February 4 is World Cancer Day, and The Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation’s #NoHairSelfie digital fundraising campaign trended on social media in an effort to show support for patients worldwide who are undergoing cancer treatment. Thousands of people joined the movement by actually shaving their heads, or virtually “shaving” with the free app, and posting their selfie on social media using the #NoHairSelfie hashtag.
“The response to the #NoHairSelfie has gone beyond our expectations; from downloads of the app, to the number of participants, to the amount of money pledged, and with the ultimate goal of raising funds for critical cancer research,” says Paul Alofs, President and CEO, The PMCF.
“The phrase of the day is: ‘shave, share and donate’,” says Alofs.
Early highlights of the campaign included:
- More than 50,000 downloads of the #NoHairSelfie app
- Named best new app by Apple
- Close to 15,000 #NoHairSelfies already posted in the online gallery
- Top fundraisers Canadian philanthropist Gary Slaight and Vice Chair of Deloitte Harley Mintz, have together raised over $1million
- Volunteer barbers include both Toronto Mayor John Tory and The Wealthy Barber David Chilton
- Hair-ticipants include: Ray Civello, Founder of Civello Salon and President of Aveda Canada, Castro Liu, Councillor, Ward 3, Richmond Hill, 12-year old Scarborough-native Jamie Anderson, and participants from all across Canada, the United States, and Mongolia
The #NoHairSelfie campaign has been well-received and supported by the South Asian community. Among the participants, Madura Siva, who has luscious long hair, chose to go for an actual shave to support the movement. When asked why she was participating in the campaign she said, “I’m shaving my head so that I can send an important message to society, and more importantly to my two-year-old daughter that the definition of beauty should not revolve around physical beauty such as hair, but should more importantly focus on values of empathy, compassion, and generosity. I’m fundraising for cancer research in hopes that cancer patients can continue to enjoy their simple pleasures and live full and meaningful lives. I’d like to dedicate this shave to all the loving patients I have shared wonderful memories with.”
She goes on to state, “There is a strong association between hair and beauty in the South Asian community. Negative stigmas surrounding diseases such as cancer and its associated hair loss prevent members of the South Asian community from speaking openly and publicly about their diagnosis. This is mainly due to the fear of public dishonor and humiliation. Failing to speak about the disease can be a serious crutch that prevents early detection and access to crucial resources such as dietary information and psychosocial resources, that can help patients manage and fight their cancer. We need to break out of our shells and start talking more about cancer and its implications in our lives. Let’s work together to raise awareness in the community.”
Many of the participants – or ‘hair-ticipants’ – in the #NoHairSelfie campaign endured their own cancer journey or have gone through it with a loved one; this fundraiser gave people the opportunity to demonstrate their support for the thousands of Canadians undergoing cancer treatment, many of whom lose their hair as a side effect of treatment.
Dawn Murphy, a cancer survivor who has raised more than $8,000, saw first-hand how people wanted to support her both during her treatment and current fundraising efforts. “One of the most visible and devastating side effects of my cancer treatment was the loss of my hair,” she said. “The #NoHairSelfie campaign gave my friends, family and colleagues the opportunity to show their solidarity for those of us still on our treatment journey or in remission.”
More than 40% of all Canadians will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime, and 1 in 4 is expected to die from the disease.
The #NoHairSelfie campaign brings together cancer patients, survivors and those who love them for one common goal: to Conquer Cancer In Our Lifetime.
For more information, visit www.NoHairSelfie.com