An Arizona man grew his hair out for two years to make a wig for his mother who lost her hair after undergoing treatment for a brain tumor.
Melanie Shaha permanently lost her hair four years ago after radiation treatments for a recurring benign tumor. "When you wear a hat everywhere, you just stick out like a sore thumb," she said. "I don't mind being sick, but I do very much mind that I look sick."
Her 27-year old son, Matt, started growing out his hair in 2020; after his locks reached 12 inches, he paid $2,000 for a company to hand-tie it into a strawberry-blond wig for his mother.
"She gave me the hair in the first place."
"It's a no-brainer," Matt told Fox 10 Phoenix. "She gave me the hair in the first place." At the time, he had just graduated from Brigham Young University, which has strict rules about hair length on men, and was enjoying growing it out. After two-and-a-half years, this March he cut off his hair with the help of friends and sent it to Compassionate Creations, a Newport Beach, California, business that specializes in making custom wigs for anyone experiencing hair loss. The wig was delivered to Melanie in June.
"The kindness, compassion, and sacrifice from Matt has really been spectacular," said Melanie. "He has shown a lot of love and concern." The mother of six was first diagnosed with a plum-sized benign tumor on her pituitary gland in 2003. The tumor was removed surgically then and in 2006 when it returned; another recurrence in 2017 had to be treated with radiation, which caused permanent hair loss.
A tremendous gift
According to the American Cancer Society, radiation treatment can cause hair to grow back thinner in the treated area or not to grow back at all. "Radiation therapy can cause hair to be thinned or lost in the area being treated," the agency says. "For instance, radiation to your head may cause you to lose some or all the hair on your head (even eyebrows and lashes)."
"You know, I've lost my eyebrows, lost my eyelashes, I lost my hair, so it's just been such a tremendous gift to be able to have a more normal appearance, to go places and not stand out because you look unusual, but to fit in and be beautiful," Melanie told Fox 10 Phoenix. "It's really great."