Silvina L. Marquez
“There are people who will not understand that they are undergoing treatment, but when they fall, there is no possibility of hiding the illness. El pelo is the most visible cuestión”, recognize the PROFILE of the psychooncologist Luciana Pach. “El pelo is in the head and when one looks at someone who makes it a la cara y verse pelada cuesta”.
With the sense of accompanying this movement from the NGO Pelucas de Esperanza, they make pelucas with which the people donate to provide them, free of charge, to children and women with cancer who are in their chemotherapy stage. Currently, this organization has its main house in Gualeguaychú, Entre Ríos, with 17 branches throughout the country and one in Uruguay.
Origins. “A day falls to the peluquería a famous queen of the carnival of Gualeguaychú with a box of shoes. She was reluctant to shave her hair because she started chemo and she wanted to keep it. Among her sadness at the news of her illness for her, the worst was the loss of her hair and that her hijita la viera peladita ”, begins the story Evangelina García Blanco, makeup artist, cosmetologist and beautician, creator and director of Pelucas of Esperanza.
“His brother had bought a kanekalon hairpiece (similar to natural, but plastic), nothing to do with his long hair. Armé a public Facebook group asking for pelucas in disuse and the other day I am filled with messages. So I formed a fur bank”, she summarizes.
“In 2011, an employee got sick and there, together with her sister, we removed curtains that we had and looking at on YouTube, we hicimos the first natural fur furry with shorts from the body and rubber bands”.
So this NGO grew and followed the numbers of García Blanco, until the December of 2021 it produced about 30 thousand furry ones and they are present in different Argentine provinces and in Uruguay. Its branches in Entre Ríos are in Paraná, Crespo, Concepción del Uruguay, Rosario del Tala, Cerrito, Feliciano, Federación, Concordia, Villaguay and Gualeguay. In Santa Fe they are in Villa Mugueta, in Córdoba in Embalse, Arroyito and Freyre and in Buenos Aires in Las Heras and Ramallo.
How it works. Loly Gassmann, representative of the Crespo branch, explains to PROFIL: “we are a reception center for the donation of fur and supplies (shampoo, rinse cream, cap for making the hairs). These receptions are held at the workshop in Gualeguaychú where you volunteer the cosen and confeccionan”. He adds that “they lend themselves to oncological patients for the time that they need and luego se devuelven, se conditiona y se lends de nuevo to another persona”.
Gassmann explains that when a patient wants to have a hair, they must communicate with the closest branch and there they request a photo where they have hair. This image is derived from the Gualeguaychú workshop where you can see if you have a fur available and that it is more similar to the patient’s color and color. If there is, from the headquarters, they send to the branch that it requested and in the opposite case, it falls on the waiting list until another person gives something or can be done.
This procedure is also accompanied by other papers such as the DNI photocopy, a certainty that believes that you are an oncological patient and someone who is going to be responsible.
Pelucas orders are more for young people and adults. For girls, “there are no requests because they are hospitalized with other naked girls, but they also happen”, explains Gassmann. “For these cases, the seamstresses use the virgin who is not damaged or dyed”.
At the time of receiving the hair, people have different attitudes. “Some show some resistance. Less cuestase adapt or carry yourself with something extraño in the body because you can’t always get the same thing wide open. Others wear fur and sale”, says the Crespo branch representative.
Why he hair. The licensee Pach delves into the theme. “The patient when he needs his hair is because he has a diagnosis or he has chemo”, she maintains. In the beginning, it “cuts itself by the worst cut, because it makes you fall. After she falls in the pillow, in the bed, in the towel, she falls with the mechón of hair in her hand and empieza to feel intolerance to eso. Después muchas deciden raparse”, she details.
The psychologist considers that the hair is a more social question. “Normally, a la peluca en su casa no la usan and al principio avoiding los espejos y no quieren verse”, she says and expands her. “Lo mismo passes with the mastectomy. After that they empiezan themselves to aim and see that they are not feas naked and that they fall beautiful and they fall short, when they empieza to grow. So I recognized that the most valuable thing is life, in the fur”.
Pach reflects “in this transition from something so delicate, they face vulnerability, fragility and the idea of death, which is why family, affective support is fundamental, because “sometimes it is familiar, but not affective”.
For that reason, from the Crespo branch “on the ground we help to find the fur, but we work from a social area more linked to an articulation with professionals who work the most integral aspects of this patient. La persona is not only a body”, he says.
No distinction. According to the record with the account of Pelucas de Esperanza, Crespo branch since late 2016, to date, they have received some 7,000 fur donations, as explained by the psycho-oncologist of the Crespo branch that “to have a hair piece, five and seven donations are needed” , not es que con una hacés una peluca”.
The volunteers of this branch recognize that they have had a good reception and empathy for this cause. Gassman exemplifies that “there were men who made some promises and if they wanted to grow the hair to donate it or for the diffusion, before the hair of a cut was taken away; now, lots of peluqueras guard it and deliver it to us”.
