Eighteen-year-old Lin Yan-ling (林宴鈴) on Sunday last week had her 40cm-long sleek, black hair braided at a hair salon, not to get dressed up for a special occasion, but to donate it to cancer patients.
Lin, a student at New Taipei City’s (新北市) Tamsui Vocational High School, was taking part in a campaign launched in July last year by the Sanchung Nanhsin Rotary Club to collect hair for cancer patients who have lost theirs due to radiation and chemotherapy treatments, to help them regain confidence.
Lin’s cousin and two younger sisters also donated their hair on the same day.
Chang Shu-chin (張淑琴), a former president of the club, said her sister-in-law used to have thick, shiny hair, but lost it due to breast cancer.
“My sister-in-law started losing her hair when she began chemotherapy. Seeing how much it upset her really broke my heart,” Chang said.
“Club members volunteering at hospitals have also met cancer patients who have lost all their hair because of their condition. Most of them can only use a hat to cover their head because they cannot afford a wig,” Chang said.
To recruit donations, Chang said the organization had publicized the campaign by word of mouth through hair stylists working in New Taipei City’s Sanchong (三重), Lujhou (蘆洲) and Sindian (新店) districts, as well as in other parts of Taipei City, and by putting up posters in the salons.
“We have also promoted the campaign in schools and posted relevant information on Facebook,” Chang said.
As of April, the club had received 150 hair donations that were made into 12 hairpieces.
Club president Wang Fu-tzu (王富子) said the campaign accepts donations of hair with a minimum length of 30cm, preferably hair that had not been chemically treated, adding that a hairpiece requires at least five hair donations.
Club director-general Chen Yueh-tsu (陳月足) said the wig manufacturer also supports the campaign by offering a NT$5,000 discount per wig.
Asked if she regretted cutting off her long hair, Lin said: “My hair will grow back eventually, but helping out others is not something that can wait.”