RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) – A cancer diagnosis can take its toll on patients, but there’s a place within the walls of VCU Massey Cancer Center helping them feel beautiful.
The hospital’s Wig Salon provides wig fittings, haircuts and head shavings along with hats, turbans and scarves. All services are free to cancer patients, like Michelle Clark.
“It was kind of shocking. I wasn’t expecting that at first,” Clark says about her diagnosis with Stage 3 Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma.
Inside the salon, Clark can forget about chemotherapy and needles and instead get part of her identity back. “Just to be able to throw on the wig and have hair can help a whole lot in the way you feel about yourself.”
“They know we have the medicine to help them, the physical parts, but it’s also emotional,” says Salon Coordinator Michel Goode, speaking of the dozens of patients she’s helped since taking this position in February. “If you feel good on the outside, of course you’re going to feel good on the inside.”
No one knows that better than Antoinette Draper. “The first time I combed my hair and my hair was in my hand was the worst day.”
Draper was diagnosed with Breast Cancer in June 2013. She works in the hospital pharmacy upstairs from the salon and knew exactly where to go when she needed a boost.
“It just made me feel like a queen for one day while I was getting it fitted on,” Draper says with a smile. “I didn’t know if I wanted long or short, but my husband said just go red.”
Draper decided not to go red, but Goode says a lot of women do. They use a trying experience to try something new.
“I’ve had a couple people, brunettes want to be blondes because their husbands like that,” Goode gestures to the glass cases of wigs in every shade. “I’ve had people do a drastic change, and they like it.”
Grants pay for all the wigs and services, and Goode says the salon is open to all cancer patients, not just those getting treatment at VCU Massey Cancer Center.
Copyright 2014 by Young Broadcasting of Richmond