Cancer Society: Show you care, donate some hair

Hair model Katherine Alfonzo. The Cancer Society is asking for hair donations to make wigs for cancer patients who suffer from hair loss. File photo/Roger Jacob
Hair model Katherine Alfonzo. The Cancer Society is asking for hair donations to make wigs for cancer patients who suffer from hair loss. File photo/Roger Jacob

The Trinidad and Tobago Cancer Society (TTCS) has been providing support and services to cancer patients and their families for over 50 years. From building awareness, to screening and physical, emotional and psychological support, the society has made good on its mission: "To create and promote greater awareness of the need for early detection and preventative measures and to reduce the incidence of cancer through education, service and advocacy."

TTCS chairwoman Dr Asante Le Blanc told Sunday Newsday the society recently launched another support programme – Show You Care...Donate Some Hair – an initiative through which people can donate hair to be made into wigs for women and girls who have lost their hair due to cancer and other hair-loss conditions.

She said because the TTCS is committed to and always looking for ways to make the lives of those battling the disease as comfortable as possible, it has to find as many different angles as possible to try to fulfil its mandate.

"This aspect is interesting and is also very important, and it's something that we don’t always think about," she said, because there are so many reasonably-priced synthetic wigs available on the market. But the hair-donation programme will allow some cancer patients access to human-hair wigs, which are very costly.

She said while hair donation in TT is not a new concept, the society is now playing a more active role in an initiative it had supported a few years ago when it assisted Precious Roots, a non-profit hair-donation foundation founded by Cyan Yee. The hair was collected from donors and shipped to Canada and the US, and made into wigs and donated to cancer patients.

Chairwoman of the TT Cancer Society Dr Asante Le Blanc. 

“Unfortunately the wigs stay in the States until I can find a way to bring them back to Trinidad,” Yee told Newsday in a 2019 interview.

Picking up from there, the TTCS recently formalised a partnership with the New York-based Butterflies By Blaq Incorporated, an NGO founded in 2012 which provides free hair replacements and hair-loss solutions to children and teenagers who need them.

"This allows us to take our cause to a global level and to partner with an organisation that is a lot more structured. Every quarter, we send whatever we have collected to our partner in New York, they create wigs, and the TTCS will get back a percentage to distribute to the local community.

"We don’t know what the demand for wigs in TT is right now, because the programme was semi-dormant. Because this programme is so new, we want the patients to reach out to us if they can’t afford a wig, and they will be placed on the waiting list.

"The only qualification is being a cancer survivor... The society wants to demonstrate that we are open to suggestions on how we can really help.

"This is just another way for us to support and slowly but surely help with each aspect of this journey called cancer."

But, she said, because the programme was founded on the premise on producing wigs for people who need them, not just cancer patients, but other people with hair-loss conditions such as alopecia will be able to access wigs once they are available.

Le Blanc said the programme was launched a few weeks ago and people have already started dropping off donations.

"I think it is important for people to understand that we are also trying to approach it from a cultural angle, so we welcome all types of hair...

"Once people recognise that this is a solid programme, they will make the sacrifice to grow their hair as a way of giving back, because a lot of people have been touched by cancer, directly or indirectly."

And, she said, the call is not only going out to women. Men too can do their part in making a donation to this worthy cause.

"This is all about us being able to give it back. This is not a one-time promotion, it is an ongoing element of the society."

Donation guidelines:

The hair should be clean and thoroughly dried.

It should be at least 12 inches long. Curly hair must be pulled straight to measure the minimum length.

It should not be chemically treated or coloured..

Before it is cut it must be in a ponytail or braided

Hair that has been cut years ago is acceptable, as long as it is clean and in a ponytail or braided.

Each donation is to be placed in a press-and-seal plastic bag, put in an envelope and dropped off at the TTCS Projects Department, Highway Plaza, Freeport, along with $100 administrative fee. Le Blanc explained: "It's just a small contribution fee to help with shipping the hair to the US and for our partner to ship the wigs back."

For more information on the hair donation programme, visit or follow the TTCS on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter


"Cancer Society: Show you care, donate some hair"

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