So, you may have seen my recent blog post about my hair loss story, and the bizarre turn of events that led to it growing back again… longer than ever. What I didn’t tell you back then was that before that piece was even published, I already had the appointment booked in to get the whole lot chopped off again. Wondering why? Allow me to share…
Something you may not know about me is that not much frustrates me more than the fact I can’t donate blood. I’m chronically ill, and two of my conditions automatically prohibit me from being a blood or stem cell donor. So before we go any further, let me take a second to encourage you to check out the criteria for donation: having a chronic illness DOESN’T automatically rule you out, but it does depend on your diagnosis. You can find all the information you need on this NHS page – if you can, please, please consider donating for those of us who can’t. The world needs blood donations more than ever, and you could genuinely save a life.
To me, not being able to become a blood donor was just one more example of long-term illness taking away autonomy over your body. It’s yet another thing where the luxury of choice has been removed, because of chronic ill-health. And I’m sure you can imagine frustrating that can be, particularly when it comes to something you care about so much. So in 2016, towards the end of my university days, I sat down and had a good think about the things I DO have control over. It was way back then when I first decided to commit to what we shall affectionately name The Big Chop.
Somehow, I managed to keep the secret for the two and a half years it took to grow my hair long enough, but I can finally, finally share that I’ve donated 12 inches (a foot!) of my hair to The Little Princess Trust. Ayyyyy! *swishes newly cropped hair dramatically like Glinda*
Should you not already be familiar with them, The Little Princess Trust are a gorgeous charity who make and provide real hair wigs for children and young people up to 24 years old, free of charge. The wigs go to those who’ve lost their hair, not just from cancer but from a whole host of other conditions, and that’s something I’m keen to stress: so often there’s this misconception that the majority of hair loss results only from cancer treatment and alopecia, when in fact it can be a consequence of a whole range of other conditions and causes too. Again, please do check out my recent hair loss post if you’d like to read more on this.
I made a conscious decision not to tell people about my intentions beforehand, purely because there was a small part of me that thought I’d chicken out of actually doing it. The more my hair grew, the more I came to the rather inconvenient realisation that I actually did love having it long. The longer hair definitely came with repercussions (namely, multiple incidents of getting it trapped in closed car doors. 0/10 would not recommend), but people have been so complimentary in recent months that it’s taken genuine restraint not to confide that I’d be waving goodbye to the luscious…ish locks soon.
By the same token, I also decided not to fundraise on this occasion. It’s important to make clear that donating my hair wasn’t a selfless act on my part: I’m not the biggest fan ever of my appearance, and from the start I wanted to make sure that I was happy with my final haircut, even if that meant having fewer centimetres of hair to donate. People have already given so generously to my fundraising for Spoonie Survival Kits, and I’d much rather you lot save your pennies and donate to those braving the shave or a much more reckless hair chopping act than what I’ve done here.
However, what I’d like you to take away from this post is that donating your hair doesn’t have to be a huge ground-breaking shebang of a deal. Sure, it was a little nerve-wracking and it’s a fairly big change for me, especially as somebody with not the greatest amount of body confidence at the time of writing, but it’s hair. It WILL grow back. It takes an average of seven hair donations to make one wig, so if you’re thinking about a haircut, why not consider growing it a little longer and donating too? Give it some thought: you can find all the criteria you need on this page. If this post plants even a mere thought of donating in the future in your mind, I’ll be so pleased.
It’s a haircut to you, but your contribution could help to turn around a young person’s illness experience. For me personally, it feels brilliant to know that I’ve done what I can. I may not be able to give blood or stem cells, but I did have the autonomy to give my hair instead. And I’d absolutely love for you to join me. Swish swish.
Have you ever thought about donating your hair? Tell me your story in the comments below!