Almost 60 percent of women consider hair loss to be the most dreaded effect of chemotherapy, according to a recent study. Hair is used as a means of expression and to define ones self image.

Women can be shattered at the loss of their hair and eight percent would consider skipping treatment of a deadly disease rather than loose their hair according to the Pantene Beautiful Lengths Website. 

The program takes human hair and makes wigs for women with cancer. Another, better known organization, ‘Locks of Love’ uses human hair to make wigs for children who have experienced hair loss for medical reasons such as alopecia, cancer or some other disease.

Almost two years ago, a pair of women that did not know each other, made the same decision. They decided to let their hair grow long enough to be donated. 

Amanda Adams was a graphic designer for the Beaumont Enterprise, while Penny LeLeux worked at The Record Newspapers. Adams joined the staff of The Record last year. 

In a casual conversation a few months later they discovered their mutual goal.

“My hair began growing like wildfire when I was pregnant with my twin sons,” said Adams. “I was never fond of long hair but, I discovered the beautiful act of donating a ponytail to make wigs for people in need.” This would be the second time she had donated her tresses.

LeLeux had wanted to give her hair away in 2006, but found they would not take colored hair. “I wanted to donate it in honor of my sister, Joy, who died from inflammatory breast cancer in 2004. She always had such long, beautiful, black hair,” said LeLeux.

“Loosing her hair was one of the things she hated, ‘I’m going to die fat and bald,’ she would say.” Some of the medications she was on also made her gain weight.

Last Thursday was the day the two had waited for. With the Christmas season upon them, they felt it was the ideal time to present the gift that could mean more than anything money could buy to some unfortunate woman. Plus, it gave the women an opportunity to have brand new looks for the holidays.

“I am so ready,” said Adams. “I had always felt this desire to donate to charities but, being a single mother did not leave me with very much time or very much money.” With the Pantene program, she found a way. “All I had to do was wait and let my hair grow.” 

LeLeux agreed it was time, remarking her hair got caught every time she put her camera and laptop bag on her shoulder and had to continually be pulled out.

Meeting at All About U Salon in West Orange last week, armed with rubber bands, hair magazines and cameras, the two women put themselves in the capable hands of stylists Cindy Gunn and Amanda Brodnax.

After brief discussions on hair styles, LeLeux’s hair was banded and snipped off first as Adams took pictures. The procedure was then reversed. Eleven and 12 1/2 inches were lopped off respectively.
After highlights and styling, Adams kept swinging her head from side to side, remarking how much lighter her head felt. She was so excited with her new “do,” she wanted to show it off. “Now I know how good it feels to pay it forward; to pass along the precious gift of renewed self-esteem.”

For LeLeux, it went even deeper, “Today is Joy’s birthday, how appropriate.”

Both women were completely happy with their “Holiday Hairdos” and want to thank Gunn and Brodnax for excellent jobs. Adams and LeLeux have great new looks for a new year and took a major step forward in rebuilding the self-esteem of a woman they will never meet.

“It is a present that I can give of myself – from one person to another and that is a feeling that very few other things can replace,” said Adams. 

It takes at least six pony tails to complete a wig. For the Pantene program, hair must be at least eight inches long. Locks of Love requires a minimum of 10 inches.
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