Youngster cuts it short to fund Cancer Society

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The deadly disease spares neither bigwigs nor the ordinary

Shirish Paranjape
Christchurch, July 4, 2020

Trisha Shailaj

When Trisha Shailaj looked at the mirror and admired her long, 16” hair, she was proud of her achievement- she had grown her hair long, only to give it away for a good cause.

But the ‘sacrifice’ did not come about without some last-minute vacillation and hesitation.

The Year-11 student at Avonside Girls High School (Christchurch) had heard of people suffering from cancer and the effect it has on their scalp.

Tonsure for Cancer Relief

About a year ago, she learnt that a girl studying in her school had shaved off her hair to raise funds for the Cancer Society.

Trisha then learnt that every four hours, a New Zealander is diagnosed with a blood cancer such as leukaemia, lymphoma, myeloma or a related blood condition and that every day, the Cancer Society and Leukaemia and Blood Cancer New Zealand have more than 40 interactions with patients and health professionals.

“I thought of doing so to help people who are less fortunate,” she said.

Shirish Paranjape

Research and realisation

Trisha began to find out more about ‘Shave for Cure,’ and similar projects through which people shave off their head and also raise funds for charities and for Cancer research and treatment.

“I realised that I could cut my hair, instead of shaving it off completely. I learnt that the shredded hair is used to make wigs for cancer patients. I told myself that I can donate my hair and can always grow it again.”

She was told that Freedom Hair (Freedom Wings), a Dunedin based company purchases hair from the public, works with charities, individuals and hair procurement agents in New Zealand and around the world to ensure that they have the hair suitable for the diverse needs of clients.

“Freedom needs a minimum length of 14 inches. They make wigs for Cancer Society. I therefore decided to grow my hair to 15-16 inches,” Trisha said.

It took her six months to grow her hair long. It took effort and of course care.

Questions and hesitation

When it was time to donate, she became a bundle of emotions- which included anxiety, uncertainty and even fear.

“Should I do this? I always wanted long hair and it has taken so long and so much to achieve. Isn’t there another way to help people in need?” These were among the questions that began to circulate in her mind.

However, the objective with which she started the self-assigned project, kept her will strong.

When hesitation was trying to get the better of her, Trisha’s parents encouraged her to go ahead with the donation.

“Afterall, you can always grow it again,” they reminded her.

Thereafter,  there was no further hesitation.

Trisha was gratified when Freedom Hair sent her an email thanking her for the donation, saying that there should be more people like her.

Positive change

“I encourage others to do this, or anything similar. It does not matter what others think. If you want to make a positive change for other people in the world, just do it. Consider it as good fun. It is important to do good Karma and spread positivity. The hair grows very fast and I can donate again,” Trisha said.

She has worked with her father to raise funds, through ‘Friends of Rotary’ for the benefit of Multiple Sclerosis & Parkinson’s Canterbury and other charities.

Trisha is a proficient swimmer but her current proclivities are in Netball and plays for her School Team. Her wish list includes skydiving and bungee-jumping.

Shirish Paranjape is our Correspondent based in Christchurch.


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