Gilbert man grows out hair to donate wig to his mom
GILBERT, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) — A 27-year-old man grew his hair out for two years to donate it and make it into a wig for his mom, who lost her hair due to radiation treatment. In 2003, Melanie Shaha was diagnosed with a benign tumor on her pituitary gland in her brain. “Your pituitary is in the middle of your head and it sends a signal for things to work in your body,” explained Melanie. “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.”
Melanie underwent two surgeries to remove the tumor between 2003 and 2006. Unfortunately, in 2017, it came back. This time, her doctor recommended radiation treatment for five days. “It came as a surprise three months later when I had a big shed and lost all my hair, lost my eyebrows, lost my eyelashes,” Melanie said. “The doctor said, ‘oh, radiation actually killed your pituitary so, you’re not going to get better. This is it. And your hair is not going to come back.’”
Melanie got permanent makeup done by Marilyn Byerly at Make Up Magic, Inc. However, she still missed her hair. “I don’t mind being sick, but I do mind looking sick,” Melanie explained. “I could tell that she had struggled with losing her hair, which makes sense. It was always kind of a soft spot for her,” said her son, Matt Shaha. “My mother, she is a mother of six, a great wife, she’s tough as nails, but this is the one thing that kind of like ate at her. I realized, it wouldn’t take much to grow my hair out for her.”
Matt said he was home from college between semesters when he came up with the idea. “I was a little overdue for a haircut and 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?” Between March 2020 and March 2022, he never cut his hair. “I have a newfound respect for women and their long hair and all of the hard work that it is,” Matt joked.
Matt’s strawberry blonde locks match his mother’s perfectly. It grew to 12 inches before they decided to finally cut it and send it to Compassionate Creations to form into a wig designed just 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,” Matt said. “I barely kept it together but it’s meant the world. It turned out so much better than I thought it would.”
“I was completely charmed. To have someone view you with compassion. To have your son see this is a hard time, it’s pretty great,” Melanie said. The wig came in the mail three months later. Melanie said she feels like normal self again. “It’s fabulous. I mean obviously, it’s fabulous. To be such a gift of love, to feel like I look beautiful. It’s really great,” Melanie said. “It’s a miracle and it’s soft and it’s beautiful and it’s real hair and it’s his hair.”
Matt said it’s the least he could do for a mother that’s given him so much. “She’s just kind of been the mama bear growing up. Whatever I needed, she was going to get it for me. So to be able to give something back has meant the world,” Matt said. “It’s exactly how she looked; it’s the same color, it’s the same style, it’s roughly the same length, so I don’t even see it as my hair anymore.” Melanie said she still feels some fatigue and brain fog, but she feels happy and supported. She also said the radiation shrunk her tumor. “I think it can come back, I think it ought not to,” Melanie said.
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