With cancer the leading cause of death in the nation, the Hope Foundation for Cancer Care yesterday launched a hair and fund-raising scheme in an effort to boost cancer patients’ confidence and prevent them from stopping treatment due to hair loss.
“In Taiwan, every five minutes and 26 seconds, someone is diagnosed with cancer. It is estimated that each year, about 100,000 cancer patients are troubled by the side effect of hair loss due to chemotherapy,” foundation chief executive officer Elaine Su (蘇連瓔) told a press conference in Taipei.
Su said baldness has long been associated with people with cancer, with hair loss being cited by many as the most terrifying aspect about their illness other than being diagnosed with cancer.
While some patients resort to wigs to restore their confidence, Su said others are unable to do so because of real-hair wigs can cost up to NT$50,000 (US$1,605) a piece.
The scheme aims to collect enough hair to make 1,000 wigs and NT$3 million to produce them. Each cancer patient can rent up to two wigs for a maximum of six months, paying only a NT$500 deposit and a NT$300 cleaning fee per item.
Foundation board member Lin Ching-jung (林青蓉) said her 60-year-old mother was diagnosed with stage two breast cancer a decade ago and the treatments she underwent caused her to lose large chunks of hair.
“Because my mother lived in a suburban area, there was scarcely any wig store that she could visit to buy a wig. Because of this, she could only wear a hat to cover her head whenever she went out,” Lin said.
After Lin joined the foundation, she understood how much her mother’s battle with cancer would have been easier had she had access to a wig, she said.
“The making of a human-hair wig requires five to eight locks of at least 30cm-long, undyed and unpermed hair, and NT$3,000 to make it,” Lin said.
“To accommodate the growing demand for hairpieces due to the soaring number of people diagnosed with cancer, we need all the help we can get from the public,” she added.
The foundation said a “wig bank” program it launched in 2002 has so far helped more than 10,000 cancer patients restore confidence.
Among them is a 37-year-old mother of two, nicknamed Lu-te (路得), who lost her waist-long dark hair in March last year after beginning treatments for stage-two breast cancer.
“I resigned due to my illness. With only my husband working, I was unable to afford a human-hair wig without adding to my family’s financial burden,” Lu-te said.
“I regained the courage to go outside again after I learned of the foundation’s program and rented a wig for myself,” she said.
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