Two women who lost their hair after undergoing chemotherapy received new hairstyles yesterday from a famous stylist thanks to the Hope Foundation for Cancer Care (HFCC).
Foundation secretary-general Elaine Su (蘇連瓔) said many people who suffered from cancer have expressed fears about undergoing chemotherapy, not only about the ill effects of the chemicals, but how it will affect their appearance, especially the loss of hair.
A fear of hair loss has led some patients to delay treatment, Su said, adding that many cancer patients are afraid to go out in public with bald heads and therefore choose to remain at home during months or years of therapy.
Queena Yeh (葉俐廷), who is in her early 20s and recovering from lymphoma, said she cared about her appearance a lot and did not want to go out bald for fear of attracting attention from strangers.
Yeh said when she learned about her cancer and the chemotherapy treatment she would need last year, she became very emotional and cried a lot, but regained some confidence when she learned about HFCC’s free wig rental service.
The side effects of chemotherapy were tough, but not as painful as other patients had warned her, Yeh said, adding that though wearing wigs sometimes irritated her scalp, the wigs helped her regain self-confidence.
Famous hair stylist AKIN (魔髮師) said the new natural hair that grows out after hair loss from chemotherapy tends to be soft and curly like babies’ hair and is sometimes hard to style. Patients should avoid hair dyes, perms and complex treatment shampoos to avoid additional damage, he said.
Between 50 and 60 free wigs are rented to cancer patients every month and the recipients are mostly women, HFCC department of social services nursing director Amy Hsu (許怡敏) said. She said the foundation also collaborated with hair salons to provide free styling services to people on chemotherapy and people who donate their hair for wig-making.
The foundation also provides other services, such as counseling, financial aid and information, Hsu said.
Appearance was only a medium for mental adjustment, Su said. By taking care of hairstyles and putting on makeup, some patients feel they can regain control of their lives, because many patients are stressed about the uncertainty that surrounds their health, she said.
AKIN said yesterday was the first time he had donated his services to charity and that the rewarding feeling he experienced from helping others made him want to gather more stylists to take part in similar events in future.