Cato (15) is back at the Princess Máxima Centre for a check-up appointment at the polyclinic and is making some time to talk about her experience with the Haarwensen Foundation. Three years ago she was diagnosed with lymphoma and during the treatment she lost her thick bunch of red blond hair. An exact copy of her haircut was ready as a wig and helped to keep her self-confident: 'I think my hair is one of the most important things. When you're bald you look sick and everyone thinks you're miserable'.
In November 2017, Cato's two-year treatment started with the consequence that she was going to lose her beautiful hair. She remembers that well: 'The PM' told me all about it. I went to the Steunpunt Haarwensen in Enschede and was helped there by a very nice lady! She measured my head, determined the color and I was allowed to try on wigs. I tried on a black wig with shorter hair, but that just didn't suit me'. After a few weeks Cato got three hair pieces and chose the most beautiful one. One with long hair, just like I had. And I wanted to cut a fringe, because then it would look less like a wig'.Bald
In the weeks after the first chemo, my hair started to fall out,' Cato continues. I had braided my hair to keep it together for as long as possible. But at one point it looked like felt and it itched too much. We have a hairdresser in the family and she came to the hospital to shave my hair off. It was done in no time, we didn't make a drama out of it. And my hair piece (wig) was already waiting for me in my room. I quickly got used to it and did all kinds of things with it, like making braids'. Cato is a creative girl who immediately offers to make her own photo collage for this article.Experience
Through Instagram and TikTok, Cato has contact with other girls who also lost their hair. They ask each other a lot of questions, like: 'How long is your hair now?' or 'What color is your hair?'. Cato: 'My hair is more beautiful now than it was before the chemo. I used to have a lot of tangles and it was stiff, now it's more wavy and a bit darker. You could call that an advantage, yes. Furthermore, a wig has two disadvantages: it's warm on your head, especially when your own hair starts to grow a bit again. Plus, I always had the nightmare that someone would pull the wig off my head in the middle of the schoolyard so I would stand there with a bald head'. For the period with (very) short hair, after the wig went off, Cato had the 'trick' of wearing a lot of pink clothes and hairbands and clips. That helps to avoid being mistaken for a boy.Good cause
Cato considers it important that all children who become bald through chemotherapy are eligible for a hair work. She has donated 150 euros to the Stichting Haarwensen by making and selling fortune dolls. . I didn't want anyone to see me with a bald head. Except at home, of course, and a few acquaintances. Except when I was back at Máxima, because there you are together with other children who are almost all bald. If you don't wear a wig you look so sick and everyone thinks you're miserable, and keeps asking 'How are you now? I really didn't want that!
The Stichting Haarwensen has already provided more than 100 children from the Princess Máxima Centre with a hair work (wig or Toupim). Normally the Haarwens Salon is open three days a week, but because of corona temporarily only on Fridays from 12.00 - 15.00 hours. The 20 support points in the country are available by appointment. The Haarwens Foundation can be reached by phone (0297-745300). Also have a look on: https://haarwensen.nl/September: Childhood Cancer Awareness Month
The whole month of September there is worldwide extra attention for child cancer. Read more
about how the Princess Máxima Center supports Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.