Wig bank helps cancer patients boost self-image

Wigs on mannequins

They line the walls, organized by color: blonde, brunette, red, black and gray. Different shapes and lengths, free to those who need one. People like Angela Turner, who lost her hair after being diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma for the second time in eight years.

“Last December, I started getting a dry cough and night sweats. I went to the Nebraska Medical Center and doctors discovered my lymphoma had come back,” explains Turner. “In April, I had a stem cell transplant and received high, intense chemotherapy. When I started losing my hair, I didn’t feel as feminine.”

That same month, Kim Brayfield was diagnosed with Invasive Ductal Carcinoma, a common type of breast cancer. She underwent two surgeries at the med center and started chemotherapy in late July – the same time the new wig bank at Nebraska Medicine - Cancer Center at Village Pointe opened its doors.

“You don’t have control over cancer, but you do have control over when you get your head shaved,” says Brayfield. “The best medicine is to have a positive attitude. The support at the wig bank has been awesome.”

When the American Cancer Society approached the Cancer Center at Village Pointe about being a location to accept and give out free, gently used wigs, physicians and staff members were eager to help.

“This program is another example of how we strive to be very patient focused,” explains Elizabeth Reed, MD, medical director of the Cancer Center at Village Pointe. “Looking your best and putting your best foot forward is extremely important in the healing process. It gives patients a sense of normalcy.”

The wig bank is open for any individual experiencing hair loss due to cancer, burns or alopecia. Of the more than 140 wigs available, the American Cancer Society donated 130. More wigs are coming and going each day. Every donation makes a difference.

“Human hair wigs can sometimes cost thousands of dollars,” says Dr. Reed. “This can be an expensive, stressful time for patients. When it comes to cancer, insurance companies will pay for prosthesis, but they won’t always pay for hairpieces. That’s why this free wig bank is so important.”

Each wig is cleaned and styled by volunteers. Anyone by appointment can come in, try on the wigs and take one home for free. For patients like Brayfield and Turner, the wig bank has proven to be a cut above the rest.

“It’s traumatic for women to lose their hair,” explains Brayfield. “But, the staff at Village Pointe made it not so traumatic. They’ve very sensitive, supportive and put me at ease. I had a really great experience trying on wigs.”

“When I got my new wig, I started to cry,” remembers Turner. “They were so wonderful to me. They have a salon chair, so they’ll cut your hair if you want it a certain way. I’m a firm believer that if you look good, you feel good. I wouldn’t go anywhere else.”

For more information or to donate wigs, call (402) 596-3195.

Please note: we do not accept live hair donations.