Donating Your Hair

Three Decembers ago, Mimi had her hair cut off and donated to make a wig for a child with cancer. It was a really positive experience — the sort of thing that stays with you. So once again, her hair has grown out (see above), and she’s been considering another donation.

That long ago gift was such a real, tangible way for Maude to do service. And it was also the ideal opportunity to sit down as a family and talk about how to fight cancer, and things we can do to support cancer victims.

Since not every child can donate their hair, I’d love to hear some other ideas. Have you talked to your kids about cancer? Or had to explain about a suddenly bald head among the relatives? Have your kids offered support or service to a cancer victim? What has worked in your family?

P.S. — If you know a mother of young children who has lost all her hair to cancer, this book might help.

47 thoughts on “Donating Your Hair”

  1. I’ve donated twice to Locks of Love. They don’t have any programs like that here in England, but I’m glad I did it while I was able in the States.

    1. They do have programmes like that here in the UK, my daughter just donated to The Little Princess Trust. She enjoys doing it , this was her second donation!

  2. I donate my hair after I have each of my babies, since it grows so fast and thick while I’m pregnant and falls out anyway after I have the baby. It makes me happy to think that someone’s getting some use out of that hair.

  3. My daughter wants to do every fund raising event offered at school for any disease or ailment. I love her enthusiasm, but am not sure where all the money goes and I know most of her motivation is for the prizes she can earn if she solicits x number of dollars. One flyer said we could opt out of the prize so more money could go toward the research. Meaning, some of her solicited donations went towards cheap t shirts and plastic balls. Being a runner and having a desire to share my passion with my family I have decided to look for races that are organized to raise funds. Lots are smaller races or have smaller races my kids can participate in. And we buy my little girl a shirt as well so she can get her “prize”. I still run races that are not fund raisers, but I make a point to get some fund raising races in too. I figure I’d run a bunch of races this year anyhow..why not make some of them help others rather than just myself.

  4. This topic is close to my heart. My daughter has cancer. She was just turning six when she was diagnosed. At first, it was hard for her to loose her hair but she handled it so gracefully. She never wanted a wig or even hats. Instead she wears headbands with flowers or ribbons dangling from them. Unfortunately, her cancer just relapsed, and she’s loosing her hair all over again. But she always amazes me with her positive attitude. (You can read more about our story on my blog!)

    There are many ways to help kids with cancer. One of my favorites is hosting a Lemonade Stand through Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation. It’s a great organization and the money helps fund important research. That’s what these kids really need — cures! Childhood cancer research is appallingly underfunded – it only receives less than 3% of the total National Cancer Institute’s budget.

    Thanks for posting about this, Gabrielle!

    1. Oh man, Shelly! I’m so glad you commented so we can all send prayers and well wishes for your daughter. I love thinking of her ditching the wigs and hats and embracing the bald!

  5. Olive donated her hair a few weeks ago. She loves the look…and the fact she helped.
    here’s the pic! 12 inches of pretty ginger blond hair.

    then sadly enough you can see the post the day after where my son has acquired stress related Alopecia at age 14.5. (god bless High school!) He is not really a candidate for a wig, but you can see the stress it may cause when you look at the pics of his lil balding head. The pictures were a few weeks ago, and now he is even worse. Any child you can help take away stress is a good thing!

  6. I donated my hair to the Pantene Beautiful Lengths program in honor of my aunt, who was diagnosed with lung cancer. Locks of Love is a fabulous program, but they only make wigs for children, and I wanted to donate to a place where my aunt could get help if she needed it. The Pantene program does adult wigs! :)

  7. I’d love to do this, but never have. I never thought about being able to do it with your children. That would be a great conversation starter and tangible way to make a difference. Will look into it for myself!

    ps. last link (donate their hair) doesn’t work. Little typo in there.

  8. I’m sure we will have that conversation with our kids once they are older. My father passed away from cancer the first year of being retired and both my kids never met him. I participate as a volunteer in different cancer fundraising groups, so involving my kids going forward will be most likely.

