Thousands in Sharjah donate hair to support cancer patients

It is then shipped to New York where wigs are made for a good cause

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Thousands of people in Sharjah donated their hair to support cancer patients having chemotherapy.

Friends of Cancer Patients society in Sharjah said more than 4,000 people donated hair in 2020 and last year.

Of these, 50 per cent were children, 45 per cent women and 5 per cent were men.

The donated hair is sent to a New York non-profit company, Butterflies BBI, which makes wigs given free to people suffering from hair loss.

These wigs are then shipped to Sharjah free of cost by DHL, the society's logistics partner.

It felt very odd to be without hair. Women take pride and love their hair, and I am no different
Zeba Zakaria, cancer survivor

Real-hair wigs, which are estimated to cost Dh1,000 each, are then provided to patients free of charge.

Cancer survivor Zeba Zakaria, 49, from India, said she was sad when she lost all her hair during chemotherapy after a cancer diagnosis in 2019.

“I felt uncomfortable even when I was with my husband and children at home,” Ms Zeba told The National.

“It felt very odd to be without hair. Women take pride and love their hair, and I am no different, although I wear a hijab.”

The mother of two said she was very happy and regained her confidence to go out after she got the wig from the cancer society.

Sawsan Jafar, chairwoman of the society's board of directors, said more people were donating their hair despite the pandemic restrictions in place since 2020.

“We have seen an increase in the number of people donating their hair to help us support cancer patients. Our extensive awareness schemes have helped,” she said.

Ms Jafar said more than 10,000 cancer sufferers and their families and members of the public took part in hundreds of activities in 2021 to raise awareness and provide moral support to patients.

“Such events create general awareness and help bring more focus to the importance of early detection of all types of cancer, whether is it breast, cervical, lung or any other cancer,” she said.

With the help of the cancer society, about 356 patients and their families received Dh3.5 million in financial support last year.

The money helped cover expenses of medicine, chemotherapy, radiotherapy, surgery, laboratory tests, bone marrow transplants, medical tools, artificial limbs and even food coupons.

During the first half of this year, the society organised the ‘I Deserve to Live’ campaign that raised Dh1.5m to support 169 patients.

It also teamed up with AstraZeneca to launch the country’s first New Normal, Same Cancer campaign in March last year.

The event set out to ensure people across the UAE had access to cancer care during the pandemic and it helped 269 patients.

The society also organised a forum during Sharjah International Book Fair last year that provided a platform for cancer survivors to share their success stories and bring hope to others.

A book that narrates patients’ journeys from diagnosis to treatment was launched at the event.

Updated: September 24, 2022, 4:00 AM