Help, Hope and Hair for CT Cancer Patients
|Among its variety of services, CancerCare provides customized wigs, caps and turbans to women who have hair loss due to cancer treatments.
When a woman is diagnosed with cancer, it affects much more than just her health. Many women coping with the side effects of chemotherapy also lose their hair. This loss can take a significant toll on a woman’s confidence, sense of femininity and wholeness. CancerCare, a national nonprofit established in 1944, is here to restore the dignity and identity in these women, enabling them to heal fully.
CancerCare’s Connecticut office upholds the organization’s mission of bringing help and hope to all of those affected by cancer including individuals, families, caregivers and the bereaved. They fulfill their mission through a variety of services including counseling, support groups, educational publications, workshops and financial assistance – all free of charge to the men and women they serve.
One of CancerCare’s popular programs provides wigs to women who have lost their hair due to cancer treatments. The power of a beautiful wig can’t be understated. As one woman who participated in the program shared, “I was so anxious to come here today to try on wigs. I cried all morning but once I came here you helped me to relax and I actually had fun! I feel beautiful for the first time in months!”
CancerCare’s support is multi-dimensional. Although women are initially referred to be fitted for wigs, they leave with much more than the customized wigs, caps and turbans that are provided. They are also assessed to uncover financial burdens, as well as unmet physical or emotional needs.
In the case of Barbara from Orange, during her personal wig fitting the oncology social worker who was working with her learned that Barbara had not been able to afford the nutritional supplement her doctor recommended. Through a quick screening, it was determined that Barbara was eligible for CancerCare’s financial assistance program, which would allow her to afford the appropriate nutrition care.
Similarly, Margaret from New Haven shared with her oncology social worker that she was having a great deal of pain from lymphedema, and was also struggling to explain her condition to her grandchildren. CancerCare gave her a grant to cover the cost of a lymphedema sleeve. In addition, Margaret was given a Comfort Pillow Activity Kit for each of her grandchildren, along with a copy of “In Mommy’s Garden,” tools designed to help the children understand and process the challenging emotions that come with cancer.
Beginning in 2012, CancerCare Connecticut’s work received a $30,000 multi-year grant from The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven to help the organization provide outreach and support services to families affected by cancer in Greater New Haven. The grant was made possible through funds at The Foundation such as the Nathan and Ellen Holbrook Fund, established in 1960 by bequest.
For more information, or to support the emotional and physical needs of those with cancer, please visit CancerCare’s giveGreater.org® profile.
Did You Know?
A 2008 literature review assessing the impact of chemotherapy on quality of life found that, “Hair loss consistently ranked amongst the most troublesome side effects, was described as distressing, and may affect the body image.”
Source: “Chemotherapy-induced alopecia and effects on quality of life among women with breast cancer: a literature review”, PubMed
Psychooncology. 2008 Apr;17(4):317-28.