One evening, my father made me read a thought-provoking real-life story that he read earlier in the day. It was a heart-touching story and since that day my perception of life underwent a sea-change. Here’s a summary of the story I read that day. Sinduja, a young girl, was forcibly having to eat curd rice which she detested. Her father rushed to feed his daughter. She asked her father to give her a promise in return for eating the curd rice. Her father made the promise to give her whatever she wants as long as it’s not expensive. Sinduja ate her food and asked her dad if she could shave her head as he had promised he would fulfil her wish. Sinduja's mother and grandmother were very livid with her request. In the end, they gave in and allowed Sinduja to shave her head. On Monday morning, when her father was dropping off his daughter at school, he saw another boy join her and he too had a hairless head. Her father thought to himself that maybe having a clean-shaved head was the ‘in’ stuff these days. A woman walked towards Sinduja’s father and said that his daughter Sinduja was great indeed. She was the mother of Harish who was walking with Sinduja. Harish was suffering from leukaemia. Harish could not attend school for the whole of the last month. He lost all his hair due to the side effects of the chemotherapy. He refused to come back to school fearing the unintentional but cruel teasing of the schoolmates. Sinduja had visited Harish last week and promised him that she will take care of the teasing issue. But, Harish’s mother never imagined that Sinduja would sacrifice her lovely hair for the sake of Harish! Sinduja’s parents were blessed to have such a daughter. Her father stood transfixed with tears that his little Angel had taught him how selfless real love is! The happiest people on this planet are not those who live on their terms but are those who change their terms for others. I spent that evening understanding from my parents and researching on the internet about cancer. On doing research, I got to know that Cancer is the second leading cause of death around the world. In 2018, an estimated 9.5 million people died of cancer worldwide. That’s about 26,000 people each day and 1 out of every 6 deaths is due to cancer. That day, I realised that cancer is such a dreadful disease and in India too, the incidence of cancer is increasing rapidly; therefore, it is important to step up cancer literacy and knowledge amongst the population. On doing research, what I found out was that some cancers can be found early before they have had a chance to grow and spread. Early detection, screening, and diagnosis have been proven to significantly improve patient survival rates and quality of life, as well as to significantly reduce the cost and complexity of cancer treatment. At that moment, I felt the need to create awareness about cancer, its prevention and the need to donate hair to create wigs for cancer patients. I would visit my grandmother’s house during summer vacations every year for a couple of days. In my granny’s society, I befriended their next-door neighbour’s children, Dhiraj and Diya. Dhiraj & Diya were siblings, aged 10 and 5 years respectively. We would often play together. This became a routine every summer vacation. One such summer vacation, I reached out to Dhiraj & Diya, but their helper at home informed me that they were not at home. On enquiring with my granny, she told me that Diya had been diagnosed with first stage cancer and is recuperating at the hospital. A few days later, I saw Diya with a hairless head and with a beautiful pink hairband laced with a butterfly on it. Diya looked a little pale. She gave me a faint smile and walked away with her parents. A few months later, I was informed by my granny that Diya was not attending her school as she was unable to go to school without hair and all the teasing that she would have to go through. She was home-schooled that year by her parents and this troubled me a lot. I thought that there may be many such children/people facing the same problem. For cancer patients, hair loss is one of the most stressful & traumatic side effects of chemotherapy and radiation treatment. This effect on their appearance can be a further setback to patients who are already enduring physical and emotional hardship. I put a great amount of thought into this real-world problem of ‘Hair loss by Cancer Patients’ as a result of the side effect of their chemotherapy and radiation treatment and finally found a Solution to create an App to resolve this problem. And that is how it sparked an idea in me to create an App ‘Donate Hair - For Cancer Care’. My App ‘Donate Hair – For Cancer Care’ has a two-fold objective. Firstly, it is a go-to app for all information about hair donation for making wigs for cancer patients. Secondly, it aims at creating awareness about cancer and provides cancer prevention tips.
My App ‘Donate Hair – For Cancer Care’ is a go-to app for all queries related to hair donation for making wigs for cancer patients such as where/how to donate hair, its requirements, etc. This App will help the users to find the ideal NGO helping cancer patients near their area and donate their hair to them. The App will also spread awareness about cancer which will lead to early detection which is important in the management and treatment of cancer. The App will also provide tips to prevent cancer by making necessary lifestyle changes. Unlike most Apps that seek donation in monetary aid for cancer patients, my App is a non-monetary way of donation. It is both - easy and rewarding. Through hair donation, you not only give a part of yourself (literally) but do something that can help someone living with cancer today. It is a kind, generous and satisfying way for those who want to ‘give back’ to society to show that they care. Listed below are the features of the App :
- Welcome Screen: When a new user downloads the App, the Welcome Screen appears. The App User is provided with an option to Login with his email and password and then taken to the Home Screen.