  9. Both my girls have donated their hair in the past. I lost my younger brother to cancer 11 years ago, so finding ways to feel like I’m helping has always been important. My sister participated in a really neat pen pal program for kids with cancer. While she loved this, I wouldn’t advise it for everyone- the children you develop relationships with sometimes do not get better and that is too difficult for some. However, our brother commented once how awkward it felt for him when people avoided him out of not knowing what to say. So, we promised ourselves that we would never let that keep us from drawing close to someone.

  10. You’ve just inspired me to donate my hair. :) I was planning on a big style change (currently mid way down my back and hoping to get a bob) when I start teacher training and now I’m determined given the cause. The Little Princess Trust will be receiving my hair thanks to you, Gabrielle. :)

  11. We have have known several children with cancer in our neighborhood, unfortunately, so my children are well acquainted with it and with ways to help support the families. We bring meals; we’ve worked at the local Ronald McDonald house, meeting the families who stay there and cooking meals for them, and we’ve also participated in the website Lotsa Helping Hands.

    Bravo to Maude for giving up her gorgeous hair for these children!

  12. When I was younger (probably about Maude’s age) I donated my hair to Locks of Love.
    Additionally, as a service project for my Bar Mitzvah, I created “Caps and Candy for Children with Cancer” – People donated hats of all sorts, as well as candy and fun, kid-friendly band-aids that I then donated to a local children hospital. It was all very well received; the hats went to kids that lost their hair, but the other things are good for all the children with various illnesses. Getting blood drawn on a regular basis is not as bad with candy treats and fun bandages afterwards.

  13. I am so grateful for sweet people, like your Maude, who donate their hair. It seems like a fairly painless sacrifice, but it means so much to those who have nothing left. When my sister in law was going through chemo and radiation it was such a sweet gift that the hospital was able to give her a wig. But something that the family found was really fun: decorating her room with some sort of fun party theme for each treatment. She loved the visitors and the extra bit of spice that came with them. Maybe you could suggest to your readers donating a little theme party in a bag. We had fiestas and disguise parties and I can’t remember what else. But it was a great way to try to get past the hard reality staring at us from each of the very white walls.

  14. I’ve donated 3 times so far. My hair grows really fast, so it just seems like a logical thing to do. In August I donated 13 inches in honor of my aunt & grandmother, both of whom are undergoing treatment for cancer. Kudos to Maude for her generosity!

  15. I donated my hair about 5 years ago, and I’m so happy I did. It was also fun to get a new short hair-do! Really…for someone w/ lots of hair, it’s just hair, but for someone who doesn’t have any, it’s such a gift.

  16. Your posts are perfectly timed as usual! I’ve been growing my hair for a couple of years now (it grows soooooo slowly!) and am just now getting tired of it. It’s lovely and straight and blond, but I’m ready for short hair again. Now I have a purpose! Yea!!

  17. I love, love, love your blog :-) and this topic especially touched my heart!
    My little boy suffered from leukemia a few years ago. He was four and a half at the time he lost his hair, but really he didn’t seem to mind it so much. The men in our family shaved their heads and that was a really great statement for my son :-)

    I was amazed that his little friends just accepted him the way he looked and were so easy going. They asked “normal” kid’s questions like “did it hurt when you hair fell off” and after that they didn’t seem to think so much more about it.

    I think it was more difficult for adults… I remember the day his hair started falling off, about two weeks in to treatment, and it was so symbolic. That was was when I really got it; my son has cancer! On good days when we could leave the hospital adults would often look with very sad eyes at his little bald head. I know they only meant well, but it was still difficult to take at times.

    I think it it such a great idea to help children that suffer from losing their hair. Your girl is so sweet and seems to have a very big heart.

    Today my son is healthy again and thanks to all the great people around us the memories of that difficult period in our life are mostly bright!

  18. My 7 year old daughter has a friend who is growing her hair out for Locks of Love, she has talked about it with her, and we have talked about how people can lose their hair with illness like cancer – she has some memories, and pictures, from when her grandmother died from lung cancer when she was 3 (as she put it then “Memaw smoked, and then she died, and then we got her cat”). My hair has grown out some (b/c I’m a mom and never get around to taking care of it myself!) and think this might be a great way for my husband to ok the “short” ‘do I’ve been considering…. :-) Go Mimi!

