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A former cancer nurse has been working to bring magic to the lives of children with cancer by weaving Disney princess-style wigs for children undergoing chemotherapy treatment.
Holly Christensen, a mother from Palmer in the US state of Alaska originally made a wig for her friend’s three year-old daughter after she was diagnosed with cancer in Autumn 2014, and was faced with the prospect of losing her long, blonde, curly hair through chemotherapy.
After making one wig, Ms Christensen established the ‘The Magic Yarn Project’ with her friend Bree Hitchcock. The project has since grown and led to Ms Palmer creating dozens of wigs for cancer patients in Alaska and several hospitals and communities across the country, while many of these have gone on to hold their own Magic Yarn workshops.
Writing on the website for The Magic Yarn Project, Ms Christensen, said: “I have often witnessed the scary and painful world of cancer as an oncology nurse, friend, and family member and have always held my cancer patients very close to my heart.
“In 2014 upon learning that a friend’s daughter had been diagnosed with cancer and would likely be in the hospital for a while, I began to think of what I could do to help bring some magic and light to this little girl’s life during the difficult days that I know were ahead for her. Knowing how difficult it would be for her to lose her beautiful blonde curls, I made her a Rapunzel yarn wig and sent it in the mail. She was overcome with joy.
“My friend remarked at how many other little girls in that hospital would love to have such a special gift as it had such an impact on her daughter’s demeanour and happiness during her treatments. So I began to organise what I thought would be a small project creating a few dozen wigs to send to little cancer patients and put up a request on Facebook for yarn donations. Within hours, I was flooded with responses from around the nation—mothers who wanted these wigs for their little girls who have cancer, complete strangers who wanted to help by donating money to buy yarn, hospitals reaching out and requesting some of these wigs for their hospitals.
“What started as a small project has snowballed into something much bigger and has many people eager to help. The Magic Yarn Project was then created to answer this call to bring yarn wigs to little girls nationwide and to help community members get involved in this project.”
Speaking to ABC News, Ms Christensen revealed that some patients do not like wearing traditional wigs, she said: The chemotherapy leaves their skin very tender and sensitive. The Wigs are made on soft crocheted beanies.”
Magic Yarn wigs are made by a team of dedicated volunteers at workshops held by the project and attached to longer strands which are then styled to resemble a range of Disney princesses.
Wigs are currently given for free to their recipients in hospitals across the US and are 100 per cent funded by donations, while the group estimate the cost of each wig to be $32 (£21). They are made from soft acrylic yarn and are embellished with gems, crocheted flowers, snowflakes, silk flowers and nylon and polyester ribbons.
The project is working to create Elsa, Anna, Ariel and Rapunzel wigs and has plans to create Belle, Jasmine and rainbow wigs in the future.
Ms Hitchcock and Ms Christensen have already received enquiries from across the world and hope to provide more wigs for children in paediatric cancer centres across the US.
The Magic Yarn Project is in the process of establishing itself as a not-for-profit organisation, which will allow it to obtain more funds and make as many wigs as possible, as well as provide training to individuals and communities that are already enthusiastic about the project.
The project has its own GoFundMe Page to raise awareness of The Magic Yarn Project and to encourage new volunteers and has since attracted attention from across a globe, including a craft group at women’s prison.
Ms Christensen added: "We have been inundated with requests from individuals around the world who would like these wigs for specific little girls fighting cancer. It has been absolutely touching to witness the little girls receive their wigs and see a little magic and sparkle come into their lives during such a hard time. It has also been equally touching to hear from individuals around the globe who want to put on their own workshops in their communities to make these wigs or who are even willing to donate money so we can purchase yarn. We would like to give wigs to all these little girls and we would like to facilitate all the communities who would like to get involved.
"We are in the process of becoming a non-profit, but until then, the requests for wigs are pouring in and we need more funding so we can purchase supplies to make more wigs! This is where our GoFundMe page becomes so vital right now in pushing this project forward. We are also in the process of making video tutorials on our website and putting together 'wig kits' to send to communities so they can make wigs in their own workshops under our guidance.
"As a cancer nurse I have learned that I can't save the world. I can't take the horrible disease away, but I can do something. I can bring some light into cancer patients' lives and help provide a magical escape during an otherwise dark and difficult time."
So far the GoFundMe page has raised over $7,000 (nearly £5,000) and through workshops, the group have made more than 80 wigs for children undergoing cancer treatment.
For more information on the project, or to donate, visit: http://themagicyarnproject.com/