Cancer is a devastating disease, and the side effects of treatment make recovery an exceptionally challenging process for those affected. One of the most common side effects of chemotherapy, a widely-used cancer treatment, is hair loss. In fact, up to 65% of chemotherapy patients experience chemotherapy-induced hair loss.
Although chemotherapy-induced hair loss is temporary and reversible after treatment ends, hair loss can be damaging to one’s self-esteem. 47% of surveyed female cancer patients say hair loss is the most traumatizing aspect of chemotherapy.
Not only does hair loss impact self-esteem, but it also deprives patients of their privacy when it comes to treatment. They can easily hide many of their symptoms and side effects from the public, but hiding hair loss is a bit more challenging.
Chantelle Iacone, an Oakland Park resident and Brand Manager of the Corals of Oakland Park Neighborhood Association (COPNA), believes a great way to show support for patients who have experienced hair loss is to donate hair to organizations that provide patients with wigs. She recently donated her own hair to a non-profit called Wigs and Wishes.
This isn’t the first time Chantelle has donated her hair. In 2015, her husband’s career took them to the Bahamas where she taught 1st and 2nd grade. Chantelle had a student who was getting teased for having long hair as well as a student whose mom was a hairstylist. She grew her hair out with the first student and the school held an event where they cut and donated their hair to the Little Princess Trust in England. They also raised $1,500 in donations.
Cancer diagnoses and chemo-therapy-induced hair loss is personal to Chantelle. Over the last two decades, she has had three cousins who battled cancer, so wanted to demonstrate her support for them as well as help those who aren’t able to grow their own hair by donating hers.
Chantelle says “I feel humbled that I’m able to donate and have the ability to grow my hair out. Not many people grow their hair out or know that donating it is even an option. But it does grow back!”
Chantelle and her husband moved to Oakland Park just before COVID-19 hit. She was looking for a hair salon that was open and heard about XO Hair Design from the Living in Oakland Park Facebook group. At the time she needed a trim, but her stylist, Christina Vigliotti did such an outstanding job that she has continued going back since.
You have to cut off at minimum 10-12 inches to donate your hair, so it has to grow out for a while. Christina was patient with Chantelle, and worked with her to cut off little bits at a time to make sure it never got too short, but was still growing toward her goal. Then, when Chantelle was ready, she chopped off 12 inches. Chantelle now has a fresh, super-chic cut that looks fantastic on her!
Although synthetic wigs are always an option, human hair wigs are typically preferred. Because they are made of real human hair, they look more natural and are easier to style. Unlike synthetic wigs, human hair wigs can be cut and colored like you would your regular hair.
Unfortunately, human hair wigs are a lot more expensive than synthetic wigs. Donating hair to non-profit organizations that give free wigs to people in need helps return a sense of comfort, self-esteem, and individuality to those receiving them. Being able to put on human hair, cut, color, and style it the way you want, and look your best is a meaningful way to take back power over cancer.
Chantelle explains that it is important to donate hair if you can because it “puts you in someone else’s shoes. You get the opportunity to empathize with them and the experience they are going through.” Her sister also donated 14 inches of her hair several years ago. Chantelle is now encouraging her daughter, who is 12, to grow her hair and donate it to the same cause.
Cassidy Webb is a Texas native and South Florida transplant. She grew up just outside of Dallas, TX, and moved to South Florida four years ago. She now considers Fort Lauderdale her home.
Cassidy is the project manager at a small digital marketing company and she enjoys freelance writing on the side. In her free time, you can catch her exploring local parks or taking long walks through the neighborhood with her dog, Bella.
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