Losing hair for cancer awareness

Mr Samual Tan, 28, and Madam Tan Sai Chang, 69, had their heads shaved at 2014's Hair for Hope event.
PHOTO: Losing hair for cancer awareness

SINGAPORE - When 20-year-old Teo Wee Hong had cancer treatment three years ago, he started to lose hair, and people stared.

But last Thursday, the leukaemia survivor had his head shaved on purpose - to show his support for those still battling the disease.

"When I went through treatment... I got a lot of funny looks," recalled the National University of Singapore undergraduate.

Mr Teo was one of more than 300 people who signed up to have their locks shorn at the first of this year's Hair for Hope events, which was held at the Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery.

Organised annually by the Children's Cancer Foundation (CCF), Hair for Hope aims to raise funds and awareness about childhood cancer through head-shaving events.

Cancer patients often lose their hair because powerful chemotherapy drugs that kill the fast-growing cancer cells also attack other fast-growing cells such as hair roots.

Yesterday marked the start of this year's campaign, which will culminate in a two-day event in July.

CCF executive director Neo Lay Tin thanked participants for coming together "to tell children with cancer... that they are not alone".

The foundation hopes to encourage at least 6,500 people to "make a bald statement" this year, and raise about $3.6 million. Last year, more than 7,000 people took part, raising about $4 million for the charity.

Another participant was administration officer Vera Koh, 40, who first had her head shaved at a Hair for Hope event four years ago.

She stopped taking part because her daughter objected to how she looked. But this year, Ms Koh won her daughter's support by saying that shaving her head was a "birthday present" to herself.

"I hardly look in the mirror, so I don't feel any different," Ms Koh said. "It is just hair. It will grow back."

linettel@sph.com.sg


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