Wig boutique for cancer patients opens at Marshfield Medical Center-Rice Lake

Updated: Jan. 3, 2023 at 5:30 PM CST
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RICE LAKE, Wis. (WEAU) - In Marshfield Medical Center-Rice Lake’s Cancer, a new boutique is open.

“Cancer’s a thief, it takes a lot away from people,” Oncology social worker Holly Fitzgerald said. “Hair loss is one of them.”

What’s offered at the boutique? Wigs, for cancer patients experiencing hair loss from treatments.

“It’s very difficult to look in the mirror at yourself when you look really, really different,” Fitzgerald said. “So having that ability to look normal again and to feel normal again, boost their self-confidence and self-esteem.”

Fitzgerald says the wigs are available free of charge.

“They can keep them as long as they want,” Fitzgerald said. “I think some people underestimate how long they may need one. It does take a long time for their hair to grow back.”

Chandra Harmon is a nurse and a cancer survivor.

“I went through treatments, did not lose my hair from that but I have experienced hair loss,” Harmon said. “So I can understand how that makes a person feel.”

Harmon says having a wig boutique inside the hospital is a wonderful idea.

“Sometimes a patient wants to look like themselves, so you can’t tell they’re going through treatments,” Harmon said.

Fitzgerald says getting a wig is a personal choice.

“Some people are not interested and other people just want to see what could it do for them,” Fitzgerald said. “A lot of people are interested in it for like the privacy part of it, hair loss is really an ultimate indicator of a cancer diagnosis.”

She adds just having the boutique opens doors for options.

“Do they work? Is there any big events coming up? We see a lot of people get wigs for like weddings or do they have small kids? Sometimes that’s just a motivator to get a wig so the small kids see mom normal,” Fitzgerald said.

Knowing firsthand how far one has to travel and the financial burden finding a wig can bring, Harmon hopes the boutique can bring some piece of mind.

“It’s tough to be looking for that, not only when you feel good, but if you are not feeling well from treatments or whatnot,” Harmon said.

If a wig isn’t quite the route you want to take, there are other options available.

“Instead of just wigs is hats, you know, if somebody really is not interested in a wig, maybe because of the way it feels, more people like that hair just because it’s a little bit more comfortable,” Fitzgerald said. “We have some makeup, we have some eyelashes, we have some things like that to just kind of make them feel and look good.”

The boutique will offer a one-on-one experience.

“I think all together we’re going to train three people, three staff members,” Fitzgerald said.

Harmons says that will be great for patients and staff.

“You have a certain kind of heart when you work in oncology and I think it’s going to be great for patients to work one on one with the people that they see every day,” Harmon said.

The wig boutique is available to patients when they come in for treatments or appointments to make it more convenient. If a patient hasn’t lost their hair yet but may be anticipating it, they can still top in to see if a wig is something they’d be interested in.