I went to see the hairdresser Trevor Sorbie give a talk about ‘My New Hair’ last night, at Central Library in Manchester, such a beautiful building.
Trevor was lovely, he gave a talk about his career to date, and about how he was moved by his sister-in-law going through breast cancer. He began then to see what cancer patients face, and it led him to question his purpose and focus in life.
Although extremely successful in his career, he told how his focus on his business had cost him two marriages, and he was now ready to pass the running of his company onto someone else. For the last 3 years he has been working on training hairdressers to cut wigs. He has learned a lot about how many cancer patients get fobbed off with poor quality wigs, and there is a shortage of good advice that these ladies – and some men , need. My New Hair has now got government funding to train more hairdressers, the target is 400 all across the UK. He also has a comitment from L’Oreal that if this proves worthwhile, then they will take this training and information service global.
They showed a film of a young lady, aged 30, with breast cancer who had lost her confidence since starting chemotherapy and losing her hair. Trevor gave her a fabulous new wig and styled it to suit her. With a touch of make up, she was glowing and looked so happy. Most of us in the audience were in tears. It took me back to the day when I was lucky enough to be given a makeover by www.carolinescampaign.org.uk. I wept that day when my friend Lindsey looked at me with tears running down her face and said ‘Oh Gabby, you look normal’ (as opposed to the bald fat alien I had been impersonating for months)
Trevor gets it, that women going through cancer can lose so much, their hair, their breast, their confidence, sometimes their jobs,money, friends (not really friends then)
You would think then that the audience, made up of cancer patients like me (I was playing spot the wig, a game I usually partake in at hospital) healthcare professionals, hairdressers and volunteers for cancer support groups, would have been in adoration of this very nice man.
Not really, he got a bit of a hard time in the question session at the end. One lady demanded to know why her hairdresser, who she had spent thousands of pounds with over the years, would no longer return her telephone calls since she had a brain tumour and lost her hair. Trevor looked a bit scared of this tearful but angry lady and gently suggested she needed to find another hairdresser who would understand her needs.
Another volunteer at Headstart at the Christie was very sceptical that Trevor would be able to get much support or recognition for his work. Headstart, she explained, is a service run by volunteers to show ladies how to use hats and headscarves, it has been running for 16 years and they struggle to get people to know about their work. Trevor explained that he has a high profile and is able to influence big businesses and the government to get interested in his work. I would say the room was divided 50-50 between people like me who admired his initiative and passion for the cause, and those who were sceptical and angry that so little help is available at the moment.
I will follow this with interest, and wish Trevor well. As I said, he gets it, that anything that improves your confidence, and mental wellbeing, has got to improve your chances of recovery.