It is painful watching family and friends undergo chemotherapy and radiation, along with its inherent physical and emotional changes. So, this report of a son who gave a gift of love to his mother who lost all her hair is worthy of a Feel-Good Friday story.
Matt Shaha, 27, grew out his hair for two years to donate and make it into a wig for his mom who was undergoing radiation treatments.
Melanie Shaha was diagnosed with a benign tumor on her pituitary gland in 2003.
“Your pituitary is in the middle of your head, and it sends a signal for things to work in your body,” she told Arizona’s Family. “It’s not cancer, it’s a benign tumor, but it’s in the wrong place. And it smashes important things and can cause a lot of trouble, so you can’t let it stay.”
The pituitary gland is about the size of a pea and resides behind the bridge of the nose. So it doesn’t take up much space. A tumor, however, can, as Melanie Shaha explains, and can send the body into hormonal and physiological trauma.
She underwent two surgeries to remove the tumor between 2003 and 2006, but it returned in 2017 and doctors recommended radiation treatments.
Melanie Shaha lost all her hair about three months later, including her eyebrows and eyelashes. The doctor told her the radiation killed her pituitary, so her hair would not come back.
“I don’t mind being sick, but I do mind looking sick,” she said.
Matt had completed college and was at home with his parents, when the idea sparked to grow his hair out.
“I was at dinner with my parents, and someone made the comment that my hair was starting to get a little long and I jokingly said, ‘Oh maybe I’ll just keep growing it for a week for you.’ And then it clicked. And I was like, ‘Why don’t I?’” he said.
It is a huge boost to confidence, morale, and outlook when a cranial prosthetic (as wigs for chemotherapy patients are called), or even a makeup or clothing makeover are given to someone who has undergone the harrowing chemotherapy process. It takes incredible strength, bravery, and fortitude to navigate the waters, so having a physical reawakening not only elevates the self-esteem, but the spirit.
I loved Matt Shaha’s response to a question about why he chose to do it.
“She gave it to me, so it was a no brainer to give it back.”
After two years and a foot-length of hair, Matt cut it to send to a company called Compassionate Creations to design and create a wig, especially for his mom.
“I was not expecting that to be as emotional as it was. It kind of started out as a fun little project between me and my mom, but as soon as the hair was long enough and we cut it, it was like, ‘This is real,’” he said.
“I barely kept it together, but it’s meant the world. It turned out so much better than I thought it would.”
A precious gift from a precious son. Melanie Shaha should be proud.