South Africa holds annual shavathon campaign for cancer awareness

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Shavathons have been running across the length and breadth of the country, with many people colouring or shaving their hair. Some do it as a sign of solidarity with cancer survivors. Others shave their heads in memory of loved-ones who had lost their battle with Cancer.

“So we do this because so many survivors lose their hair because of their treatment that they go through. Chemotherapy or Radio Therapy. And we now spray or shave our hair to show support for them¡­ We also have people who donate their hair, where they cut their hair if it’s 25 cm or longer, they can actually cut off their ponytail, to donate it to make a wig. I did it a couple of years ago, where I donated probably 50 cm of my hair. So that that I can make a wig for a cancer patient. And then we give it out at not cost.” said Este Lindner, Cancer Association of South Africa

Jane Ballot started blogging about what she calls the ‘Cancer Thing’ the day after she was diagnosed. She learned to cope with the psychological impact of losing her hair¡­ as part of her emotional journey through breast cancer.

“When my head was shaved, you know you don’t sort of see yourself. You don’t sort of notice things. And then I’d look in the mirror and I’d say Oh My gosh, I look so strange. But I think I got quite used to it quite quickly and then I got to a stage, when I thought, you know what, it doesn’t matter… And then I just accepted the fact that I had no hair and it would grow back.”said Jane Ballot, Breast Cancer Survivor

Radio DJ Mark Pilgrim discovered he had testicular cancer, which spread to other parts of his body, at the age of 18 in 1988. He has vowed never to grow his hair again.

“For many people Chemo is what makes you sick. It’s not the Cancer itself. So, for us, the dreaded C is not Cancer, it’s Chemotherapy… Chemotherapy is the outer manifestation of the disease for many people. And people think your hair just gets shorter and shorter. It’s not. You’re hair stays as long as it was. You just have these long strands. So, you have to take it off because you don’t look great. Other hair starts falling out as well. You lose your facial hair, you lose your eyebrows, guys lose their chest hair. But, why I’m still bald, is that it’s my daily reminder of what I went through all those years ago.” said Mark Pilgrim, Radio Presenter

More than 100-thousand South Africans are diagnosed with Cancer every year.One in four is affected by the disease, an increasingly devastating disease, which touches all of us.