Little Priyashanthi’s face was wreathed in a smile as she saw her reflection in the mirror a few days ago. The 13-year old who was wheel chair bound due to the surgery she had undergone a month ago seemed a bit overwhelmed at the attention she received before and after she wore the wig donated by the Cancer Care Trust.

Last July the child who hails from Pundaluoya had had a fall while running and complained of a leg pain thereafter. The parents had applied some balm but their concern grew as the pain persisted. Multiple visits to various doctors resulted in a diagnosis of cancer. The shocked parents rushed to the Maharagama Cancer Hospital where a course of chemotherapy was begun. Thereafter the child underwent surgery to amputate the cancer-affected leg. Having lost her hair due to the chemotherapy, she was keen on a wig which would ease her return to school until her hair grows back. She told this to a visiting Cancer Care Trust team and she got her wig. “The baby of the family who refuses to be still was given a new lease on life by the wig,”said her doting father Rasu Gunesvaran.

The official launch of,’Your Hair Can Help Someone Who No Longer Has Hair’ took place on July 20. This benevolent endeavour initiated by the Cancer Care Trust in conjunction with Ramani Fernando Salons and wig-maker Lalith Dharmawardane went viral two-three weeks ago on social media. “This in turn spurred an avalanche of donors who pledged their support by donating their hair without a moment’s hesitation, so much so that we found it overwhelming,’ confessed Ramani, who felt privileged to be part of such a magnanimous venture. “When Dr. Lanka who has been a long standing client of mine approached me with her suggestion, I was eager to help in anyway I could and I am glad that it I can contribute to society through my career which has spanned 40 years.”

Lalith Dharmawardene, the only human hair wig make in Sri Lanka, with 49 years of experience in making wigs for the Sinhala and international cinema was drawn into this effort due to a personal loss. “My mother passed away due to cancer, which has led me to do whatever I could to alleviate the suffering caused by this dreaded disease. Most often cancer victims, especially the women and young girls are subject to cruel taunts due to the loss of their hair. At times mothers who undergo chemotherapy have to bear the added burden of being rejected by their little ones who cannot deal with the idea of their mother being bald. This has been the reality and sad plight of cancer patients since the discovery of this dreaded disease in the island. I believe that the launch of Cancer Care Trust will provide a panacea for the ills (physical and psychological) faced by the patients and their kith and kin,” he revealed.

A Startling Discovery

The unprecedented effort by CCT was spearheaded by the dedicated team of volunteers who researched on the subject of human hair wigs and were surprised by what they found. “The normal cost of a wig goes up to 190,000 as there has never been a human hair collection center making Leslie Dharmawardene import human hair from India at the cost of Rs70,000 for 500mg of hair ( a costly transaction to say the least). These statistics spawned the birth of this effort which has received rave reviews from the young and old, who have eagerly donated their locks.

The Value of Your Hair

Consider the all- important fact that your hair which can be grown again is a precious gift to a woman or child. Therefore please ensure that the hair being donated meets these requirements;

* Ensure that the hair has a minimum length of 8 inches. There is no maximum length.

* Hair should be clean with no oil, hair spray, hair gel, mousse or any other material.

* Shampoo and condition the hair without any styling spray or additional hair products a day prior to donating the hair.

* Hair has to be dry before donating

* It has to be in a ponytail or braid.

* Grey hair, coloured or permed hair is acceptable. Layered hair too is accepted if the shortest layer is eight inches in length.

Hair can be donated at any one of the 14 Ramani Fernando Salons located in Sri Lanka.

A free cut and blow dry will be given to the donor along with a certificate.

Two wigs per month will be made available at the concessionary cost of Rs25,000 to the CCT, who in turn will donate it free to a patient.

Since the production of a wig is time consuming and costly and requires eight to 15 ponytails of donated hair to make a wig, the general public is urged to offer further assistance to cancer patients by sponsoring a wig for them at a cost of Rs25,000.

Cancer patients too can request a wig through this venture by submitting a request form to the CCT.

Going a Step Further

We all have a choice in life and we can allow sorrows to drag us down or be a stepping stone to enrich and heal another person’s life

Dr. Lanka gave her emotional testimony about the reason why she has dedicated her life to this effort which was established after the demise of her only sister Indira Jayasuriya. This writer saw many posts of FB being dedicated to this amazing lady who had been diagnosed with cancer eight years ago. Through sheer determination and support, she had overcome the disease, going on to have her first child. It was after the news of her second pregnancy that she discovered that the cancer had recurred going to her liver and lymph glands. But this resolute young woman with a smile that brightened the lives of many, refused to allow it to rule her life. She deferred treatment until her son Dilan was born on May 15, 2015.

The youngest daughter of Speaker Karu Jayasuriya and Dr. Vasantha Jayasuriya, Indira’s life ebbed away on November 2, 2016. The bereaved family were determined to keep her memory alive by touching as many lives as they could through the Cancer Care Trust.

Gaining the invaluable support of individuals such as Dr. Samadhi W. Rajapakse, (the CEO of CCT and Founder of the Cancer Care Association of Sri Lanka) and many others has enabled CCT to offer maximum support to cancer patients islandwide.

For further information on this initiative or matters related to cancer please call the ‘Hope Line’ on 0112 363 211.

Pix by Saman Abeysiriwardane

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About Rochelle Gunaratne

I believe that everyone has a story to tell and in turn, I love listening to those stories, attempting to paint a picture to my readers with my words. I may not be an artist or painter, but I believe words can create powerful images in ones mind and it is how we share our stories with others.
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