[15 June] No bad hair days for new cancer charity

Resource :http://en.shisu.edu.cn/resources/news/no-bad-hair-days-for-new-cancer-charity

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espite big strides in cancer research in China, there has been no breakthrough on sparing chemotherapy patients from hair loss.

College students from Shanghai, Shandong and other provinces have stepped into the breach.

Recently, Students at Shanghai International Studies University organized a bicycle tour from their Songjiang District campus to downtown to promote the Tsingsi Hair Donation Organization, which collects hair from donors to make wigs for cancer patients.

Since last year, the charity has made 22 wigs and sent them to hospitals.

“On the road, many passers-by, including foreigners, stopped and listened to what we had to say,” says Li Jiawen, a sophomore and co-founder of the charity project. “We want more people to realize that cancer patients need care outside of medical treatment.”

The idea for the organization came from Li’s longtime friend Wei Yan’er, who was studying at the University of North Carolina when an aunt and a cousin in the United States told her they had been donating their tresses for years to make wigs for patients.

“After I heard their story, I wanted to get my hair cut, too, so I could donate,” says Wei. “I wore my hair long for 18 years because I was training for ballet, but after I started college, I had no time to dance anymore.”

Last year during the summer holiday, Wei returned to her hometown, Ji’nan in east China’s Shandong Province, and started to look for hair donation charities, but she found none.

“It seemed that no one realized how big the impact is when people lose their hair in addition to having to battle cancer,” says Wei.

She discussed the situation with Li and another friend, Wang Suruo, who is now studying at the State University of New York at Buffalo.

The three decided to take action. They founded the organization and put out a call for hair donations on social media sites.

The response was beyond their expectations. Local media in Ji’nan wrote about the program, and netizens spread the reports on social media.

The organization received e-mails from college students in China, Singapore, India and the US. People started to send in their cut hair.

The next step was to find a company willing to make the wigs. That was complicated.

“We tried to contact companies through social media,” says Wei. “The first company we looked at was a well-known enterprise, but people at the company took a dim view of our appeal. Just when we had almost given up hope, a hair product factory contacted us and said it would volunteer to make wigs for us.”

The charity has now established branches in Tsinghua University, Shanghai International Studies University, Shanghai Foreign Language School and Beijing Foreign Studies University.

The Cancer Foundation of China distributes wigs to hospitals.

Ye Junxian, a new graduate with Tsinghua University, says she didn’t know about the organization until she wanted to change her hairstyle.

“I decided to have my hair cut short and then I thought of the program,” says Ye. “I never thought that cutting hair could help people.”

Ye told her hairdresser to collect all the cut hair and put it in a sealed bag.

“I hope this will give some patient some hope,” she says.

Li says next year around graduation season, the charity will host a big hair donation campaign on the Songjiang campus in Shanghai. The bicycle tour will also become a regular activity.

“As we get more experience at this, we hope to expand the charity’s reach,” she says.


Time: 2015-06-25 Visitor: