Despite currently suffering from breast cancer herself and being only part-way through her treatment, a Worcestershire woman has taken a proactive approach to help women suffering from cancer-related hair loss.
35-year-old Manuela Kemsies, from Droitwich Spa, was diagnosed with breast cancer in December 2010. She has only recently finished the first part of her treatment, but she has lost no time in launching a website to help other women deal with the hair loss they suffer during and after treatment.
Cancer is often associated with hair loss. However it is not the disease itself which causes the hair loss, it is the chemotherapy treatment used to fight cancer.
Headscarves for cancer patients
Manuela says on her website: “It was devastating to be diagnosed with cancer, the fear of going through chemotherapy treatments and the feeling of isolation. For me, the scariest prospect was that of losing my hair. I know from my own experience how distressing it is to lose your hair and how important a comfortable head cover is.”
The website offers a wide range of colourful and attractive head scarves, made and designed by Manuela, and she says that she intends to continue adding further designs to the selection. She has also recently taken part in a Race for Life charity run, where she raised over £2,800 for Cancer Research UK.
Why does chemotherapy cause hair loss?
Chemotherapy treatment is currently the most common and effective treatment for cancer. The chemotherapy drugs which the patient ingests into their body attack the cancerous cells, shrinking cancerous areas and stopping them from spreading.
Unfortunately the drugs to not discriminate between healthy and unhealthy cells. As a result, the hair follicles can come under attack, causing hair loss, amongst other side effects.
The hair loss is usually only temporary, and will eventually grow back after the chemotherapy treatment has ceased. However it can add to the distress of having cancer, and women in particular may be badly affected by the loss of their hair.
A comfortable and fashionable solution
On her website, Manuela goes on to say: “I have tried wigs, headscarves to tie and hats but nothing seemed comfortable and I felt very self conscious. I have designed a headscarf which combines an elasticated headband and scarf for my own use … I would like to offer these comfortable headscarves to people who suffer from hair loss and need a headscarf that feels secure and is fashionable.”
She hopes to supply the headscarves to people around the world, including chemotherapy patients and sufferers of the auto-immune hair loss condition Alopecia. Manuela also plans to donate a percentage of all her sales to Cancer Research UK.