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Kenyan Salon Offers Wigs to Cancer Patients

Diane Akech started doing makeovers five years ago after a friend developed cancer. The friend lost her hair, but Akech gave her a wig. The wigs cost around $250 each and are paid for by donations from hospitals and companies. For those recovering from cancer, the journey is often long and painful. A wig can ease the pain and serve as a reminder that they are not alone. Cancer is the third-leading cause of death in Kenya, according to the World Health Organization, and the numbers are rising, from 37,000 reported cases in 2012 to almost 48,000 currently. Dr. Gladwell Kiarie is an oncologist at The Nairobi Hospital. She attributes the rise to increased cancer screening and a change of lifestyle. “We are smoking more. We are taking alcohol more,” Kiarie said. “Our traditional diets have changed and we no longer eat the traditional food that we used to. We have more fatty foods. We have less water and greens in our foods, more processed food.” The government has responded with awareness campaigns and the opening of more diagnostic centers across the country. But most Kenyans, who live on less than $3 a day, cannot afford treatment.