For cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy and the accompanying hair loss, it may feel like they are losing a part of who they are. Although losing one’s hair is difficult, finding a way to express one’s personal style can be liberating for many. Whether wearing a wig, donning a head wrap or choosing to show off one’s beautiful head without a covering, every cancer patient—no matter which hospital is treating them—can visit MemorialCare Orange Coast Medical Center’s vast wig bank and choose a free wig and head covering such as a wrap, baseball cap, knitted hat or beanie.
“Orange Coast Medical Center has the largest wig bank for cancer patients in Orange County with 5,000-8,000 wigs,” says Suellen Skow, Cancer Program Operations Services, MemorialCare Orange Coast Medical Center. “Women undergoing cancer treatment who are experiencing hair loss can book an appointment for a wig-fitting consultation with a trained American Cancer Society volunteer.”
The wig bank was started at a local hospital in the mid-90s, but in 2006, the wig bank moved to the MemorialCare Cancer Institute at Orange Coast Medical Center. In addition to the wig bank, the MemorialCare Cancer Institute includes a Cancer Resource Center with a library of books; many brochures on cancers, treatments and nutrition; and a caring staff and volunteers.
Orange Coast Medical Center is also the only hospital in Orange County to offer the Look Good Feel Better global cancer support program, which teaches cancer patients how to manage the appearance-related side effects of cancer treatment, says Skow.
We believe it is so important for patients undergoing cancer treatment to take time to treat themselves with an uplifting class that can provide a sense of camaraderie, support and an opportunity to pamper themselves with lessons on skin and beauty treatments
The Look Good Feel Better program offers cancer patients a forum where they can receive instruction on skin and nail care, cosmetics, wigs and turbans, accessories and styling from volunteer beauty professionals. Currently, Look Good Feel Better classes are offered virtually with free makeup available for participants with a site referral code from Orange Coast’s Cancer Program representatives. Soon, the classes will return to being in-person.
The wig bank and services at the Cancer Resource Center at the MemorialCare Cancer Institute at Orange Coast Medical Center had quite an impact on cancer patient Patti Lee, 68, who used these services and wanted to spread the word and help others by knitting head wraps and beanies, Skow says. To date, she has made over 100 beanies and about 75 head wraps for the wig bank and her fellow patients. She accomplished much of this while receiving chemotherapy infusions.
“Having one of our cancer patients so engaged and committed to helping others while undergoing treatment herself has been a true inspiration,” Skow says. “We were so happy that Patti was able to benefit from the wig bank and Cancer Resource Center when she needed those services. Now, to see her contributing and spreading the word about the Cancer Resource Center, has been a blessing.”
For more information about the program, please call (714) 378-7600.