Cancer Hair Care
“Those grants in the early days helped us set up the organisation and pay for the basics, like room hire for us to gather a room of women who were having cancer treatment to offer our service... I’ve always felt that HCF is the one organisation who’ve got my back”
Jasmin Julia Gupta, Cancer Hair Care
Jasmin Julia Gupta is the founder and driving force behind Cancer Hair Care, a charity which helps people of all ages affected by hair loss. She describes her work as “50% knowing your stuff about hair loss and 50% listening, being there for people, caring.”
“We have four clinics that we run in NHS hospitals and we go into children’s units, to run sessions for children, teenagers and young people. We have a phone support line, we send out thousands of advice booklets a year, and we have a studio where we can do face to face consultations. So we’re busy!”
Jasmin explains the trauma of hair loss, explaining that it takes away “someone’s individuality and dignity.”
Cancer Hair Care has received several grants through Hertfordshire Community Foundation since its early days. The first grant came before it made the move to becoming a registered charity and helped with the very basic costs of setting up and getting started. The next grant in 2014 helped the team learn how to do what they call “bedside visits” in hospitals.
Jasmin describes their work with one fourteen-year-old girl from Hertfordshire who’d been in hospital for almost two years and was nearing the end of her treatment.
“She wanted to go back to school but she wouldn’t have a reasonable amount of hair for about 8 months. She didn’t get on with a wig, it just wasn’t for her. So I went in and handmade her a fake fringe and taught her to fix it into any headscarf she chooses. I spent an hour with her, teaching her to put it on and take it off and tie it herself so that she would feel ready to go back to school.”
The girl’s mother contacted Jasmin afterwards and said that after the visit, she’d seen her friends for the first time in a long time, and then had felt ready to go back to school. Jasmin says “the biggest thing was that she didn’t want to walk into her new school with cancer as her story. She wanted to be a regular teenager, and this fringe, headscarf, and ability to put it on herself, gave her that. That’s huge.”