Local Cancer Organization Offers Free Wigs - 8 News NOW

Paula Francis, Anchor

Local Cancer Organization Offers Free Wigs

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Scroll down to find how to get more information on free wigs.

(Jul. 8) -- Breast cancer patients face many side effects of treatment and one of the most upsetting is hair loss. It can be especially hard for a woman already going through the physical trauma of surgery and treatment. But a local organization offers a solution -- free of charge.

Chemotherapy helps rid the body of cancer. But the toxic drugs also impact healthy cells. Las Vegas cancer expert, Paul Michael, says the hair is especially vulnerable. "And the hair is growing rapidly, one of the fastest growing areas of our body. So temporarily, we will lose hair, not on all types of chemotherapy, but on a majority types of chemotherapy," said medical oncologist, Dr. Michael.

Hair loss isn't physically damaging, but it can sure hurt the ego. Many patients choose to wear a wig. The local chapter of the American Cancer Society created the Quality of Life Center to provide wigs and hairpieces for cancer patients.

Volunteer Barbara Blanchette is a cancer survivor herself. She says, "In fact, one lady came in with just a little hat on and she took it off and put a wig on and went home with it. She was so pleased. She was smiling all over the place and gave me a big hug and kiss. 'You made my day,' she said."

Blanchette says that some patients use the opportunity to make a drastic change in their appearance, while others take the conservative approach. It can be uplifting either way. "And by giving them the wig, it really boosts them up and they really are so pleased. I've seen so many that are so happy that it almost makes it look like their real hair and they're very pleased with that."

Volunteer Kelli Anderson helps women find a wig that's just right. "This is a really popular style, the blunt cut, this summer and the shorter styles. Let's see if we can find one that's a little more spiky."

Kelli says many women go there before they lose their hair -- to prepare themselves -- and some even shave their heads before treatments start. "Most of the women come here either prior to their first treatments or very early in treatment. We do have some patients that come after the fact. But most of the patients come very early so they are real concerned about the way they look," Kelli said.

The Quality of Life Center also provides patients with make up kits. And they host the "Look Better, Feel Better" club. Twice a month, patients get a chance to relax and have fun with others who relate to what they're going through.

Kelli Anderson added, "We do get women that want long hair even in the summer time. So we do keep a selection. Most of those are usually in the lighter tone."

There are many variations to chemotherapy and not everyone will lose their hair.

Hair loss due to chemotherapy is temporary. Hair usually falls out about a month after the first treatment and comes back about six months after it's finished.

For more information on free wigs, you can call the Las Vegas Chapter of the American Cancer Society at 702-798-6877.

Dr. Paul Michael is with Comprehensive Cancer Centers of Nevada.

 

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