TIRUPATI: Hope becomes a mirage for those diagnosed with cancer and not many have the strength to fight it back. They undergo physical and mental trauma during the course of treatment—chemotherapy and radiation—that downgrade one’s self esteem after they begin losing their body and facial hair. 28-year-old Anil and 21-year-old Nadiya from Tirupati are actively volunteering for hair donations for providing wigs to cancer patients free of cost.
Anil, a software engineer by profession, for the last four years has been involved with various NGOs to create awareness about the vital role of hair donations for cancer patients. He is working with The Cherian Foundation, a Chennai-based children’s cancer NGO, which provides natural hair wigs to children undergoing cancer treatment across the hospitals in India.
When asked what made him volunteer for the job, Anil says, “One of my mother’s relatives developed breast cancer and her breast had to be removed during the course of treatment. In recent years, a lot of women are being diagnosed with cancer and although chemotherapy, radiation and powerful medicines kill the cancer cells, they end up losing their hair.”He says, “As cancer treatment involves huge money, many struggle to afford their hospital bills. Also, it becomes difficult for them to come out of their homes without body and facial hair. By donating our hair, we can provide free hair wigs to the patients, which gives them hope,” Anil says.
Through his Instagram page hair_donation_org, he guides donors interested in hair donation. He collaborated with Naturals Salon in Tirupati and bore the entire cost for hair cuts from the donors. He has also partnered with Hair Crown, and through this NGO, they provided at home haircuts to those donors who couldn’t come to salons. For at home haircuts, volunteers are available at Tirupati, Nellore, Vijayawada and Kadapa cities where they collect hair from the donors.
Nadiya, a third-year MBBS student at Sri Venkateswara Medical College, donated her hair for the first time in 2018. She donated her hair and sent it to Kerala through Cope with Cancer organisation for the cancer patients. Three years after regrowing her hair, she once again shaved off her head and donated it to cancer patients. “Children at a tender age undergo chemotherapy and lose their hair not knowing what is happening to them. It is sad to see them l ike that. So I donated my hair to them,” Nadiya says. Anil and Nadiya have collected hair from more than 200 donors and sent it to the NGOs for making wigs to the cancer patients. They bear the expense for hair donation and provide certificates to the donors.