It’s Just Hair

I remember when I was little, my mother would take me to the hair salon for a special moment with her. She would be so patient and understanding as I almost always would walk out of the hair salon, after she spent good money for my new haircut, only to hear me say how I didn’t like it, or that my hair was cut too short. Everyone would say how blessed I was to have such thick hair, but that would lend itself to terrible chops with layers or the dreaded thinning scissors…

I don’t remember my mother ever saying “it’s just hair” but she most likely did say that more than once since I would lament for days over my haircuts, feeling uncomfortable and embarrassed.

Well, that was a long time ago.

Today I can look back and still be understanding with my young self, since those years are the ones that make you feel uncomfortable to begin with, forget the haircut.

Later, I lived in Europe for a few years with my husband and there I got many bad haircuts. I was older, and away from friends, and could justify that a bad haircut wouldn’t last long and it was only hair anyway.

When I was pregnant my hair changed, as it does, and not long after the birth of my first child, I decided to cut off my hair. Why, I have no idea, but I remember thinking what a terrible mistake I had made. I still remember how long it took to grow out…

Today my hair is long, and thick, and it has a wash-in to cover my greys (if you haven’t read, I have Anna hair). My children love me with long hair. They play with my locks while they talk to me. They try to braid my hair while I’m sitting down. And they get a kick out of me when I put my hair in funny buns with clips and elastics.

Although it is just hair, there are so many memories wrapped around it. Good memories and bad memories, connected with feelings of empowerment, confidence, shyness, embarrassment… Strong emotions come from…hair.

When I heard about CanDonate Hair Program (Programme DonEspoir) I knew it was something I wanted to participate in. CanDonate is the only non-profit organization in Quebec authorised to accept hair donations. And if I was going to donate my hair, I wanted to support a local charity.

I have had some amazing colleagues, friends and their daughters participate in similar charity organized events over the years across Canada and the US, and I was always amazed by their strength to chop, sometimes shave, all their hair off. I first heard of CanDonate October event, my hair was too short to participate. So since then, I have been waiting and now my length is long enough. Granted, I will have the shortest haircut after this since I was a kid, but it will be worth it.


– My hair grows. Every damn day. I am blessed with thick and healthy locks and for me, now, it really is just hair.

– To others battling cancer, the hair I cut off will be able to help make natural-hair wings for them. And for most dealing with chemotherapy, the cost of a wig is not in the cards. These wigs created are donated to children and adults, completely free of charge.

– I do this in honour of my parents, who both passed away from cancer. I have seen firsthand, as many of you have, what cancer can do to a person physically and emotionally. When I look in the mirror after my cut, I will think of my parents and what they went through. And I will be proud knowing I have made a very small difference in someone’s morale, dealing with an unimaginable moment.

– I am showing my children a different side of me. My local charity that I manage is an event I coordinate. But this is a physical difference that they will see on me. I have explained to them why I am doing this and how it will benefit a young lady or woman who cannot grow hair right now. They have had moments where they have asked me not to cut off my hair. But after I explained why I was doing it, they not only accepted my decision but compassionately embraced the idea.

My haircut will be live on stage at the Part of Me Gala event taking place in Montreal on June 17th. This is CanDonate’s first gala, however the program is celebrating its 10th year donating hair to cancer patients. I spoke briefly with Laurie Brown, the founder of CanDonate and her estimate is that they have been able to create approximately 100 wigs each year for the last 10 years for cancer patients. This is an incredible accomplishment, and it got me thinking: how difficult is it to participate as a person or even as a hair salon? Laurie said it couldn’t be easier now. For more information on donating your hair, click here.

There are many charities you can give your hair to individually, just be sure to read the requirements of the charity of choice before cutting your hair. For CanDonate, I read the fine print and was pleasantly surprised. There were a few things I thought prevented me from participating, so I thought I would share it with you, in case you think of participating in the future.

Requirements & Misconceptions:

  • You do not need to have “virgin hair” or hair that has not been dyed. I double checked and having hair colour in your hair is acceptable for your donation
  • Reversely, your hair can be treated, grey or white in colour as well
  • Your donated hair must be a minimum of 8 inches long
  • You must have washed and dried hair for their donation cut

NOTE: This is not for everyone. I took a look online at young girls cutting their hair. Some that shaved their heads had a traumatic shock full of tears. I encourage you to talk with your children about compassion and giving back, but know that shaving a child’s head can be very emotional for them. There are other ways to donate to a charity of your choice, if this isn’t right for your child.

That said, if you are looking to donate in some way to this incredible foundation, please come to the gala event on the 17th. The 10 women who are dealing with cancer right now will be honoured and presented their wigs. There are raffle prizes and some other surprises, I was told. Tickets are still available, but Laurie informed me that it will be better to reserve your tickets in advance as only a small amount will be available at the door.

I hope to see you there if you are in Montreal, it’s a great reason to have a night out. And if you are not in town, you can make a donation directly as well.

To learn more about the CanDonate Hair Foundation, please click here. You can also visit them on Facebook.

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