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Department of Health and Trevor Sorbie team up to improve hair services for cancer patients

17 June 2009

my new hair is a charity established by celebrity hairdresser Trevor Sorbie which focuses on providing training for hairdressers to help them understand the unique needs of both cancer survivors and their hair at this difficult time. The charity also provides advice and information for patients and NHS staff on wig styling, hair loss and re-growth which can be confusing and poorly understood. The £86,500 grant provided by the Department of Health will help to support and extend this programme by providing :

• Advanced nurse-led ‘after care’ skills training for hairdressers focussing on hair re-growth and communicating with patients

• A comprehensive education resource for hair professionals to support the education programme to help them provide an effective precare and aftercare services for cancer patients

• A booklet for patients and healthcare professionals with information on hair loss, wig services and hair re-growth covering different hair types. • Confidence for hairdressers to be able to deal with the psychological implications involved with and sensitivity issues surrounding wig styling for cancer patients.

Speaking at the Number 10 breast cancer reception to mark Breast Cancer Awareness Month Secretary of State for Health Andy Burnham said: “The NHS has made tremendous progress in tackling cancer over the last 12 years, with 9,000 more lives saved in 2007 than in 1996.. And I’m delighted that last week we were able to commit to offering all patients the right to cancer tests and results within one week, With more people than ever now surviving cancer we have also committed to improving support following treatment, whether that’s returning to work or rebuilding self-esteem. “my new hair is an innovative charity which targets one of the most obvious and distressing side-effects of cancer treatment. I hope the money we are donating will help NHS staff and hairdressers to understand and support even more cancer survivors through their recovery.”

my new hair founder and celebrity hairdresser Trevor Sorbie said: The outward effects of cancer can often remain invisible until you start losing you hair. What I can do is give people going through chemo a chance to feel confident and normal. When people are fit and well we loo after them so when they are ill and going through chemo it is even more important as a hairdresser to be sensitive and make them feel special. Patients suffering from cancer don’t want to feel different they want to be able to go out and feel normal with hair that looks real and natural. “I founded my new hair to provide practical advice and support for hairdressers and people suffering from cancer to help them get the best out of their hair and help them feel good about themselves.”

Vicky Hodgson who is currently undergoing chemotherapy said: “It may not be the first thing on your mind when you are diagnosed with cancer, but having a decent hair style gives you a chance to feel feminine again. It means you can look in the mirror and feel confident when you walk out the door. The work Trevor is doing with the charity has made a real difference to my self-esteem. I was surprised by how little information there is out there for patients and hairdressers.” One in three people will suffer cancer at some stage in their lives and while significant progress has been made in survival rates, hair loss remains a likely side effect for many cancer survivors. For many people their hair is integral to their identity and research has shown that hair loss is one of the most distressing side effects of cancer treatment. This can cause anxiety and have a real impact on returning to normal life, including work.