Son Grows Out Hair to Make Wig for Mom With Brain Tumor
A mom is turning heads thanks to her loving son, who decided to grow out his hair to make her a wig after she lost her hair during cancer radiation treatment.
Melanie Shaha of Gilbert, Ariz., told TODAY she began experiencing dull headaches in 2003. After a series of tests, doctors identified a benign brain tumor about "the size of a plum," which was affecting her pituitary gland.
"I had surgery to remove the tumor, and I had a really great outcome," the mother of six shared.
Unfortunately, the tumor returned in 2006, and again in 2017, resulting in two more surgeries.
On her third diagnosis in 2017, Melanie was prescribed radiation to help reduce the risk of the tumor's return.
"I asked [my doctor], 'Will I lose my hair?' and they said, 'No,'" Melanie recalled. "Three months later, I had a big shed and started losing hair. I was surprised."
"Not having hair, you stick out like a sore thumb, and well-meaning people can say things that break your heart," Melanie added. "I don't mind being sick, but I mind looking sick. I'd rather blend in and not stand out at the store."
In 2018, Melanie's 27-year-old son Matt graduated from college and made a joke during lunch one day with their family: "Why don't I grow out my hair to make a wig for you?"
Matt had just graduated from a university with a stringent dress code, which limited hair growth for male students. He was enjoying his newfound freedom when "something clicked."
Melanie didn't want to burden her son with the task, but Matt insisted. Their mother-son bond strengthened as the two made jokes as Matt's hair neared the appropriate length needed to create a wig.
"I would tell him, 'I love your hair,' and he'd say, 'Coming soon to a head near you!'" Melanie told TODAY.
In March 2021, Matt's hair reached the required 12 inches of length needed to craft a wig. The family celebrated his donation day alongside a few of Matt's supportive co-workers, who all gathered at Melanie's home to watch him "chop it all off."
"We were super pumped, and when they started cutting, we bawled," Melanie recalled.
Matt's hair was sent to Compassionate Creations, a California-based company that creates wigs from human hair.
Her new 'do arrived just a few months later in June. Melanie loved her new wig, which she had professionally "cut and styled with a hairdresser."
"Matt's gift will be hard to top," Melanie added. "It sure fills your emotional cup."
"When someone selflessly shaves their head for a family member, it makes what we do even more special," Veronica Balch, co-founder of Compassionate Creations, told TODAY.