The curls of compassion

Before: Dhania Schulz and Natalie Gelderblom.

You may not realise how important your hair is to your self-image until you face losing it. If you have cancer and are about to undergo chemotherapy, the chance of losing your hair is very real for both men and women.

Chemotherapy drugs are powerful medications that attack cancer cells. Unfortunately, they also attack other rapidly growing cells in your body – including those in your hair roots.

For cancer patients, losing their hair is very distressing. Catching a glimpse of themselves in a mirror, their changed appearance is a reminder of their illness and everything they’ve experienced since their diagnosis.

Maintaining a healthy body image after hair loss is challenging and depends a lot on the patient’s attitude and the support of their friends and family.

Purchasing a human hair wig is very expensive and completed wigs sell for about R2 000 each at retailers and hair dressers.

There are many people in our community who simply cannot afford this.

For this reason, Helderberg Hospice works in partnership with the Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA), appealing for ponytails in order to make sufficient real hair wigs for cancer survivors. Hair donations received are sent to a wig manufacturer of human hair.

The wig-making process can take between eight and 12 weeks, and the wig is then given at no cost to identified, registered patients.

Friends Natalie Gelderblom, from Reddam Somerset Lakes, and Dhania Schulz, from Somerset College, independently decided to donate their hair to support people battling cancer.

As they both had very long hair, they knew they would be able to meet the minimum length requirement.

Natalie’s namesake, had cancer and really benefited from being able to use a wig when she lost her hair as a result of chemotherapy.

Having seen what a difference it made to her, Natalie wanted to be able to give someone else the opportunity of having a wig during a difficult time.

Helderberg Hospice is very grateful for their beautiful donation, and appeals to everyone in the community who has long hair which they are considering cutting for summer, to donate their ponytail to them, and help make someone feel beautiful again.

The requirements for human hair donations are:

Ponytail donation that is 25cm or longer.

Hair should be clean and dry.

All hair whether dyed or treated is acceptable. Unfortunately dreadlocks cannot be used.

When cutting the hair, please bind both ends with an elastic band and place in a zip-lock bag.

Post or drop off your hair donation in a plastic bag with your name and contact details on it, to either Helderberg Hospice, at 21 Old Stellenbosch Road, Somerset West, or one of the Helderberg Hospice charity shops: 139A and B Main Road, Somerset West, or Panorama Building, Strand (opposite Pick * Pay).

For more information, call 021 852 4608, visit, or email