A cancer diagnosis is often the start of a confronting and turbulent time. For many people facing cancer, loss of hair due to chemotherapy adds another layer of emotion.
A Royal Adelaide Hospital volunteer service provides an affordable option for women who want to wear a wig or turban following treatment-induced hair loss.
Providing wigs and a listening ear
Isabel has been working as a volunteer at the RAH for 23 years. She is now 91 years old.
“I couldn’t tell you how many women have come into our fitting room, and simply sat down and burst into tears,” Isabel said.
“I offer a good listening ear, and just let them cry.”
“Then when the ladies walk out with a smile on their face, that’s reward enough for me.”
With guidance provided by Isabel and two other volunteers, the service consists of a small, private fitting room with donated, good quality wigs in a range of styles and hair colours.
After paying a $25 up-front fee, women are able to keep their selected wig for as long as they need it, or come back for an exchange if they realise it isn’t suitable.
Women can also purchase hand-made turbans and sleeping caps from the service.
Making a difference
Isabel recalls one patient whose grandchild refused to have anything to do with her due to her changed physical appearance resulting from hair loss.
“I made a turban for the patient, and another smaller one for the child, and their relationship was back on track again,” she said.
The RAH wig and turban service is available to any public patient.
“We get a lot of referrals from the Cancer Council, and often send wigs and turbans through the mail to patients in country areas too,” Isabel said.
The service itself began in 2000, organised by RAH volunteers with support from the Cancer Council and Lions Club International.
Want to know more?
For more information, contact RAH volunteer services.
Telephone: (08) 7074 1240