When you first hear the shocking diagnosis of cancer, you are suddenly thrust onto a path that you never planned for, with no time to pack your bags, having no idea of the end destination, and with twists and turns that you never could anticipate or prepare for. As a parent of a child diagnosed with cancer, I vividly remember all the worst moments of her year of treatment, but one of the most emotionally traumatic moments of all, was the day we shaved her head. There is nothing that so loudly and publicly screams to you “your child has cancer!” as seeing them with a bald head.
Many cancer patients find their hair loss similarly devastating. Almost all cultures around the world associate thick, plentiful hair with youth, beauty and vitality. Few people, especially females, choose to be bald. Just think of all the Disney princesses my five-year-old daughter loved at the time she lost her hair… all of them with long, thick, luscious locks.
At Big C Little Warrior, we offer free beauty treatments to cancer patients and their family members in Sheffield, Doncaster and the surrounding area. Continuing Laura’s legacy of care for others, we want to bring some fun, distraction, pampering and beautifying to people who are likely feeling poorly, low, bored, frustrated, and who may also be feeling anxious about their appearance, especially after hair loss. One of the beauty treatments we plan to offer is henna tattoos.
For thousands of years, a paste made from the henna plant has been used to create temporary tattoos, but much more recently this ancient art form has been given a modern twist in the form of ‘henna crowns’. The bald head is a blank canvas, on which unique and often intricate designs are applied, staining the skin for about two weeks. The idea is to give bald women the chance to feel beautiful again after hair loss, and the confidence to be a walking work of art – to turn the negative stares into positive ones! Rather than covering up with wigs or scarves, it’s a bold and assertive expression that bald is still beautiful!
Laura had to go through the trauma of hair loss twice. The first time, she did wear hats, scarves and wigs – she was willing to try anything that would give her confidence when leaving the house. But she felt that the scarves didn’t help her fit in, and the wigs felt itchy. Second time around, she usually opted for baseball caps with wig hair sewn into the back of them, made by her grandmother.
Away with her family at their caravan one weekend, Laura saw someone doing henna tatoos on
people’s hands, and asked if she could do her a henna crown. As soon as she said yes, Laura returned immediately to the caravan and asked her parents to shave off the rest of her thinning hair, so that she could receive the henna crown. Her dad, Mark, recalls: “it gave her so much confidence that she never really felt the need to wear anything on her head until the tattoo started to fade.”
Mark even joined in the fun himself, proving that henna crowns are not just for women!
Please note, the application of the henna crown does require the patient to sit still for a good while, depending on how simple or intricate the design is, so this will not be an appropriate service for younger children.