  19. Close to 10 years ago now, my 2 nieces and I decided to grow our hair out to donate. Unfortunately, at a certain point that’s far short of the minimum, my growth slows to a crawl and everything gets stringy. We agreed that a kid with cancer would look at my sad wig and say “no thanks!” but I did go with the girls and we all got our hair cut together. What a great experience.

  20. My father is a cancer survivor, my father-in-law is currently fighting brain cancer, my husband’s college aged assistant is a survivor, and my 6 year old son’s best friend is a survivor. This is in addition to 4 aunts, a grandmother, 2 uncles, and many friends who have had cancer.
    Obviously, this is a cause dear to my family’s hearts! Every year we participate in Relay for Life; not just walking, but spending months fundraising. We cook food, sew quilts, collect sponsors, and play bluegrass music. My son even got to be in an American Cancer Society video with his friend.
    We are very open and honest with our children about what cancer means and what it can do to people. If they are uninformed, they are unable to help.
    We want them to believe that even children can make a difference.

  21. I just donated 14 inches of my to Angel Hair for Kids…a program for children with cancer that are financially disadvanged and can’t afford the nice wigs..

    being 55, i do have some gray in the mix (no dye) and every where i looked, they were very restrictive on the % of gray. When i read about Angel Hair for Kids i knew i found the right place. My hair was past my waist, but it grows fast and i will donate again.
    I create and do many things for charity because i am in a position that i can, i am so blessed.

    Each day I hope each of you crosses the path of someone who needs you in their day.


  22. I cut all of my hair off to donate once I had my son 2 years ago. It was always something I had wanted to do. I am growing my hair out again and will most likely donate again someday.

  23. We haven’t donated to Locks of Love but when a good friend of mine was diagnosed with breast cancer, she was very concerned about her loss of hair would affect her daughters. I bought them this doll, to help them play out their worries but my friend’s positive attitude and embracing of her baldness probably helped them more. My own daughter is only 5 years old but I involved her in breast cancer fundraising by letting her sell pink lemonade during a fundraiser. Plus she got a big kick out of “training” with me for a 60 mile breast cancer walk. She’s asked if she can participate in it with me when she’s older and I can’t wait to share that experience with her.

  24. Like someone else who commented, I donated to Pantene’s Beautiful Lengths Campaign. Not only do they make adult wigs – they give them away for FREE! I lost my mom to cancer in April of 2005 when I wasn’t quite 25 yet and grew out my hair and cut it in 2008 in honor of my mom. Now, I’m growing my hair out again and hope to have 8 inches to donate by next summer after my next baby is born. It’s just a little something I can do in honor of my mom!

  25. My daughter and I recently made a pillowcase for ConKerr Cancer. They have a beautiful website, with a pattern for making pillowcases that are then given to children with cancer to help brighten up their hospital room. We had a fun time making the pillowcase, and are excited for the child that receives it to have a fun pillowcase. Now my other daughter is interested in making one too. So I think we might be on to a fun project that is so rewarding. Here is the web address:

  26. I lost my father to cancer 3 years ago. Cancer is an almost tangible fiend to me. I hate it when it rears it’s ugly, vile head on my neighbors, beloved school teachers, and family. When someone fights, when someone wins, their victory is empowering for me.
    Anything that can be done to ease the burden of a cancer fighter and their battle brings me to tears. Thank you Lock of Lovers and everyone else that does something great or small for someone with cancer.
    Fight on!!

  27. My daughter (Maude’s age) grew her hair out a couple years ago as she wanted to donate to Locks of Love. We were very disappointed when we learned that LOL does not necessarily use your hair for wigs for kids with cancer or alopecia. Most of the hair is sold to wig manufacturers that sell wigs to healthy and/or financially able people – proceeds fund the few wigs they do make for candidates. It’s still could be a worthwhile cause, but just something to be aware of as your hair will likely not end up being used directly for a sick child or adult.

    Here’s one link, but there are lots if you google it.

  28. I have donated my hair before, but my sister did something that I wasn’t brave enough to do. When our mom lost all of her hair to her cancer treatments, my sister shaved her entire head in solidarity. My favorite picture is one of the two of them together with their bald heads. Our mother passed away 8 years ago.

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