To donar el hair no hay edad, sex the type or color. Gassmann admits that it does not matter that he has suffered some treatment as he has had or smoothed, which he has not had. As a requirement to donate the hair, it must be 20 cm or longer, be separated and tied with gomitas and “in case it is sent by correspondence, the hair must be dry”, he says.
Pach of the Crespo branch, concluded with a council linked to cancer: “the self-examination is important once a month and once a year since 40 years until the patient dies naturally there is a mammogram. No studio surpasses mammography. There is also to take care of what one eats and take care of our emotions, because our body is our home”.
La beauty as a therapeutic tool
On the 19th of October, on the initiative of the World Health Organization, the International Day of Fight Against Breast Cancer is celebrated every year. Regarding this close, we know how important it is to accompany women in an integral way.
In addition to conventional therapies, it is important to consider how we can make use of other resources such as cosmetics or hair products. Postizos, understood as bodily elements that are attached to the body itself to give it another appearance and that replace or replace an absence. Added that can result in valuable tools and produce, in some cases, a relief in the face of a traumatic event that affects the image. Above all, in life circumstances in which the sense falls and conventional therapies are not always sufficient.
In this sense, it is important to mention that the image can be affected by different reasons. It is relevant that we can differentiate between what we call body image and body schema (organism). The body schema specifies the individual as a representative of the species. Es decir, the body scheme is, in the beginning, the mismo for everyone. The image of the body, in exchange, is unique to each individual, unique and unrepeatable, it is a singular trait and is linked to the psychic constitution of the subject and its history. This image is eminently unconscious.
It is interesting to consider la beauty as therapeutic. The postizos as a valuable tool, in some cases, to address the malaise in the body and the deterioration of the image produced from the body’s struggles over the body that affect the image. Y es ese malastar en el cuerpo, which Freud rightly mentioned as one of the reasons for human suffering.
The experience of the beautiful through the use of pendants as an ephemeral art is not therapeutic in itself, a bell that requires a subjective decision. Es decir, que haya quienes estén willing to take it as an answer, as a symbolic resource in the face of an imponderable, impossible to bear by its marks in the body, as is an illness. The therapeutic effect is the product of an action that produces a reduction in suffering, a relief, a good feeling or a new position in the face of what happens.
Es decir, that in order for cosmetics or the experience of beauty to be therapeutics, it must be constituted in a symbolic operation for this human being. The human being is the only one capable of constructing symbols, forms that give meaning and meaning to a human experience and transform its understanding of reality.
In conclusion, the experience of the beautiful is therapeutic when:
You are able to make us love the hour that never shines: when we get sick something goes dark.
It allows to ignite the death: in the sense of suffering that entails a suffering that affects the image.
Light up what lasts: however small it may be and however ephemeral it may be.
Produce an effect on that human being.
*Posdoctor in Psychology. Graduate and postgraduate teacher (USAL). She is the author of several books, including Maquillar lo real. Therapeutic effects (Live Letter, 2019).
The healing character of the word
Nancy Ferro, Agustina Chacón and Sonia Checchia*
Much has been said and written about the relationship between reality and words. From philosophical and ideological positions to the daily attempts of all people to influence reality with their discourse, we know the force with which words impact on the experience of getting sick with cancer. The discourses that revolve around diseases condition the experience of being sick, and being diagnosed with cancer is much more than a medical experience. The term “cancer” extends the scope of health and illness, has a cultural connotation and social impact, is a common adjective at the time of giving account of any social evil that is available to destroy and corrupt. It is an ubiquitous word, but it costs to pronounce before being diagnosed.
Our work as psychologists leads us to believe deeply in the therapeutic nature of words during consultations and the office. People in moments of vulnerability and fragility we need both care and understanding, which is expressed in actions and words. In the experience of exercising clinical practice in the field of oncology, in the specialty of psycho-oncology, it becomes more evident the role of words, myths and beliefs that society as such and people in particular support it time to think and name cancer. Friends, family, co-workers, doctors, communication media, at the end of the day, we all behave like “the people” when dealing with a topic that by acronyms has been associated with death and deterioration.
In our daily practice, we listen to our patients talk about how they are impacted by comments, opinions and councils from different areas.
At the Alexander Fleming Institute (IAF) we carried out the campaign “La enfermedad y las palabras”, whose objective was to make cancer visible from the phrases that patients hear since they are diagnosed and to try to know, unravel and question the imaginaries socially constructed in I return to oncological diseases. This campaign was the genesis of a book, El cáncer y las palabras, which shaped several phrases written by fist and letter by people who had been ill with cancer, told us about the clear impact that the words had when it was time to facilitate ways of affrontamiento genuine, fuera de los clisés habituales.
When thinking about the force of words, the role of communication media is privileged, which unfortunately uses warlike metaphors to talk about cancer. But it is said and thought less in more personal and private situations, such as the words of friends, family, co-workers. The power of words can facilitate the numbing of the meaning that society is giving to the illness of cancer and the possibility of healing.
*Authors of El cáncer y las palabras, Ed. Grijalbo.
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