This time last year I donated my hair to charity. You might be thinking, why didn’t you raise money for an epilepsy charity? But at the time the issue of cancer was close to my heart.
It’s strange when situations happen to us personally, we just battle through them, but if something happens to the ones we love and care about, it affects our emotions deeper somehow. We want to remove the pain and suffering for them and we feel hopeless when there is nothing that we can do.
Cancer has unfortunately affected many people in my family and thankfully there have been good outcomes, but about two years ago I lost a good friend of mine to cancer and it was completely devastating. She was the one of those rare people who was a true friend. She always there for you when you needed her, we may not have seen each other for a while but when we did, you wouldn’t think any time had passed. She was always happy and smiling, and she was genuinely kind. Basically she had all the best qualities a person could have. We’d known each other since school and I always assumed that we would be in each other’s lives forever, which made it harder when I discovered that I wouldn’t see her anymore. No one wants to say goodbye to someone they care about.
Naturally this leaves a small gap in your life, even now I will be reminded of her, but more than anything I think of her family and her two sisters, I and think of how strong they are.
Last year I decided to try to turn my sadness into hope by trying to help others and raise money for cancer, and because I had very long hair at the time, I realised I could donate my hair and literally give something back.
After witnessing family members having chemotherapy I understood what it was like to lose your hair through cancer treatments. The main charity for hair donations is The Little Princess Trust which makes real hair wigs for children suffering hair loss from illnesses such as alopecia or cancer. This was the charity I decided to support.
Before I donated my hair, I had NEVER had my hair cut short before, so this was a huge step for me. In the end I donated 10 inches of my hair. It was a really strange sensation having so much hair being cut off all at once, feeling the weight disappearing, and holding it after was weird. I couldn’t believe just how heavy it felt.
My hairdresser was amazing; he helped raise loads of money for me and even cut my hair for free! In the end I raised nearly £1000.
The following weeks and months were unusual as I had loads of people commenting on my short hair. Even now if I meet someone I havent seen in a while they will notice that I have had my haircut.
During the past year, after trying a couple of short styles, I am now growing my hair again.
I have been going through the milestones where I could pin it back, and then tie it back. Although I didn’t mind having short hair, I also missed long hair a little, the one day I realised I could hold my hair comfortably in a ponytail, and there was a lot of hair there! Not tiny strands that escape before I had chance to throw a bobble around them, and I felt pleased. I then considered all the people recovering from cancer treatments that achieve these same milestones but feel a million times happier.
The odd thing I noticed was that I decided to donate my hair as sponsored runs etc. could mean a potential disaster for me and my epilepsy. But people were giving my excellent praise saying I was ‘brave’, as if it was something unusual, and even before I had my hair cut, my hairdressers were giving chances to back out if I wanted. Even though I appreciated their support, I thought – its only hair. Thinking, I’m lucky, my hair is healthy and it will grow back, and I wanted to help a child who needed it more than me.
I plan to keep growing my hair and have plans for another donation in the future.
Many of us have medical complaints or take medications, but how often do we think about the bigger picture?
Did you know that there is a charity that is fully committed to improving how the industry is currently run?
A few of years ago a family friend of ours became a vet and got a job at a famous veterinary practice called Fitzpatrick’s Referrals. If you havent heard of Fitzpatrick’s they have their own TV show called The Supervet, which shows pioneering surgery and treatment for animals.
Before my friend worked there I had honestly never heard of the place, and initially I was tuning in to see if he was on TV – he wasn’t. I think I saw him twice. But it didn’t matter, because I have now became addicted to the programme.
The practice boasts a brilliant and dedicated team and it is clear that for all staff, their job is their passion.
Yes there can be sad moments, but you always know that they give their best and do everything that is humanly possible in order to improve an animal’s quality of life.
The show follows the practice’s owner Professor Noel Fitzpatrick, Noel is like one of those rare teachers you might have had in school with contagious enthusiasm for their subject. He has so much passion about his profession; it makes everyone else just as equally absorbed and you soon realise you have been learning loads while watching the show, to the point where you find yourself talking to friends about stuff like orthopaedics over a cup of coffee!
