For many women going through breast cancer treatment, losing their hair is worse than losing a breast.
Fortunately, there are resources available to help women going through chemotherapy, including the American Cancer Society’s Resource Room located between the Cancer Center at Wise Regional and an adjacent imaging center at 2010 S. Ben Merritt Dr. in Decatur.
The resource room includes an assortment of wigs, scarves and hats that are available free of charge. Among those wigs are four of the five donated by breast cancer survivor Dana Clinesmith of Decatur.
“I just thought other people could use them,” she said. “… If someone has a need for it, and that’s the way they want to go, hopefully someone can use them and have fun with it.”
Clinesmith is happy to have her hair back now, but she relied on the wigs for about nine months beginning in June of last year when she lost her hair due to breast cancer treatment.
Shopping for a wig was a new experience for her.
“My first idea was to go with wigs in different colors,” Clinesmith said. “I’d go with a blond wig or a red wig, one with streaks. … Everyone would know I was wearing a wig, so why not really go with something different?
“But after trying them on, I just couldn’t do that. It had to be somewhere in my color range. So I stuck with my color range and a hairstyle I had worn previously in my life. It was just too different.”
Clinesmith, a member of the Decatur City Council, found she was comfortable wearing wigs but said each woman should decide for herself how to handle her baldness.
“Some people choose not to have wigs, and that is awesome,” she said. “However you choose to do it is individual to the person going through it. Some people feel comfortable being bald. Some wear scarves or blingy hats. Everyone likes to do it in their very own way.”
In some ways, wearing a synthetic wig had its advantages over a full head of hair. With different wigs in different hairstyles, she could simply decide which one she wanted and put it on without spending time fixing her hair. Plus, you don’t have to worry about bad hair days.
Of course, wigs do require a little extra care. Clinesmith said cleaning the wigs involves a multi-step process of washing and drying by hand.
“I’d have wig-washing day,” she said.
She also learned the hard way that synthetic wigs didn’t always stand up to extreme heat very well.
“I’d cook and open the oven, and the heat would come out, and I just toasted the bangs on one,” she said.
Of course, she didn’t have that problem with the one wig she had that was made of real hair. That wig could also be washed like you would your real hair.
Each donated wig comes with care instructions.
One of the wigs she donated is already being used by another breast cancer patient. She hopes other local women fighting breast cancer will find the comfort she did in the wigs.