Henna "crowns" for chemotherapy patients

Samaritan Magazine has a fun article here about Henna Heals, a charity based in Toronto, Canada that offers a free service to cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy: beautiful henna designs applied to their chemo-bald heads. The organization was created by photographer Frances Darwin, who also captures the resulting designs in photos. Snip:

The swirling, intricate drawings, which are safe, temporary and applied by skilled artists, command the eye to the head of the henna wearer, inspiring awe rather than pity while offering an alternative to wigs or hats. Perhaps more importantly, these henna "crowns" offer women suffering hair loss -- and the accompanying lost sense of femininity that brings -- a chance to feel uniquely lovely while inviting gentle dialog about a tricky subject.

When I began chemo as treatment for breast cancer, a number of friends suggested henna designs to me, too. I haven't done it yet, but I'm still chemo-bald... so it's not too late! Might be worth a trip up to Toronto to visit these guys. A beautiful project, and really pretty designs.

Cancer Patients Transformed By Gorgeous Henna Dome Designs | Samaritan Mag.

(Photo: Frances Darwin; model: Tara Schubert; henna: Darcy Vasudev. Link via Chris Woodfield)


  1. This is an original article written for Samaritanmag.com Please link to the story on our site please (where you mention it in the first sentence). Thanks for your support.

    1. Perhaps you missed the link, but it’s right there in the blog post. We generally don’t link twice in the same post, and this format made sense.

  2. Xeni,

    I just found out that the Vapor Room, one of San Francisco’s oldest, best run, most reputable, safe, legitimate and above board dispensaries is being evicted by their landlord who is being extorted by the DoJ with threats of forfeiture of their *building*. [Oh and also, they couldn’t find any charges against bankers, but seem to have no problem in not just bending but raping the law when it suits.]

    If the Vapor Room is not an above board legitimate dispensary, and is therefore being targeted according to Obama for “flouting” the law and abusing the medical marijuana laws for profit, then THERE IS NO LEGITIMATE DISPENSARY.  Both the DoJ and the president are lying, unfortunately. They are not going after the dodgy dispensaries, they are going after ALL dispensaries. 

    On a scale of 0 to 10, where zero is as “dodgy” as the Medellin Cartel, and Walgreens is a totally legitimate pharmacy at a 9, then VR was a 10. They sure checked ID and prescriptions more thoroughly and consistently than Walgreens does. VR was full of chemo patients, epileptics, MS and ALS patients in wheelchairs and people from every walk of life. If they are not legit, no one is legit and the DoJ is satisfied with nothing less than a complete abolition of medical marijuana in CA. 

    This is the third dispensary within 50 miles that is closing this way and I am running out of dispensaries. I expect I will have to drive 50+ miles next month. I am truly terrified that I will lose access to the only medicine that keeps my panic attacks and anxiety at bay and either have to get my medicine from a street dealer or switch to Xanax, Valium or benzo-diazepams. I’ll use a dealer, though because those drugs are addictive, make me sick and make me so fuzzy I can’t work. 

    I will join you in Sacramento for a march

    1. Golden Gate Park, at the Hippie Hill drum circle, can pretty consistently provide what you need.  It won’t have the same quality control or selection of strains as a dispensary, but from a Federal standpoint it’s a local police crime problem, not a political embarrassment, so by being illegal (for the sellers, not for you), it’s in some sense more legal.

      1. Can they ensure that I don’t get a sativa strain that will cause me to have a panic/anxiety attack instead of helping? No, that’s what my dispensary did. 

        Can they source a high-CBD strain for analgesic relief for those who do not want the pyscho-active effects?  No, that’s what my dispensary did. 

        Can they provide quality edibles for slow-release?  No, that’s what my dispensary did. 

        Do they inspect every new batch with a microscope to protect against contamination by fungus, mites, pesticides or any other impurities?  No, that’s what my dispensary did. 

        There’s a huge difference between safe, consistent and legal access to the medicine someone needs to function and “scoring some dope” from the hippies in GG park. Nothing against recreational use or hippies, but it’s not the same thing. 

        That’s why this crackdown is so insidious and hypocritical: they are hitting the good clinics, pushing legitimate patients into the black market. 

  3. I only hope that when it is my turn I will be able to face whatever happens in a positive way too.

    As Jimi said, I’m gonna wave my freak flag high! Meaning be proud of being different you beautiful hippies.

  4. Ha! Awesome. I’ve been trying to get my wife to get one. She just went through radiation for brain cancer and she very literally has a half head of hair… right side back length, left side nothing. It’s super hard core… almost as cool as the 15 gimongous staples she had sticking out her head after surgery. Anyways, I think a henna tattoo would be bad ass.

    Is there any sort of henna type substitute that comes in black?

    1. There’s a product marketed as ‘black henna’, which is extremely dangerous and can leave permanent scars, so avoid that. There’s always indigo.

  5. Xeni, I love how you are unafraid of being a pioneer.  You set a great example.  If I ever get cancer (again), I am doing it *YOUR WAY.*  I was just a tot when it grabbed me, but if it should happen again as an adult, now I know what to do, how to be.  THANKS!!!

    1.  That depends on skull shape. Some people look great bald, others not. Unfortunately there’s only one way to find out…

  6. Anyone looking for henna crowns in New England (Boston, Providence, etc) – please contact me at http://www.HennaByHeather.com :)

    And wow, once again Darcy’s photos are being snagged and used in others’ articles!… Glad to hear she noticed it and was able to include her info here. It’d be proper to credit her in the photo caption itself – can that be done?

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