By the nature of its side effects, cancer treatment can make a private battle a very public affair. For a woman with cancer, having a bald head, pale skin or a missing breast can make her feel like she's being targeted by a bright spotlight and a banner that says, "Cancer patient."
But now more than ever, there are resources for women that will put the spotlight back on their work, their accomplishments and their life—and change that banner to simply read, "Woman."
Here are a few local resources that specialize in helping women with cancer:
- Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital in Downers Grove has partnered with the American Cancer Society (ACS) to open a wig boutique which provides new wigs at no cost to cancer patients. Fittings can be scheduled by contacting the American Cancer Society at (630) 932.1151.
- DuPage Medical Group’s Cancer Resource Center offers a free wig boutique at the 1020 E. Ogden Avenue, Suite 310 Naperville office. To learn more or to make an appointment, call (630) 348-3061.
- A Women’s Place Inc., 2222 Maple Ave., Downers Grove, offers services such as after breast surgery consultations, fashion wigs, post-surgical garments, chemotherapy/radiation wardrobes, and designer jewelry.
- Sponsored by the American Cancer Society and located at Wellness House in Hinsdale, the Wig Boutique offers brand new wigs which are available in many styles and colors and are offered at no charge. Weekday, evening, and some weekend appointments are available. To make an appointment at the wig boutique, call (630) 323-5150. The Wellness House also offers a "Look Good Feel Better" program, which teaches those in active treatment how to manage hair, nail, and skin changes due to cancer treatment. Participants receive make-over tips and personal attention from a certified cosmetologist. Participants will also use and take home complimentary cosmetic kits in their appropriate skin tones with helpful instruction booklets. This hands-on workshop includes skin care/make-up application lesson, demonstration of options for dealing with hair loss, and nail care techniques. Register by clicking here.
- The Central DuPage Hospital Cancer Center hosts the American Cancer Society’s Look Good ... Feel Better meetings twice a month (second and fourth Mondays), providing makeup and beauty techniques to women who are combating the side effects of cancer treatment. Also through a partnership with the ACS, wigs are available on site to both CDH and local community cancer patients. Wig fitters are experienced American Cancer Society volunteers. Patients receive a wig by signing up for an appointment at (630) 352.5590. Patients also receive other resource information to help them through their cancer experience. Hats and scarves are also available at no charge.
Girl on the Go provides private or in-home wig consultations for women with cancer, with locations in 12 states, including Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, New Jersey, North and South Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Wisconsin.
Breast cancer survivor Sheril Cohen started the business after her own struggles with hair loss that were matched only by the frustrating process of getting a wig.
"Wig shopping was awful," Cohen shares on her website. "[The attendant] tried to sell me this wig. I thought it was a cute cut, but I thought it made me older and unattractive. I cried. I felt sexy with my long hair. With this wig on I felt like a suburban fortysomething-year-old soccer mom. I was successful, single, a thirtysomething NYC woman. I wanted to retain me—not become someone I did not recognize."
Now Cohen proudly sells wigs of all kinds—synthetic, hybrid, human hair—to women all over the country, providing, as one of her clients says, privacy.
"I felt so like myself in my wig," said Ellen, a client. "No one knew. People who knew I had been diagnosed but did not know much else used to come up to me at events and ask when I was going to start chemo or if I had chosen a doctor yet. I did not have to tell anyone anything I did not want to tell them."
As women in chemotherapy treatment discover, hair loss isn't limited to their locks. It means no eyebrows, no eyelashes and, as Cohen points out, one bright spot—no shaving.
Women can visit a lash studio to get back that feminine flutter of the lashes, and maybe even amp up their look with a few sexy, extra-long lash extensions.
There also resources online for women who have had surgery during treatment. KA Mastectomy Bras and Apparel, started by survivor Kimberly Ashmand, features pretty and practical bras tailored to the unique needs of survivors, as well as some with a little lace and sparkle to help women feel sexy again.
Adopting a new look during treatment is about more than simply feeling good for the moment—it can be another weapon in a woman's arsenal against cancer, giving her a deep well of positivity to sustain her.
TELL US: We want to know what matters most to you, whether it's lashes, lipstick or lingerie. Share in the comments section below what aspects of a makeover makes you feel the most beautiful.