Watch: Dubai hairdresser goes viral for shaving his head in solidarity with client with cancer – News

“It is sometimes difficult for children to see their mother without hair – I wanted to make sure [they] knew everything was fine,” says hairdresser Jalal Hafed

Published: wed 21 dec 2022, 17:45

When Emily Bennett met Jill Weymes and Jill’s husband Jalal Hafed online earlier this year, she had no idea what that friendship would mean to her once she was diagnosed with cancer.

Earlier this week, the 34-year-old decided to shave off her long tresses when she noticed her hair was falling out in clumps following chemotherapy. Jalal, who works as a hairdresser and owns the Nordic Int’l Beauty & Training Center in Jumeirah, offered to do the cut.

When Emily arrived at the salon with her three children, 4-year-old twins Ela and Isa and 5-year-old Davey, Jalal was ready for her. And to his surprise, Jalal also shaved his hair. In a video that has gone viral on social media, Emily’s confusion is evident as she tries to figure out what’s going on.

“He is still so elegant and [looks] so beautiful – I didn’t expect it at all,” Emily said, speaking to Khaleej Times. “However, it meant a lot to me, especially [considering] the children were with me.

Jalal says he wanted to let the kids know that their mother cutting her hair is fine. “It’s sometimes difficult for children to see their mother without hair,” he explains. “I wanted the children [knew] that was good – maybe even a cool thing! Also, Emily is a very dear friend. I wanted to do a little something in solidarity with her.

And of course, one of Emily’s daughters asked if she could shave her hair too. “She thought it was beautiful,” Emily said. “It made me laugh, and I needed it to lighten the mood.”

Afterwards, Jalal even got a present for Emily.

A friendship meant to be

Emily met Jalal’s wife when she placed an order in her then-online Etsy shop in December 2021 – exactly a year before Jalal cut his hair. At the time, she was in the UK and her husband had just been offered a job in Dubai. “We connected quite quickly, especially since our children were the same age,” said Jalal, who has a 3-year-old daughter. “We took the kids to games and quickly became very good friends.”

Jalal with his family

Jalal with his family

According to Emily, it was a relief to have friends like Jalal and Jill when she first moved to the UAE. “They were very warm and welcoming,” she said. “And their daughter was a good playmate for my children. With no other family around, it was a big help.

Having a family history of breast cancer, Emily underwent a thorough examination in May this year, where all her breast tests and ultrasounds were clear. In October, Emily sensed something was wrong. “It was a weird feeling that I had cancer,” she said. “I couldn’t feel anything, but I just knew something was wrong. actually, I [developed] insomnia because of it.

Seeing all the breast cancer awareness posts over the month, Emily decided to get checked again. “My husband was making an appointment for himself, and I just asked him to book me one as well,” she said. “I remember reading the story of an influencer, and the story stuck as it was my age – I decided to go to the same hospital.” Meeting Dr Archana at Mediclinic Parkview the same week, her worst fears were confirmed – she was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer.

Glad to be in Dubai

In the weeks following her diagnoses, Emily underwent a series of tests – including a PET scan, MRIs, biopsies and a genetic test which revealed that she indeed had a rare genetic mutation in the PALB2 gene.

“If I had known earlier, I would have had regular and close monitoring,” she says. “However, I am happy to have this information now. It will be very important for my family and my children to take care of their health.

Emily with Jill, Jalal's wife

Emily with Jill, Jalal’s wife

Meanwhile, Emily was extremely grateful to be in the UAE. “A friend of mine in the UK was diagnosed at the same time as me,” she said. “She doesn’t have an appointment for chemotherapy yet; however, they are considering four months.

It made me realize how blessed I am to live here and receive the kind of medical care I receive here. I was able to catch my disease at a very early stage and I am completely convinced that it can be cured. Timing is key in the case of cancer.

Emily admitted that she was sometimes scared of her fluctuating energy levels after chemotherapy. “I have three young children and they’re a little clingy now,” she said. “They want to see me all the time. So it’s hard for them when I go for a nap or when I’m low on energy.

That’s the only thing that worries me. At this time we are looking for a full time nanny to join our family to help and support. It’s going to be a tough year, but we’ll come out stronger on the other side.


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