Over the last few days I have seen a number of negative remarks on the campaign by a charity, inviting supporters to shave their heads, Having worked with melanoma patients for the last twelve years, I have noticed that with the latest treatments, many patients don't actually lose their hair and often, they are faced with remarks about how well they look. One patient told me recently that a work colleague said to him "You're alright aren't you mate, you've not lost your hair, not had that much time off work, you're quite lucky aren't you?"

Not being a cancer patient myself, I have asked a number of people how they feel about this campaign.  I haven’t spoken to anyone who  has had anything positive to say about it.  One young girl told me, “If people could have seen my mum after her treatment, horrendous rashes, fevers that couldn’t be controlled, muscular pain that no pain killer would touch, vomiting, and they were just a few of the side effects of her therapy:  they’d realise that losing her hair might have been the least of her worries”.  

Men, if your best friend is diagnosed with testicular cancer, would you offer to go and have one of yours lopped off?  Show a bit of support?  No, of course you wouldn’t, it’s a ludicrous suggestion.  Same with us girls, one of my dearest friends has triple negative breast cancer, it would never have entered my head to go and get one of mine removed as a show of support. 

To me, it is almost trivialising an extremely difficult situation for many, getting together for a ‘brave the shave party’ – it is a gimmick, (a good fundraiser, granted – which let’s face it, that’s what this is all about) but it leaves me (and from what I can see, many others) quite uncomfortable.  The struggle that a cancer patient goes through (including the loss of hair in some patients on certain treatments) is horrendous, and I’m sure that if they had the choice, they would far rather keep their hair, so to have someone chopping theirs off seems quite crass.

All charities rely on fundraisers to support their work, and this charity, like many organisations, does some great work, I know that.  But,  being hands on with patients, speaking to many of them about their disease, their hopes, their fears, I have to think of other ways to ask for support.  Asking supporters to shave their heads, will never be one of them.