Dozens in Dubai donate hair to cancer survivors

The event was held as part of World Cancer Day

Merlyn George, 10, gets her hair cut in support of cancer patients and survivors.

 More than 100 women, men, and children but their hair to make wigs for cancer victims, as part of Protect Your Mom International event at the Consulate General of India in Dubai.
(Photo: Reem Mohammed/The National)

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More than 100 people donated lengths of their hair in Dubai on Tuesday as part of World Cancer Day.

Woman and children of all ages queued up at the Consulate General of India in the emirate to take part.

Organisers said the locks would be made into wigs for women who have lost hair undergoing chemotherapy.

The event was organised by Hair for Hope India, a group which aims to support those suffering from cancer.

“Many women who are having treatment for cancer simply cannot face looking at themselves in the mirror,” said Premi Mathew, founder and chief executive of Hair for Hope India.

“They dream of having hair again and it’s often the case that only their fellow cancer patients can truly understand what they are going through because it’s so unique.

“We want to show that women who have cancer can still look gorgeous and take away the stigma.

“If we can create perceptions about cancer patients and how a cancer survivor looks, then no one needs to fear chemotherapy.”

World Cancer Day – marked each year on February 4 – aims to raise awareness of cancer and encourage its prevention, detection and treatment.

Organisers at the event in Dubai said the donated hair would be sent to Friends of Cancer Patients in Sharjah.

Ms Mathew, 55, who is herself a breast cancer survivor, urged women to ensure they were screened regularly.

Only 66 per cent of women in India live more than five years after being diagnosed with breast cancer, according to a 2018 study reported by the Lancet. This compares with 90 per cent of women in the US and Australia.

“My husband was a doctor and when I suspected I might have breast cancer he made me do a biopsy straight away to catch it,” Ms Mathew said.

“Weeks can be absolutely critical as cancer can spread so incredibly fast.

“Even mere days can make a huge difference so it’s important to act as quickly as you can.”

Goolcher Navdar, 60, told The National that she too had beaten cancer.

“People think that cancer means death but it doesn’t have to,” she said.

“When I was diagnosed I realised I didn’t want to die. I wanted to stay alive for my daughter and son.

“It’s important for people with breast cancer to stay positive and not despair as it can be beaten.”