My job is about making people feel good about themselves. The better you feel about yourself, the more you are ready to face the world. Given the horror of cancer this may seem like a small thing but though Lina and the women I’ve met through Hair Reborn I know how much this means.
I have learnt so much about the effect of chemo on hair and on the effect it has on women. I’ve seen Lina overjoyed by a half inch sprout of tufty hair, I’ve seen women sitting in radiotherapy still wearing hats or wigs hiding several month’s growth of hair that they don’t know what to do with. “The hair that’s grown back is awful,” one woman told my wife. “I don’t know if I should go to a barber’s because I can’t face going to a hairdresser. What would they think?”
Three years on, this is what I know. Your hair will grow back but at first it will probably be wiry, curly and difficult to manage. It may be white or grey. You may be horrified and ashamed by what you see but please don’t be because if I don’t have a cure for cancer I do have a cure for your hair.
You and your hair need special treatment. You won’t be sat in the middle of the salon and asked about your holidays. You won’t be asked to pay. You will sit in a quiet space. It may take time to take your hat or your wig off. We get it. We are trained. And we care. Your hair – just like you – has been damaged. It needs chemical free products – not baby shampoo – it needs shaping, it needs as much love and care as you do. It can take up to three sessions before you are ready to finally remove that scarf. But I promise. You will do. The greatest satisfaction I’ve had since Hair Reborn began is watching a woman walk out of the door with her head held high and a smile on her face. It makes me feel like we are winning.
So why did I start Hair Reborn? The answer is, quite simply, because I love my wife and because I am so very, very grateful I still have my wife. We met when we were both kids and the very first thing I noticed about her was her beautiful long brown hair. Three years on from cancer my wife has changed. She – and her hair – is stronger and more beautiful than ever before. She – and her hair – are reborn.
With special thanks to Louise Gannon for writing our stories.