Ginger Kelly, a former hairdresser whose favorite pastime in retirement involved shopping for the next pair of comfortable black leather shoes, held a secret most friends never knew. For the past 20 years, Kelly has perused through catalogs in search of a short-haired, yellow-blond acrylic wig. Chosen also for its lightness in weight and permanent style, the wig hid a hereditary hair-loss condition termed “Androgenetic Alopecia.”
Auto-Immune disorders, hormonal imbalances, and chemotherapy can cause patches or complete hair loss. Many women who are affected, like Kelly, wear a wig to eliminate the stigma of stares or curious questions. Not only women, but girls, boys, and men may decide to don a wig, either for the empowerment of emotional confidence or a need for normalcy.
A Priceless Donation
Jean, a resident in Winston-Salem, began the effort of deep-cleaning her home closets, a task requiring the removal of items and wiping down shelves with a wet cloth. She elicited assistance from her daughter to ease the overwhelming task of deciding which items should be kept, donated, or discarded. Not knowing what she might find, Jean rediscovered a box containing a wig. She immediately wondered who would appreciate the donation and find it useful. Knowing it never hurts to inquire, she contacted Cancer Services of Winston-Salem. Relieved to learn the agency had a need, Jean knew her donation would help others.
The Wig Boutique
Willonda Thomas accompanied her mother, Conita Hunt, to Cancer Services in the summer of 1988 after a diagnosis of stage-four inflammatory breast cancer. Thomas remembers, “It was an emotional time when we arrived. My mother had beautiful hair and took pride in her appearance. Of course, she already was going through so many emotions due to her recent diagnosis. In the Boutique Room, there were shelves of various types of wig hair styles and colors. The patient advocates at Cancer Services helped my mother feel beautiful while considering the type of wig she wanted. For a couple of minutes, she was happy.” Willonda Thomas, currently a Marketing and Development Director at the agency, views Cancer Services as a community of caring people who have served cancer patients for over 60 years. Thomas shares, “We are the only service agency in the Piedmont Triad that addresses these needs for all types of cancer patients. The Boutique is [just] one of the many services that we provide to cancer patients at no cost.”
Cancer Services of Winston-Salem
As a community advocate especially for cancer patients, the non-profit agency is usually not needed until it becomes a recommended resource. As a local service, they aim to help clients regain a sense of personal control, whether an appointment is scheduled or an individual walks through the door. Cancer Services needs the community’s assistance. Volunteers who believe in a mission to provide the best service to cancer survivors and their families may assist in the office, on special projects, or performing fundraising activities. Similarly to Jean, who wondered if they would appreciate her wig, your local Cancer Services agency will assure you that it relies on gifts to offer the best resources; perhaps support could be found through your donation!
Cancer Services is at 3175 Maplewood Avenue, Winston-Salem, NC, 27103. For additional information, please call (336) 760-9983 or access their website at cancerservicesonline.org/.