Many children with cancer must undergo chemotherapy, which can resultin hair loss. Baldness can be an additional devastation on top of the illness, but there is anorganization that helps called Locks of Love. All you have to do is cut a ponytail measuring atleast 10 inches and send it to their headquarters in Florida where they make wigs for children withcancer.
My cousin T. J. was nine years old when he passed away last year from leukemia. Hewas in Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Missouri, which had a special level just forkids with cancer. I went there almost every weekend and it was really hard to see all the childrenwho couldn’t leave the hospital or were too weak to get out of bed. There were few who stillhad hair, which was really hard for them.
My cousin was in the hospital for his birthday,since he had just started chemotherapy. When he woke up on his birthday, he felt his head anddiscovered he was losing hair in large clumps. He ended up having his head shaved on his birthday,but I remember he acted like nothing was wrong. He lived his life to the fullest and never gave updoing what he wanted to do.
All of this made me want to give back to those children. Beingon the oncology floor really made me appreciate my health. They didn’t have fun like I didwith friends. Most were bald, and weak with little appetite. On the other hand, I could go outsideand play with friends. I could eat anything and keep it down; I could go to school and play sports.Being at that hospital really changed my perspective on life and helped me appreciate all myopportunities and taught me that we never know what could happen.
I made up my mind and wentto the beauty salon. At first, I was nervous, but I kept reminding myself that it was just hair andwould grow back, and then I thought about all the kids out there with no hair. And so I went aheadand cut it and instantly thought I had made the wrong choice. Well, later that week I was startingto feel really good because I knew that I helped someone and did something that few do.
Iattend to a Catholic school, and so we do service hours, but no one told me that I had to cut myhair. I did it because I wanted to give a special person something that they didn’t have.Cutting my hair was one way to show how much others mean to me and what I am willing todo.
If anyone has long hair and is willing to help someone else, I encourage you to cut itfor Locks of Love. I know that it will be a big change because it took a while to get used to, butin the end you will find that it is worth it. I know I did.
How to Donate YourHair1. Locks of Love accepts 10" minimum hair length (tip to tip).
2. Please bundle hair inponytail or braid.
3. Hair needs to be clean, dry, placed in a plastic bag and a paddedenvelope.
4. Locks of Love needs hair from men & women, young and old, allcolors.
5. Hair may be colored or permed, but not bleached or chemically damaged.
6.Hair that is short, gray, or unsuitable for children will be sold at fair market valueto offset the cost of manufacturing.
7. You may pull curly hair straight to measure theminimum 10".
8. Layered hair may be divided into multiple ponytails for donation.
9.Anyone can cut your hair as long as the above guidelines are followed
see LocksofLove.orgfor more info plus before and after photos)
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.