Heather's 'Chop for Charity'
I've been growing my hair now for quite a while - since 2016 in fact. But recently, I've been getting used to a new, shorter `do' since my `Chop for Charity'.
Four years ago, my sister-in-law was diagnosed with stage three breast cancer at the young age of just 26. Thankfully, following lengthy treatment, she is now cancer free but I wanted to do my bit to support those going through treatment, raise awareness of breast cancer and the importance of checking for signs.
As it was for my sister-in-law, it's not just the effects of the disease that they have to cope with, but also the side effects of treatment. This often includes hair loss and the impact that can have on your confidence. Having no choice but to have part of your identity stripped away is a big deal for anyone, but I could only imagine what it would feel like for a child to go through this!
That's why I decided to grow my hair as long as possible and donate it to The Little Princess Trust to be made into a wig for a young person going through cancer treatment. I wanted to make a difference and raise awareness of the support and healthcare that is available. It might not be the most conventional way of improving access to healthcare, but even if one person now knows the support they have access to then that's one less person struggling with some of the side effects of treatment.
The Little Princess Trust provides real hair wigs free of charge to children and young people up to the age of 24 who have sadly lost their own hair due to cancer treatment and other illnesses.
I found out that they had a shortage of long hair in particular, which made me determined to grow it as long as I could and in the best possible condition. I spent a small fortune on special shampoos and products and ended up with 18 inches for donation!
In the build up to having my hair cut, the nervous butterflies loomed. I'd become so used to the length I remember thinking `what will my face look like!' It feels good to know that my hair is going to help someone somewhere and I hope it makes what's already a difficult time, a little less scary.
Thank you to my friends and colleagues for being so supportive and thank you Simplyhealth for match funding the £500 I had raised. It was a real motivator to help raise as much as I could for this great charity.
But, finally, if I could just ask one thing, it's to make sure you `know your normal' and check regularly. There are many websites and charities out there for more information, but particularly for young people Coppa Feel gives a good explanation on why we should all check our boobs or pecs!