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Short hair for a good cause

Roxanna Thompson
Northern News Services

Fort Simpson (Nov 03/06) - Laurent Isiah's hair is about to go on an adventure, without him.

The 12-year-old Fort Simpson youth cut his hair and is donating it to become part of a wig for a person living with cancer.

Isiah got the idea to donate his hair from his mother Hazel Isiah, but the decision to cut off his distinctive ponytail was all his.

NNSL Photo/graphic

Without the weight of his 16 inch ponytail Laurent Isiah is holding his head higher. - Roxanna Thompson/NNSL photo

Before cutting the hair Hazel explained how people with long hair can donate it. On the Canadian Cancer Society website she found an address for a company in Calgary that makes wigs.

"He was quite excited when he found out he could donate his hair for cancer," she said.

"I wanted to have a break," Laurent said of his long locks.

He started growing his hair about three years ago when he was nine.

He had always had short hair but because he liked long hair he decided to let his grow. The original plan was to allow it to grow for a long time, he said.

Having long hair turned out to be a bit tricky.

After moving through the awkward stage when his hair wasn't long enough to tie back Laurent ran into the problem of tangles.

It took a lot of brushing, he said. There was also a few times when he got gum or playdough stuck in his hair and had to cut it out.

Two weeks ago Laurent decided his long hair days were over. Making the decision was the easy part. Convincing his mom it was the right thing to do was harder.

"She thought it was a very scary decision," said Laurent.

Hazel admits that it took her about a week to get used to the idea.

"I kept asking him if he was sure," she said.

The big cut came on Oct. 25. Hazel gave him one last chance to back out before starting her countdown at three and cutting the braid off above the elastic before reaching the number one.

"I couldn't believe it was gone," Laurent said.

Without his 16 inch ponytail, Laurent said his head feels a lot lighter and a bit funny. It's strange not to feel a ponytail against the back of the neck, he said.

"Sometimes I think it's still there"

Laurent feels good about his decision to donate his hair to help make wigs for people living with cancer.

Donating hair is one of the most popular things that people do to give something towards cancer, said Lorie Boychuk, a public affairs specialist with the Canadian Cancer Society.

Hair loss is a common side effect of chemotherapy and the society receives lots of calls from people wanting information on how to donate hair, Boychuk said.

"We find it absolutely commendable that people do that," she said."I'm sure it means the world to them," she added about the people who receive wigs. It takes approximately 12 hair donations to make one wig, said Boychuk. That means more of Laurent's hair might find its way into wigs in the future. Sporting his half inch buzz cut Laurent is already thinking ahead to his next hair style.

"I think I'm going to regrow it," he said.