Saturday, November 13, 2010

Wigged Out

I never thought that moving to the greater Dayton area in Ohio would be putting me in the netherworld as far as wigs go. At least it seems that way.

When I first had chemo in 1994, I was blessed to have been referred to a wonderful wig guy in Hartford, CT. In fact, I went to two shops, but the second was...a little odd. You went to his place which was ONLY by appointment. You were his only customer when you went. When I went to the other place, people were coming in for hair extensions, etc. I had one other cancer patient who was actually younger than I was. While we were there, someone else came in who couldn't understand why the two of us were imperative about getting a good wig, one which suited us, at a price we could afford and ASAP. So, when I went to this other guy's place, I found it much better.

He spent a lot of time and found this wig, which wasn't cheap. It is a synthetic wig, but a high quality one. It matched my real hair perfectly...and while it is hard for most people to fit wigs while you still have hair, he did a good job. He also hand stitched the netting and made adjustments so it was a perfect fit and was comfortable.

When I had cancer the second time around, I had saved my wig which was a good thing. The insurance company, a major one, had stopped paying for wigs for chemo patients because it was cosmetic. So, I went back to the wig guy and he styled it for me again and I was good to go. Because I was stage IV, I kept the I didn't want to be without it if I needed it again.

Fast forward to now...13 years later. I still have the wig, but since I'm a lot older, I thought I should have it styled a bit shorter. I also wanted to wash it. In looking at it, I noticed that I had some singeing...obviously from opening an oven door while wearing it, another reason to get a trim.

I needed to get some wig shampoo because I needed to wash it, after all, it probably had dust in it and I didn't wash it very much when I did wear it because every time you wash it, you shorten the lifespan of the wig. They usually suggest washing it about every 2 weeks if you wear it for 10 - 12 hours a day, and I didn't wear it that much. Washing must be done with wig shampoo (products for human hair don't work well...think of what happens to baby doll's hair when their mini-moms wash them ). Wig brushes should also be used, and when not worn, they should be kept on a wig stand which is ventilated. Mine is a wire one. The openness, rather than a styro-foam head, allow the wig to breathe and dry out as your head sweats.

I called around trying to find some wig go. I'm going to check at one place which sells wigs and mastectomy items....but we'll see. I wasn't too impressed with that aspect of this place when I was there last. I loved one salon's response "take it back to where you got it from." I'd love too. Too bad it's in Connecticut.

I finally got someone who would cut it....but it's a professional hair stylist, something some people advise not to do, but there's a dearth of people who will do it around here. Ask around. Try to find someone who has experience and is trained in working with wigs. Hopefully, I'll be able to add some curl to the bottom of my wig again so it turns under as a page boy should...only this time it is about 4" shorter.

The hairstylist suggested buying a wig with substantial human hair...the only problem is that I don't think she's aware of how expensive human hair wigs are. I still think that getting the most expensive wig you can afford is probably the best bet--they will probably look the best. Check with your oncologist for suggestions. Call the local chapter of the American Cancer Society to see if they can suggest something.

The American Cancer Society has a catalog called T.L.C. which has a variety of wigs and artificial hair in a wide range of prices . Check here. They also carry a lot of hats and lingerie items for lumpectomy and mastectomy patients.

For more on wig care, look at these websites: Feke Wigs and Ace Wigs. Go to an American Cancer Society's "Look Good, Feel Better Program." They will give you more tips about the care of wigs, using cosmetics (including a lot of samples which are very helpful) and also ideas about using hats, scarves etc. It's a great program and is free of charge to cancer patients.

And try not to bake with your wig isn't pretty when the tips melt. :)

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