Due to a decreased demand of real-hair wigs by cancer patients, the Canadian Cancer Society will no longer be accepting hair donations after Dec. 31.
The organization has partnered with Pantene since 2006 for the Beautiful Lengths Program, which has taken donated hair and provided cancer patients with free wigs. More than 70,000 ponytails have been donated in Canada during this time.
In a statement, the Canadian Cancer Society said: “In recent years, synthetic-hair technology has vastly improved, giving synthetic hair wigs more of a “real-hair” feel, making them lighter and cooler to wear and easier to style.”
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Pantene says there is enough hair to continue to provide real-hair wigs until 2022. The Cancer Society said they are looking for new options for those who wish to donate their hair.
“A synthetic wig is much more convenient,” says Tara Torchia, who owns The Unexpected Gift, a store selling items to support cancer patients. “You can wash them, hang them to dry, style it in the morning. With real hair, you have to style it or blow dry it or curl-iron it.”
At her Portage Avenue store, she only sells synthetic wigs, but says real-hair wigs can cost up to $1,500. Now that a program providing them to cancer patients for free is being phased out, she worries about those who still prefer real hair.
“It is expensive and the idea of having a real-hair wig provided for you at no cost…I think that’s an enticing situation and it will be gone, that’s the unfortunate part.”
Torchia said she accepts hair donations at her store and sends them to a salon in B.C., where they are donated to kids.
Tammy McBain said her daughter Kendra, who died of cancer in 2009, had a real-hair wig and loved it.
“I just know how happy it made Kendra when she had access to a wig of real hair that felt as close to her hair as it could,” McBain said.
“It makes me sad there could be other people out there that aren’t going to have something to make them happy.”
McBain has chopped off her locks several times and donated them to the Canadian Cancer Society.
“I was disappointed to find that out. We had family and friends that donated hair, not just to help others, but almost to help themselves. It made them feel like they were doing something to help Kendra,” McBain said.
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