More Than Just a Haircut!

By Risa Okayama, TLC Marketing Intern


Hello to Everyone! My name is Risa and I am from Japan. I was a student at TLC in 2015.
After studying with TLC for a few months, I went to the University of Central Oklahoma to study marketing. Recently, I graduated from UCO with my Bachelor’s in Business Administration. I am back at TLC for my OPT to get some more experience as a marketer!

Today, I would like to share a story about a decision to cut my hair. It’s not just about getting a haircut. It’s about people and showing support to those in need.

Do you know anyone who has cancer?

The decision to donate my hair was inspired by my favorite celebrity, Mao Kobayashi, who passed away almost a year ago because of breast cancer. That was very shocking to me because she was a successful, young woman and mother.  I could not stop crying on that day.

While she was fighting against cancer, she wrote blogs in order to share her cancer life. She inspired not only me, but also those who have a cancer.

On her blog, she wrote posts about what she would like to do with her kids after she was cured of cancer, what kinds of medications she had,  and how she spent her days living with cancer… etc

Reading her blog posts was very heartwarming and it showed me how precious life and family should be considered. It was very brave of her to be so transparent about her illness because this is not commonly discussed in my culture.

In addition, my Japanese friend who studied interior design in Canada had to go back to a county because she was diagnosed with cancer. This happened when she was only 20.

She and I were good friends when we were in Japan and we spent time together a lot.
I felt so sad and scared because she is my age and someone I know personally. It was a difficult reminder that life is short and it does not always go according to our plan.

My fear turned into determination when I realized how hard my friend has been fighting against cancer.  I started thinking…What can I do for cancer patients? How can I show my support?

I started to research after Mao’s untimely death. I found out that I could donate my hair to cancer patients in the U.S.A.

Here are some rules that I had to follow if I wanted to donate my hair:

  1. Must be at least 8 inches (20 centimeters)
  2. Not dyed
  3. Gray hair should be less than 5 % of your hair

Here is more detailed information about donating your hair from Pantene.

Fortunately, my hair was long enough to donate and I do not dye my hair.

Many of my friends told me that I should not cut my hair because it is difficult to grow hair that long. After all, My hair was past my waist! However, I had to instead think about how hard it is for cancer patients to grow hair.  Some of them cannot even grow hair back because of cancer treatments that they have, like chemotherapy.  So, I decided to donate, no matter what people told me.

And yes, I did donate 8.5 inches!


Your hair can encourage cancer patients.

Please consider donating your hair next time you get a haircut! It could bring hope to someone fighting cancer in your community! I hope my story inspired you!

For more information about Mao’s courageous and highly influential journey, visit BBC News.