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Group collects wigs to be refurbished for cancer patients

POSTED: April 19, 2011 1:30 a.m.
SARA GUEVARA/The Times

Lanier Technical College cosmetology student Brianna Grayson styles a wig Monday that will be used in the second annual A Good Hair Day Wig Drive. The wig drive is sponsored by the Cancer Center at Northeast Georgia Medical Center and the American Cancer Society.

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Even on your worst hair day, there are some people who would gladly trade places with you.

Many cancer patients have had to accept the fact that the treatment helping their health improve is the very thing that is making their hair fall out.

"Hair loss with cancer treatment is sincerely felt as a loss to women," said Lisa Bridges, a registered nurse and breast cancer patient navigator at Northeast Georgia Medical Center.

While some women choose to purchase a wig to camouflage their loss, others find it difficult to cover the expense.

"Women are increasingly out of work due to the economy, which leaves them with no finances to buy a wig," Bridges said.

Last year, to help these women in need, Bridges and Elida Lopez — an American Cancer Society resource navigator — decided to try and get free wigs for the ladies.

"It became clear early on that the need for wigs far outpaced what (we were able to obtain through the American Cancer Society)," Bridges said.

"At the same time, (Lopez) and I had our (cancer survivors) asking us how they could help the women with newly diagnosed cancer."

Out of that grew their "A Good Hair Day Wig Drive," which is sponsored by the cancer society and The Cancer Center at Northeast Georgia. Last year’s drive began in April and culminated at the Relay for Life celebration.

Bridges and Lopez also partnered with Lanier Technical College’s cosmetology department to assist with the wig drive.

"Wig styling is a part of our advanced styling coursework," said Angelia Brown a Lanier Tech cosmetology instructor.

"So to help with the drive, our students cleaned and styled each of the donated wigs."

"When we began the drive, our goal for donations was 25 wigs," Bridges said. "The community generously donated 130 wigs for us to use."

The drive was such a success they decided to host another drive this year.

It is currently under way and will conclude at Relay for Life on June 3. Lanier Tech students will once again be cleaning and re-styling each of the hair pieces.

In addition to "pre-loved" and newly-acquired wigs, the drive organizers are also accepting wig stands and related products.

There are four donation locations around Gainesville, including The Longstreet Cancer Center and the office of Dr. Andrew Green at Southeastern Gynecologic Oncology.

Interested parties will also be able to drop off donations at the actual relay event.

In addition to helping women throughout the community have better hair days, donors can also use their contribution as a tax write off, organizers say.

"We are so grateful to the community for their participation," Lopez said.

"These donations are truly making a difference in the lives of cancer patients."



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