause or cure. The first time I donated, the length they asked for was 15 inches. It is now only 10 inches. Here are their guidelines if you wish to donate.

  • 10 inches measured tip to tip is the minimum length needed for a hairpiece. This includes hair that is colored or permed.
  • Hair must be in a ponytail or braid before it is cut.
  • Hair must be clean and completely dry before it is mailed in.
  • Place the ponytail or braid inside of a plastic bag, and then inside of a padded envelope.
  • Fill out the hair donation form, or write your name and address on a separate sheet of paper and include inside the envelope.
  • All hair donations must be mailed to Locks of Love at:

    2925 10th Avenue N, Suite 102
    Lake Worth, FL 33461-3099

Please Note:

  • Shorter hair will be separated from the ponytails and sold to offset the manufacturing costs. Although the shorter hair cannot be used in the hairpieces, it still greatly helps to reduce costs.
  • Gray hair will be accepted and sold to offset the manufacturing costs.
  • Hair that has been bleached (usually this refers to highlighted hair) is not usable. If unsure, ask your stylist.
  • Hair that is swept off of the floor is not usable.
  • Hair that is shaved off and not in a ponytail or braid is not usable.
  • We cannot accept dreadlocks. Our manufacturer is not able to use them in our children’s hairpieces. We also cannot accept wigs, falls, hair extensions or synthetic hair.

Then there is the Wigs for Kids program. Their guidelines for hair donation are similar to the above ones for Locks of Love. The history of this organization goes back over 25 yrs:

" founder Jeffrey Paul cannot believe his incredible journey. He was a successful hairdresser with a thriving business. He traveled all over the world to work with powerful presidents and gorgeous models. But one day, his 15-year-old niece walked into his salon, crying. She tearfully begged him to stop her hair from falling out. My immediate thoughts were not serious.

But when I saw the look in her father’s eyes, I knew it was something more.” It turned out that she had just been diagnosed with leukemia. “Uncle Jeff, you know I’ve been trying to get on the gymnastics team all my life,” she cried. “My hair is going to be falling out when it’s time to try out.”

Although chemotherapy would help save her life, it would also leave her with no hair. “I promised her that she would have hair,” Paul says. “And when you make a promise to a kid, you keep it.” Read more here.

I hope you will consider making a monetary donation for Shadowfax/ St Baldwick's and maybe donating some of hair to one of the groups that make wigs. Hair, like blood, is a renewable resource. A bad haircut is only temporary.

17 comments:

Øystein said...

Very nice charities!

Loss of hair is one of the things that "brands" kids and teenagers with cancer the most.

I've kept my hair short cropped (a few millimeters) for about ten years. When my wife's teenage sister got leukemia a few years ago, she found this comforting in a way. She was not the only one with (close to) no hair :)

I work at a cancer hospital. Now and then, when I'm not wearing scrub, I get that special sympathetic look from people in the elevator.

I know they think I'm a patient.

rlbates said...

Do you ever correct them?

Øystein said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Øystein said...

No, I haven't.

To afraid to be wrong, I guess ;)

rlbates said...

I hope you stay healthy. Besides as Dr Smak has recently pointed out, many chemo patients also loss their eyelashes and eyebrows. You still have those. Take care.

Chrysalis Angel said...

What a great thing to do. Some patients decide not to wear the wigs. Our skin becomes so sensitive that some don't feel comfortable and prefer the soft silk scarves or hats.
Some of us lose all body hair. I never had to shave my legs all through treatments. I remember telling myself, when I'm complaining about having to shave my legs again, I'll know I got through.

rlbates said...

CA, thanks for the smile regarding the leg shaving.

Dr. Smak said...

Ramona,

I hope that you're a terrible cook. If not, I'm going to get a whopper of an inferiority complex from you. :)

That's great you've donated twice. 15 inches of hair takes a long time to grow!

Thanks for all your support -
Smak

ArkieRN said...

Before I started chemo, I went and got my hair cut short. It was very long and I donated the length to locks of love.

Also, If you ask, some salons will give a discount on cuts if one donates.

As Chrysalis said, it was great not having to shave my legs for over a year. I also didn't wear a wig. When I went out I put on a cap to keep my scalp from being sunburned - that's it.

rlbates said...

Dr Smak, please, don't fell "inferior" to me. I'm a fair to good cook, but would rather bake. Not a cook like TBTAM. Her dishes really look good!

My hair has always grown fast so it only takes a year and a half or two to get it long enough to donate again. Lately, I've been wearing it short (hot flashes), so don't know if I'll ever get it long enough again.

rlbates said...

ArkieRN, that was thinking "ahead" and kind of you. Where are you in Arkansas?

ArkieRN said...

I've been in Jacksonville for the last 4 months. Before that, NLR.

I worked at St Vincent's main campus in the ICU before I was diagnosed.

Because my cancer was found rather late, I'm waiting until I've been in remission for 2 years to go back to work. (hate to start a job and quit if the cancer came back because I'd not built up enough sick time) The two years is up in May - and I'm so ready to get back to nursing.

rlbates said...

Glad you are doing well. Hope you return to nursing soon. :)

ArkieRN said...

Thanks! I rather pleased myself. At diagnosis, my five year survival was estimated to be only 20%.

Did amazingly well with chemo and radiation. My doc tells me I'm the first pt with this diagnosis he's had who never had to skip a treatment (due to neutropenia or inability to tolerate treatment).

Went into remission fairly quickly. If I can get past the two year mark, the chances of reoccurance go WAY down.

Overall, feel fairly lucky and very blessed.

Dreaming again said...

I donated 14 inches once, then 10 inches.

Then when I cut my hair last march cut off 8 inches. but it hadn't grown out from the 10 inch donation.

It was above my shoulders and really freaked me out.

Still haven't recovered ;)

Øystein said...

ArkieRN, can I ask what your diagnosis is?

ArkieRN said...

Squamous cell cervical cancer stage IVa.