Most people don’t think past their next brand of shampoo when it comes to their hair routine.
For 36-year-old Aisha Ali-Khan, from Keighley, her dramatic head of hair was not only a style statement but a means to ‘perform a good deed’ for somebody else.
The local women’s right campaigner committed to the chop in the name of charity on Thursday 10th November, donating several locks of her thick, black hair to cancer wig manufacturers, Soul Ryeders.
Speaking after the cut, she said: “All my friends and family are quite shocked because they didn’t think I’d go through with it.
“It’s a drastic change although I’ve obviously been thinking about doing it for a long time.”
As the hairdresser snipped her way through 12 inches of hair, Aisha says she was thinking of the importance of raising awareness of cancer in the Asian community.
“An aunty of mine was diagnosed with cancer and we didn’t know until a year later,” she said. “It was kept so quiet. People are ashamed and it is often seen as a ‘taboo subject’.
“Breast cancer and cervical cancer are the two most hazardous cancers that affect women and in our communities. The older generations especially think our symptoms will get just get better without medical intervention.”
In the past, Aisha spent a lot of time and effort on her hair and it was a big part of her appearance.
Today she says she is proud to be sporting a much shorter look.
“My hair was something that meant something to me but it’s more useful for someone else,” she added.
“When I was chickening out before I went through with the cut, I reminded myself that I was only worrying about losing my hair, when people with cancer had to worry about losing their lives.
“It put things into perspective. If I can use my experience to highlight this illness and the suffering of other people then I’m happy.”
A person undergoing chemotherapy for cancer will usually lose their hair, with many sufferers opting to wear a wig following treatment.
If that wig is made from human hair, it is thought to be even more natural looking and comfortable.
“I chose to send my hair to Sole Ryeders because they prepare the wig beforehand,” Aisha added.
“There’s always a wig for people to choose from. The moment from diagnosis to treatment may only be a few weeks, so the last thing patients are thinking about is the side effects of chemotherapy.
“Getting a real human wig made is very time consuming. By the time someone is diagnosed, they’ve already lost their hair and this charity has ready-made wigs to give out.”