When Michael Uhde's grandma, Phyllis Drum, was going through the rigors of cancer treatment in 2012. It hit the young man hard to see her go through the battle.
The cancer had wrapped itself around a blood vessel in her leg and required an extensive surgery. She said she was lucky enough to have treatment in Fergus Falls. The Deer Creek family has a history of cancer. Drum said of 13 family members, five have had cancer and two of those have passed away.
As Drum endured the treatment, it seemed like there was little that Uhde could do for his grandmother. But something inside him said, "you can do something." His something turned out to be, do nothing to his hair but wash it for about 27 months. He grew out his hair until he had 16-17 inches of locks hanging down over his shoulders that he was more than ready to donate this spring.
Last week, Uhde's mom Teri Uhde sent off the plastic bag of hair to the Wigs for Kids organization, which accepts the hair to create wigs for children who, for whatever reason or illness, including cancer, have lost their hair.
The decision to grow his hair out was not an easy one as he likes his hair short. He often got looks and had to answer why he hadn't had any haircuts recently. It was an opportunity for him to share his reasoning for doing it.
"Almost everyday someone would ask me why I don't cut my hair," 23-year-old Michael said. "I know some people do lose hair, having cancer, just hearing about it motivated me to grow my hair out."
"I just hope it inspires people to donate more often," Uhde said of his donation.
He said he's not sure if he'll grow his hair out again anytime soon, but he does plan to donate blood as a way to keep giving of himself.
Drum, 84, is now a seven year survivor of her cancer, leiomyosarcoma, and was lucky enough to have kept her hair through her fight. She's pretty proud of her grandson that decided to donate to a worthy cause.
Michael said his co-workers barely recognized him after the transformation took place.
Michael's mom had the pleasure of cutting the locks off, which she sent off to Wigs for Kids last week. It wasn't a difficult task as she has a background in cosmetology.
"I knew what to do," she said.
Wigs for Kids requires at least 12 inches of hair but encourages lengths over 14 inches for even more impact.
Donors are also asked to consider adding a small financial donation in with the hair when it's mailed in to help Wigs For Kids with hair processing and/or helping to offset the $1,800 cost of the hair replacement system. Putting the dry hair in a Ziploc baggie, then inside a mailing package with proper address and postage is all that's needed to make the donation.
Uhde said in her research of finding a place to donate to, she had trouble finding a place to send to and even more trouble finding a local salon that would be willing to cut the hair. Uhde said she was surprised to find that it takes about 12 hair donations to make a wig. She also found out that the hair needs to be delivered in less than a year or there's a risk the hair would be flawed.