Observed on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving (in the U.S.) and these two popular shopping days, #GivingTuesday kicks off the charitable season, of holiday and end-of-year giving.
“It is a is a global day of giving fueled by the power of social media and collaboration.”
Since its start in 2012, #GivingTuesday celebrates and supports giving and philanthropy with events throughout the year and a growing catalog of resources.
My goal for this blog is to inform and inspire us all to explore the HEART of health in our lives, and the lives of our families and communities. But beyond that, my the mission for this blog is
to share the HEART of health with people all over the world,
especially those who face hardship due to poverty, isolation, discrimination, political turmoil, hunger, homelessness, human rights violations, and natural disasters.
So for Giving Tuesday I’m asking you to give to one or more of the groups I have featured on this blog and that this blog is committed to support. The links below take you to stories about their mission and links to their sites where you can
I recently enjoyed reading a novel by Jodi Picoult My Sister’s Keeper ,which touched on several medical themes including cancer, genetic engineering, organ donation ethics, and medical autonomy.
The story is about Kate, an adolescent who as a toddler developed a rare form of leukemia, and has spent the majority of her life either in the hospital getting treatment or recovering from them. After yet another chemotherapy regimen, she has lost her hair.
One day her mother, Sara, offers to take Kate and her younger sister Anna to the mall for a day out. Kate refuses.
“Don’t say it. Don’t tell me that nobody’s going to stare at me, because they will. Don’t tell me it doesn’t matter because it does. And don’t tell me I look fine because that’s a lie.” Her eyes, lash-bare, fill with tears. “I’m a freak, Mom. Look at me.”
Sara looks at her and says, “Well, we can fix this.”
“She walks out of the room followed by Kate and Anna. She finds a pair of ancient electric grooming clippers, plugs them in, and cuts a swath right down the middle of her own scalp.
“Mom”, Kate gasps.
With another swipe of the razor, Kate starts to smile. She points out a spot Sara missed. Anna crawls onto Sara’s lap. “Me next,” she begs.”
As Sara later remembers:
“An hour later, we walk through the mall holding hands, a trio of bald girls. We stay for hours. Everywhere we go, heads turn and voices whisper. We are beautiful, times three.”
Alopecia- hair loss
You’ve known people who lost their hair due to cancer chemotherapy-you may even be that person. The medical term is anagen effluvium, which means hair loss during the anagen, or active phase of hair growth. 65% of people who receive chemotherapy will lose their hair.
Fortunately, anagen effluvium is reversible; the hair usually grows back in 1-6 months. While waiting, sometimes women wear wigs, while others wear colorful scarves and turbans on their heads. And some simply do as Kate, her mother and sister did- show their heads proudly.
Stress and hair loss
Telogen effluvium is similar, except this hair loss occurs during the telogen or resting phase. It is not a myth that stress can cause hair loss. Any type of physical, mental, or emotional stress can cause hair to fall out. Probably the most common stress that precipitates this is pregnancy. Others include
disorders of the thyroid, kidneys, or liver,
iron or zinc deficiency.
This hair loss is also reversible with the hair usually growing back within 2-6 months after the condition resolves or is treated.
Genes and gender
The most common type of hair loss in both men and women is considered a “normal physiologic variant”- that being androgenetic alopecia. It tends to run in families, hence the “genetic” connotation. As many as 50% of men and 30%-40% of women may experience hair loss with increasing age.
There are two forms. (click on the links to see an illustration.)