After discovering about Fitzpatrick’s, and adoring the whole ethos of from ther work to the love and hope that they provide to every patient and family that reaches them, I soon found that there was also a charity, founded by Noel Fitzpatrick. You would expect a charity that’s created by a pioneering veterinarian to be focussed on animal health but it’s not. It’s called The Humanimal Trust, and it focuses on humans and animals equally through the concept of one medicine:
The theory is quite simple:
Human + Animal = Humanimal
One medicine is the idea that humans and animals will be treated equally in the field of medicine.
There are basically 3 main parts to the ethos of The Humanimal Trust and their concept of one medicine:
Clinical communication between vets and doctors.
‘Everyday there are advancements and research breakthroughs in both veterinary and human medicine, yet at present neither profession collaborates to share their information that would progress treatments and procedures using regenerative medicine for the benefit of humans and animals simultaneously.’
A couple of weeks ago, I listened to a BBC Radio 4 interview that Noel had taken part in, it discussed the topic of: ‘Should Doctors and Vets Work More Closely Together?’, an audience member mentioned that while working in Australia as a doctor, he and his colleagues learnt that vets had solved a rare medical issue that had been baffling them, the solution was discovered to be a simply a lack of copper absorption. The veterinary community already knew about it and had been treating sheep for it. communication meant that the problem was easily solved.
When I first heard that The Humanimal Trust wants to improve communication, I thought about how beneficial it could be in sourcing medical solutions and treatment for so many people.
As many of you know by now I have epilepsy, and I can remember thinking that if there was a vet somewhere in the world, who had perhaps made immense progress towards epilepsy which could be of benefit to humans, I would like to know about it, and I think many other people would feel the same.
Medication for humans and animals that is ethical
Ethics in medicine is an important topic, and The Humanimal Trust is addressing this.
Currently, if we have any medication or implants they have been tested on animals in order for them to reach us, meaning a perfectly healthy animal has sacrificed its life for our medicine.
In 2015 approximately 4,300 dogs in the UK sacrificed their lives for human medicine, in the USA, that number was nearer 50,000  . These are shocking statistics, and since I have been a child I have always been concerned about animal welfare. I have never been content with the fact that animals have been used to test drugs, and that our only consolation is that it’s safer than endangering human life. But, there could be a possible solution. The Humanimal Trust proposes that with the diseases and conditions are practically identical in humans and animals, medications and implants could be trialled on animals that are actually unwell, and then co-operate with pharmaceutical companies, which would then produce more ethical medications.  This would be benefiting both humans and animals.
Human medicines are huge business, so there is a risk that pharmaceutical companies may see more profit in the way they currently run business. I once sat next to my GP as we went through a list of generic and branded medications that I could have. I saw exactly how much they were costing the NHS to purchase, and the prices were eye-watering.
A vital part of The Humanimal Trust is that they also conduct their own clinical studies; The Trust is potentially the only charity of its kind in the world that is funding clinical research in animals and humans at the same time.
It’s understandable that we all want cures and treatments for our illnesses, but there other problems that can also arise without warning, for example MRSA and Ebola. These bugs are the same in humans and animals, so what’s the best plan for when a superbug strikes? Especially as it’s no news that healthcare professionals can sometimes overprescribe antibiotics:
‘You don’t care about MRSA until it’s in your child and yet The Humanimal Trust is funding a project to look at bacterial resistance with over prescription of antibiotics, it’s the same bug. We have DNA mapped, every bug that comes into my practice it’s the same bug that you or your child would have. Why are we not doing a study in parallel? If doctors are going to be over prescribing antibiotics and vets are going to be over prescribing antibiotics,…we are in a mess.’ (Noel Fizpatrick)
So that’s the Humanimal Trust!
Im grateful for learning about Fitzpatrick Referrals through The Supervet, I believe that they are more than just a referral practice. They show unconditional love and hope to everyone regardless of whether they are animal or human.
I have been equally appreciative to discover the amazing charity of The Humanimal Trust as the charity also provides that same love and hope with the pledge to benefit both humans and animals.
I truly believe that The Humanimal trust has the potential to change the world of medicine, and benefit so many lives (both human and animal!)
Before I knew about The Humanimal Trust I always believed that our health care system was pretty good, and I couldn’t think of much that needed improvement. I’ve now realised that things could be improved and great things could be gained.