Hair donation bring joy to cancer patients

June 20, 2022 - 08:34
Breast Cancer Network Vietnam (BCNV) has been connecting philanthropists who want to donate their hair and breast cancer patients that have lost their hair in the course of their treatment. 
The joy of a cancer patient when receiving donated hair. — Photos courtesy of the Breast Cancer Network Việt Nam

HÀ NỘI —  Breast Cancer Network Vietnam (BCNV) has been connecting philanthropists who want to donate their hair and breast cancer patients that have lost their hair in the course of their treatment. 

By April this year, the 'hair library' has more than 11,000 donors. About 1,000 sets of hair have been given to cancer patients to use during and after chemotherapy treatment.

Those who have beautiful long hair will understand deciding to cut it off can be emotional. But that just makes donating that hair to cancer patients who have lost their hair due to chemotherapy all the more meaningful.

Donors post pictures of their shorter haircuts along with emotional messages about their decision to donate their hair.

Breast cancer patients not only have pains because of their illness and treatment but also suffer a lot of mental trauma when they lose their breasts and hair.

Thương Sobey, founder of the BCNV, wrote: “Then came hair loss. My skinhead was giving it away: I am a cancer patient. Skin wrinkled easily, darkened; my face became pale, gaunt and extremely fatigued. Breast cancer not only shortens my lifespan, but also steals my most precious 20 years of a human life… forces me to witness my own suffering and loss…"

Understanding this problem, Lan Hương, 22, from HCM City, decided to donate her hair. Hương made this decision as her mother is a breast cancer patient.

"Pride" is the word Lan Hương uses to describe the process of growing her hair to donate to cancer patients.

“When I was studying abroad in Japan, I received the news that my mother had cancer," Hương said.

"I temporarily put aside my dream of studying abroad to return home and accompany my mother during the months of chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Seeing my mother's hair falling, seeing her being tired and uncomfortable in a hot wig, I understood the feeling of a woman losing confidence in her appearance. That feeling of inferiority can affect the treatment results and even later life."

As for Trọng Đại, 23, from Hà Nội, the intention to grow his hair to donate it to cancer patients was rekindled when he visited relatives at the K Hospital, which specialised in treating cancer patients.

The decision to donate hair to the breast cancer network was cherished by Đại for a long time. When it was long enough to donate, he cut his hair off to send it to the network.

Twenty-seven months is the time that Đại grew his hair to be long enough to donate to cancer patients. As a boy with long hair, Đại faced negative comments from people around him such as, "Hey, this boy has long hair”. But he didn't mind too much. Every time he encountered such comments, Đại often replied to them with humour.

Trọng Đại is another who decided to grow his hair long to donate to cancer patients.

Among the hair donors, each has different reasons to come to the hair library. But in short, the common target of all is the desire that their hair can bring joy and somewhat ease the pain that cancer patients are having to deal with every day.

To be eligible to donate hair to the Breast Cancer Network Việt Nam (BCNV)'s hair library takes a very long time.

Huyền Trang, a final year student at the Hà Nội Foreign Trade University, always took care of and nurtured her long hair during her four years of university. After learning about the hair library, Trang did not hesitate to cut it short for cancer patients.

"The long, smooth black hair was my 'brand name' that identified me. Everyone was sad when I cut it and asked me ‘why suddenly cut it off?’. Every time, I had to explain. Fortunately, after that, many others also wanted to donate their hair. I think the hair is much more beautiful if we give it to the right person," Trang said.

Like Trang, all those who donate hair are happy to think that they can now bring joy to cancer patients.

"Pride" is the word to describe Lan Hương's process from growing to donating hair. When she holds a lock of hair in her hand, she feels very proud of herself to be able to light up the hopes of cancer patients.

Hair library

The hair library was initiated in 2015, as one of the spiritual support programmes for cancer patients by BCNV.

The hair library provides free wigs, made from real hair donated by the community, for cancer patients who are undergoing chemotherapy.

BCNV develops hair donation standards and calls on the community to donate hair, finds suitable hair salons and sends finished hair sets to cancer patients.

This is the first hair donation model in Việt Nam, so the hair library’s work is always updated and improved by BCNV year by year.

Currently, BCNV receives 80-100 donations a day. And whenever 50-100 wigs are made, a hair library is established at hospitals and medical facilities at oncology wards across the country.

When a hair library is established at a hospital, almost all hair is given to patients within a week.

Cancer patients can also apply to borrow hair through the registration form at BCNV's website.

After receiving the hair from the donors, BCNV and a team of volunteers prepare the hair based on standards. Qualified hair will be sent to the workshop and processed into wigs. All processing stages are handmade. The process to make one set of hair can take up to 20 hours.

The shock of a different look and loss of hair due to chemotherapy make cancer patients feel less confident. The presented hair gives them strength and the belief that, in any situation, they have the right to be beautiful and to love themselves. — VNS


- By post:

Breast Cancer Network Vietnam – Wig Library

Address: 1st Floor, 06, Lê Văn Miến, Thảo Điền Ward, District 2, HCMC 

Phone number: (+84) 961 924 300

- In person:

BCNV office address as above, working hours from Monday to Friday.