One of the most surprising moments for patients undergoing cancer treatment is how they feel when they lose their hair. Many think to themselves, the cancer diagnosis and treatment is difficult enough; now this?
When Georgiana Rodriguez was diagnosed with breast cancer, she received life-saving chemotherapy, mastectomy, radiation therapy and other treatments through the Samaritan Cancer Program. But she still needed help dealing with the physical changes that occur during cancer treatment, such as losing her hair.
Through the Samaritan Cancer Resource Center, she was able to access care and psycho-social support that is crucial to health and healing, such as nutritional counseling, wig fitting and a scarf-tying class. All of the center’s offerings are provided free, due to generous contributions from organizations like the Springhill Women’s Association, Soroptimist International of Albany, and the Oregon Paint Horse Association, among many others.
“I discovered I was more of a scarf and hat kind of gal,” said Rodriguez, who lives in Albany with her husband and teenage son. “The scarf-tying class was really useful.”
With her head covering chosen, it was easier to go about her day-to-day work of healing. But cancer had another cruel surprise in store.
“When I lost my eyebrows, I felt like my face was expressionless,” she said. Of chemotherapy’s many outward side effects, this one was the toughest to adjust to.
Rodriguez turned again to the Samaritan Cancer Resource Center, this time taking part in Look Good Feel Better — a national program offered locally that uses makeup and other tools to help improve self-esteem and quality of life for anyone undergoing treatment for cancer.
Through the volunteer-led class, Rodriquez was able to learn techniques for drawing in eyebrows during her treatment. Like many patients who utilize the center, it was feeling normal again — normal as in “before cancer” — that restored the energy she needed to get through cancer treatment.
Rodriquez completed her cancer journey late in 2013, and her eyebrows and thick curls have grown back. No longer in need of headscarves and other cancer-related supplies, Rodriquez opted to donate them back to the Samaritan Cancer Resource Center where they could be restored and used by others on their journeys through cancer treatment.
“People who have lost their hair from cancer treatment are able to come to us, free of charge,” said Jayne Glaser, coordinator for the Samaritan Cancer Resource Center. “Patients are so grateful. They just want to feel normal, and because of donations, we can help them.”
Kay’s World of Wigs in Salem has been donating to the Samaritan Cancer Resource Center for several years, recently providing a variety of 136 gently used wigs and several head scarves.
“The wigs are all in very good condition,” said Glaser, who cleans and restores donated head coverings, displaying many of them at the Center’s salon.
For information on how to access services available at the Samaritan Cancer Resource Center, call 541-812-5888 or visit samhealth.org/SCRC.