Paramita Suja’s story is one of true friendship, sisterhood, love and loss. But her will to overcome her grief and turn it into a beautiful gesture year on year is moving thousands of netizens.
Speaking to Humans of Bombay, the young Mumbaikar narrates a heartfelt tale of how the loss of a dear friend to cancer moved her to donate her hair to trusts that make wigs for terminally-ill patients every year.
“We met in Grad school— she was from Hong Kong; our worlds were so different but it was one of those friendships where…
Paramita travels down memory lane recounting, “We met in Grad school— she was from Hong Kong; our worlds were so different but it was one of those friendships where we just clicked. She became more than just a friend— she was my sister; my family. I was in India for winter break when she broke the news to me— she had cancer. I flew down to be with her, hopeful that we would make it out of this.
She kept relapsing— she underwent rounds of chemo, grew extremely weak and lost her hair. I can’t explain that feeling— a few months ago, we were doing each other’s hair, getting ready to go out and now… I couldn’t bear it.
I chopped off my own hair and donated it to a foundation that makes wigs for cancer patients— when she saw me, she laughed and said, ‘You could’ve donated a little bit more!’ But at least she knew she wasn’t in it alone…ever.
She really tried, you know? She fought for 13 months but nothing was working.
One night, I was sitting next to her, holding her hand and I just knew…the end was near. Four days later, I woke up to a message— she was gone.
It broke my heart and gave me relief at the same time— she had suffered so much. I guess that’s what love is…even though it hurts you so much, you want whatever it is that makes the other person happy.
That day, I lived for her. I was grateful for my life, just how she would have wanted it. I went to work, I went to the gym, I spent time with my family and when that day was over…I cried. I cried until I couldn’t anymore and decided that it would be the last time…from then on, I would live for her and spread love from the both of us.
So I continue to live and laugh, but she’s always with me. I continue to donate my hair every year in her name, hoping that she’s looking down at me from up there, laughing at all my funky hairstyles!”
If Paramita’s story inspired you to grow your locks and donate them to make someone smile, here’s a list of NGOs you can get in touch with, who provide free wigs to cancer patients.
All you need to do is: Get a haircut. Tie the portion you want to donate at both ends with rubber bands. Wash and dry it, braid it, put it in a ziplock bag with your name, email address & mobile number and send it to any of the NGOs below. Make sure you read the guidelines for each of these trusts, since the hair length (in most cases approximately 7 to 12 inches ) differs.
Cope with cancer
“Donating hair for cancer patients is both easy and rewarding and anyone can do so,” says the team at Cope with Cancer, run by the Madat trust. It aims to inspire many individuals who cut, restyle, or shave off their hair for either styling or religious purposes to donate it their healthy hair for a noble cause to help someone in need and help them feel complete. Visit their website here.
A personal initiative by Goregaon-based hair-stylist, make-up artist and cosmetologist, Yatin Deshpande uses his own infrastructure and skilled staff without any monetary donations, to make these wigs. He donates them free of cost to economically weak cancer patients or other hair loss patients (alopecia) who fulfill the eligibility requirements. Visit Hair Aid’s website here to know more.
Hair for Happiness
Niharika Jadeja and Amatullah Vahanwala are dedicated to bringing smiles on the faces of children suffering from cancer. Hair for Happiness is a unique initiative to reclaim the lost self-esteem of children suffering from medically and critical illness caused hair loss. If you want to donate your hair, organise a drive or raise funds for the same, you can get in touch with them on Facebook here.
All you need is 7 inches of hair to donate so it can be turned into a wig. Read more here.
Hair for Hope India.
Hair for Hope India was started in 201 3 by Premi Mathew to create awareness about hair donation. A wig with natural hair is very expensive and is considered a luxury especially among cancer patients because chemotherapy is expensive and is usually required only for six months to a year. The trust collects donated hair from anywhere in the world and convert it into wigs and give it free to underprivileged chemo patients. Visit their Facebook page here to know more.
Many of the beneficiaries for these wigs are also young kids who apart from battling the life threatening ailment also fight serious body image issues. They lose confidence due to loss of hair at a young age and stop going to schools and colleges for the fear of looking ‘different’ or being bullied.
We hope Paramita’s story certainly inspires many more individuals to come forward and join the cause.
Hair is only hair, it will grow again after all. Are you willing to give somebody unending smiles and confidence with one simple contribution?
Because s‘HAIR’ing is caring, right?
Feature image credit: Humans of Bombay/Facebook
(Edited By Vinayak Hegde)