The truth about my shaved head
Frankly, a hair donation is not worth talking about, and I would never have written this column if it were not for the fact I was very taken aback by the amount of attention my shaved head seemed to bring. I figured that, while I have that attention, I may as well use the opportunity and try and say something meaningful.
Hair donation has been something I have been thinking about for quite some time. Honestly, it was a bit of a selfish solution. I have struggled with trichotillomania since junior high. If that’s a new word to you – it’s is an impulse-control disorder on the obsessive compulsive spectrum. In my case, it means that I pull out my hair, and end up with some noticeable bald patches and occasionally an awkward pile of hair around wherever I’ve been sitting. It is a recurring issue that becomes more pronounced in times of stress, and it’s something I have felt fairly self-conscious about since my adolescence. My own hair issues got me thinking about how there are many more people out there who are losing hair from other causes where they, too, have no control. Hair donation seemed like a win-win: an easy way to take control of my hair situation, and help another person take back control of their appearance.
With no offense intended to the people who have commended my ‘bravery’ – I have to be honest and say that there wasn’t any bravery involved. It was a practical choice that helped me with my own struggles and gave me an opportunity to do something good with all that hair. Cancer, on the other hand, can be loaded with uncertainty and fear. The very utterance of the word can grow a knot in your stomach and begin an ache in your throat. I have seen the way it has impacted friends and family – both those who are diagnosed and those who care for them. The real bravery is in those people who are fighting this disease in its many forms, and the many different types of pain different struggles that take place with it.
When you are looking for a way to comfort or help someone who is fighting cancer, words are never enough. Anything, however well-intentioned or sincere, can sound trite. Knowing WHAT to do is difficult too – and varies by situation. Some people need financial support, some people could use a homemade meal delivered, some people could use a hand with their business, a drive to medical appointments, a babysitter for their children – the list goes on. For those who want to come alongside those who are in this particular fight, I believe that being willing, available, and offering the resources at our disposal are really the best ways to help.
As a Christian, I find that telling people where I find peace and strength is kind of an empty – if not offensive – gesture if all they ever hear from me is words. Similar to “cancer awareness” – knowledge alone doesn’t change things. I am the furthest thing from a perfect example: I can be moody, disagreeable, and downright obnoxious at times (just ask my parents!) but I’m working on growing in my relationship with Jesus, and thankfully, He changes things. Part of growing in a relationship with him means looking for ways to actively show God’s love. A profession of faith without any change in behaviour renders that profession irrelevant – there’s no proof that there is any substance to it. However, if people can see a glimpse of love in the choices I make, then I think it’s important to share where it comes from because He is of far more value and assistance than a few chunks of hair.
Shaving a head is a small thing, a small way I have tried to support people who are in the midst of a very big struggle. On its own, it’s meaningless. A single wig requires about ten individual donations – and a wig is only a head covering to assist with one of the many side effects of fighting a disease. That’s not to say the small things don’t matter though, because they do. It’s a combination of small things from enough people that leads to big things happening – all we need to do is be available and willing to share the resources available to us.
If you think hair donation might be a good fit for you, I’d recommend 360 Hair – they’re Canadian, volunteer-run, and they’ll take previously dyed hair, grey hair, etc., as well. Full details are on their website: www.360-hair.com/how-to-donate-hair/. Feel free to connect with my girl Paula at Hair Waves in town too – she’s a pro at donation cuts (and pretty much anything else you could want)!