A woman’s hair is an important characteristic and the focus of hours of regular, careful attention. To choose to cut it all off is one thing- to lose it to chemotherapy is another.

Lise van Breda grew her hair for her wedding day, and shortly afterwards decided to cut it and donate it to the Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA). It was not an act of bravery, but it was symbolic. ‘It means that one phase of my life was over, and marriage meant entering a new one. I also knew my hair would grow again’.

Lise believes in giving. ‘I donate blood every month. I am a cell donor and on the list for bone marrow donation for leukaemia. I still need to 10 become an organ donor. As long as I have a healthy lifestyle and can give something to someone who needs it, I will. I have good, strong hair, so why not give that?’

‘I found instructions on the CANSA website on how to go about donating, she says. I thought you could not donate your hair if you colour it, but I discovered that CANSA accepts it’.

Lise hopes to encourage other women to donate their hair and help others. It is easy and non-threatening, so more people should be doing it.

According to statistics, 115000 South Africans are diagnosed with cancer yearly, with breast cancer being the leading cancer in women.

CANSA runs awareness and fundraising campaigns. During the annual Shavaton people can donate their hair or pay to have it sprayed. The Shavatons take place at shopping centres around the country. ‘People phone us to say they are growing their hair for us’, says Lucy, head of marketing and communication at CANSA.

We just cut the ponytail then go to a hairdresser for a new hairstyle. They donate their hair because they want to show support and unity with cancer patients and survivors. ‘It is a powerful, and fascinating gift’.

Those who cut their hair at a salon, must tie it in a ponytail that is 25 cm or longer because length is lost when making a wig. It must be sealed in a 30 zip-lock bag and taken to a CANSA Care Centre. The hair is sent off to the wigmakers in batches of 300 g. it takes about ten ponytails to make a complete wig.

Rani Chetty of Tymeless Necessity Hair, wig-making company, has partnered with CANSA. She says the hair is cleaned to remove any 35 chemicals, then strands are sewn together, using a wefting machine. Wefting enough hair for a wig takes about five days. After that, the ‘rows’ of hair are sewn into the wig cap by hand.

A cancer patient can donate their hair, for the outer layer, so that their own hair falls around their face. The head shrinks when people undergo chemotherapy, so wigs have flexible bands. If patients cannot afford a wig, they can choose one at a CANSA Care Centre.

Cancer survivor Mrs Steyn, who was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer, began losing her hair after three chemotherapy sessions. She cut it all off as she did not bald spots on her head. ‘After losing my hair I realised how much it meant to me. I had low self-esteem because I was losing my hair’.

Getting a wig for free at CANSA and having hair has restored her confidence. ‘Many women having chemotherapy struggle with loss of hair but cannot afford wigs. I am grateful to women who donate their because they make us beautiful and feel better about ourselves’.

[ Adapted from Fair Lady, October 2019]

How do you know that women’s hair is important to them? (2)
Explain the difference between cutting your hair off and losing it to chemotherapy. (2)
Using your OWN words, explain what the writer means by ‘one phase of my life was over’ (line7). (2)
Refer to paragraph 3.
Name ONE way in which Lise gives back to others. (2)
Which word means the same as ‘not causing fear or worry’? (2)
Why has the writer included statistics? State TWO points. (2)
Quote FOUR consecutive words which show that women are mostly diagnosed with cancer. (2)

Name TWO reasons why Shavatons are held. (2)
Explain what happens to the hair once it is cut at a salon. (2)
How does the length of the donated hair affect the making of a wig? (2) Explain why it is important for CANSA to work with someone like Rani Chetty. (2)
Why is it a good idea to allow cancer patients to donate their own hair? (2)
How has losing her hair affected Mrs Steyn emotionally? (2)
Using your OWN words, discuss whether you think that donating one’s hair is ‘a powerful, fascinating gift’. (2)
Discuss the suitability of the tittle, ‘FROM MY HEAD TO YOURS!’ (2) [30]


Answer all questions
2.1 No longer at ease appears to suggest that love is not a weapon that can defend two individuals against disapproval, social stigma, or cultural customs. Love fails to be stronger than cultural and familial expectations. In a well- constructed essay of about 2 pages, critically discuss the extent to which you agree or disagree with the above statement.
Introduction (5marks) Discussion (10 marks)
Conclusion (5 marks) [20]

Answers on Above Questions

Women are highly conscious with respect to their overall looks and they spend enough time to look beautiful. As a part of their self grooming, they give significant attention towards their hair as well. Women’s hair is highly important for them because it is an important part of their self expression, and one of the most visible aspects of a person’s appearance. They can utilise their hair in order to portray their individuality, personality and sense of style.


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