- Register Screen: In the case of a New User, he/she is prompted to Register first by clicking on the ‘Not a Member? Register here’ button. Once the user registers on the App, he is taken to the Home Screen.
- Home Screen: The Home Screen highlights the numerous Benefits of Hair Donation to encourage the App users to ‘give back’ to society to show that they care.
- Donate Hair Screen: This is a “free donation app” implying that you don’t have to send actual money to a charity. The App provides the user with a Form to Donate Hair and enter a few details such as –Name, Length of hair, etc. and click the “Donate Hair” button. The App User may refer to the Hair Donation Requirement Screen for queries on hair donation.
- Hair Donation Requirement Screen: This Screen provides the App User with all the requisite information on the Steps to be followed for Hair donation by choosing their city in the dropdown menu. Currently, in the App, four metro city options have been added in the dropdown menu, out of which a sample NGO list along with its requirements has been added for Mumbai city only.
- Pledge Screen: The Pledge Screen consists of a Pledge Form which allows the App User to take the pledge of donating his/her hair at a later date, once it is of the rquired minimum length. The App User can pledge by choosing any one of the three options provided to them and then click on the ‘Accept Pledge’ button. By clicking on the ‘Accept Pledge’ button the App User is taken to the ‘Share the Pledge’ Screen.
- Notification /Alert: Once the App User clicks on the ‘Accept Pledge’ button to pledge his hair at a future date on the App, the App will provide a Notification/Follow up alert at regular intervals (say fortnightly/monthly) to encourage the App User to stay dedicated and honour his/her pledge and stay motivated throughout the journey. This Notification/Alert feature has not been currently activated in the App yet.
- ‘Share the Pledge’ Screen: This Screen allows the App User to forward/share the Pledge by clicking on the “Share Pledge Now” button with his family, friends, etc to inform them about his/her pledge to donate his/her hair through the App– ‘Donate Hair - For Cancer Care’ and motivate them to do the same and lend their support to this noble cause and join the chain. The ‘Share the Pledge’ Feature is one of the UNIQUE features of my App which aims to encourage hair donation and create awareness about cancer.
- ‘Donate Your Quarantine Hair’ Online Campaign Screen – During quarantine, our hair has grown insanely long. This prompted me with an idea to promote an Online Campaign across schools, colleges, salons, corporates, etc. so that one can donate their quarantine hair which may be already the minimum length required for hair donation. This is ANOTHER UNIQUE FEATURE: of my App which will not only motivate hair donation but also create awareness about cancer.
- I WOULD SEEK SPONSORSHIP- To promote my Campaign ‘Donate Your Quarantine Hair’, I would also like to take my proposal to any Cancer drug manufacturer/Hair Salons/Insurance companies/etc. to come forward and donate a prescribed amount (say Rs. 10/- or any amount they may deem fit) for each hair donation through the App- ‘Donate Hair – For Cancer Care’. They can help in this cause by supporting me in promoting this ‘Hair Donation - For Cancer Care’ as a part of their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) obligations. This will boost the Campaign and provide financial support to the NGOs.
- Cancer Prevention Tips Screen: The Cancer Prevention Tips Screen provides tips to prevent cancer by making necessary lifestyle changes.
- About Us Screen: This Screen provides information about the App and the objective it seeks to achieve.
- ‘Tab Navigator’ Feature in the App – One can navigate screens easily by clicking on the Tab Navigators at the bottom of the App Screen.
- Additional Feature to be provided in the App: In future, I would like to provide a separate Login to NGO’s/Wig Manufactures, etc so that they can update their information whenever required. The NGOs may also update photos of the wigs that have been created out of the donated hair and update Testimonials of donees who have received hair wigs made from donated hair. This will help the App Users to be updated regularly, plus track the good that their hair donation is doing.
- Code of Ethics – To ensure compliance, I will obtain Certifications from the NGO’s who will receive the donated hair from the App Users of ‘Donate Hair- for Cancer Care that they confirm to abide by the Code of Ethics and not use donated hair for commercial purposes. SIGN OFF: During the creation of my App journey, I often pondered whether my App – ‘Donate Hair- for Cancer Care’ will achieve its objective of encouraging hair donation and create awareness about cancer? That’s when this quote by John F. Kennedy always sprung me back into action - “Every accomplishment starts with the decision to try.”