Moms

North Richland Hills doctor donates gray hair to show support for breast cancer patients

Silver-haired wigs are not easy for cancer patients to come by after they lose their hair to chemotherapy.

But Dr. Patrick Allen is doing his part to help. Allen, a North Richland Hills obstetrician/gynecologist, donated 10 inches of his silver mane to a charity Wednesday as a show of support for breast cancer patients.

The biggest risk factor for breast cancer is age, and women often lose their hair as part of treatment, Allen said.

"But not every woman is dyeing her hair," he said. "I have quite a few gray hairs and I figured I could grow it out for someone."

When Allen stopped cutting his hair in November 2008, he was surprised to learn that a lot of charities do not accept gray.

"It's harder to donate gray hair than I ever thought it would be," Allen said.

As an alternative, he sold $5 raffle tickets to see his first haircut in 18 months. The cutting, held in the lobby of North Hills Hospital in North Richland Hills, raised about $15,000 for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

While synthetic wigs are available, finding silver wigs made from human hair is much harder, said Jennifer Grunwald, owner of Survivor Gals Specialty Products and Salon at Baylor All Saints Medical Center in Fort Worth.

"That would be quite a trick," she said.

Allen did find one charity that would accept his silver hair. WigFund.com lets individuals who have lost their hair set up a wig fund to collect donations of money or hair, even gray.

Allen, 50, said he hopes to inspire others to grow out their gray hair to be used as a wig.

His braided hair is now on its way to California, and Allen is trying to get used to his new look.

"It feels strange," he said. "I keep picking up my stethoscope to pull it over my ponytail, and there's no ponytail there."

JAN JARVIS, 817-390-7664

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