The right haircut, style and color can go a long way in making a woman feel good and have more confidence in herself.
As a former beautician at All In One Hair Care in Seymour, Patty Maschino, 67, made a career of making her clients look good so they felt better.
But when Maschino was diagnosed with colorectal cancer in 2006, her career turned into a mission to help people fight back against the visual and emotional side effects of undergoing treatment, mainly hair loss.
In 2008, she began working with the American Cancer Society in Indianapolis and started a wig bank at the salon.
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The wigs were provided by the cancer society and were made available free to any woman who was experiencing hair loss or thinning of hair because of chemotherapy and radiation treatment.
“They asked me to do it, and I said that was no problem, and they sent me a bunch of wigs,” Maschino said.
Maschino also became certified through the American Cancer Society to offer a makeup class to women with cancer.
The free Look Good, Feel Better program teaches women going through cancer treatment different skin care and makeup techniques, including how to draw in natural-looking eyebrows with an eyebrow pencil and use mascara on thinning eyelashes.
Maschino has battled colorectal cancer for nearly a decade. Before that, she had thyroid cancer.
“It won’t go away. I’ve had chemo and radiation,” she said. “It’s something that’s going to take my life, but I don’t think about that.”
Although she didn’t lose her hair completely, Maschino said she did wear a wig because her hair got so thin with what patients call “chemo hair.”
“It was brittle and breaking,” she said.
Having a wig allowed her to go out and do things with others without worrying about how she looked, Maschino said. She knew if it worked for her, it could help improve the quality of life for many women going through the same hardship.
“It made me feel normal,” she said.
She didn’t do it for herself, however, but for those she knew who were fighting cancer.
“My sister-in-law had lung cancer and had chemo and radiation and lost her hair,” Maschino said. “And she was the first recipient of a wig from us. That’s how it all started, and we started to get the word out to people.”
Word of mouth is how the salon advertised the wig bank.
When retired beautician Joann Davidson heard about what Maschino was doing, she decided she wanted to get involved. She was one of the first people to get certified with Maschino to lead the Look Good, Feel Better program.
Davidson, 87, has battled breast cancer three times since 2000 and also is a wig recipient. She said helping other women learn how to apply their makeup while undergoing treatment is one small thing she can do to make it easier for them. It also makes her feel good inside, she said.
“It lifts their spirits,” she said. “They look in the mirror and say, ‘Oh my! That looks pretty good,’ and they’re happy with how they look. And it makes us feel good because we’ve made someone happy.”
Since the early days of the program, the services have grown by “leaps and bounds,” said salon owner Allie Dooley.
Due to her own illness, Maschino was forced to retire in 2014, but Dooley and Christy Newkirk, one of six other stylists at All In One Hair Care, decided they wanted to continue what Maschino had started.
“There’s times when we’ll have up to 20 people a month, and I know there would be more because of those 20, 15 of them didn’t even know about the wig bank,” Dooley said.
In the past, the wigs have always been stored in a back room, but recently, Dooley and Newkirk decided to display them more prominently in the salon. That way, more people would know about the wig bank and could help spread the word.
Wigs are available in different colors, lengths, textures and styles to fit all ages of women from young to old. Dooley and Newkirk help clients select a wig that best fits their look, cut it if needed and show how to style and take care of it.
But Dooley said there’s something else happening when someone finds “their” wig.
“We could have one person try on 50 wigs, and there’s always going to be that one that when they put it on, they know,” Dooley said. “We don’t know if it’s God’s intervention or if it’s just the way it is, but they put it on and you can just see how their face lights up.”
For many, the cost of a wig is what prevents them from thinking about getting one. Dooley and Newkirk don’t want that to be a barrier for anyone going through cancer.
Dooley has added hats, turbans and scarves, also free, so women have an option to cover their head when they don’t want to wear a wig.
Newkirk said the change she sees in clients when they find their wig is amazing.
And it makes her feel good knowing they are helping others.
But it’s not always easy. Recently, Dooley and Newkirk lost a client who was very special to them.
“She came in to get a wig because her hair had fallen out,” Dooley said. “We told her we could shave her head, but she told us it didn’t matter because she was going to die in two weeks anyway. She just wanted a wig.”
The woman died of her cancer soon after but enjoyed the wig the time she had it, Dooley said.
Like Maschino, Dooley and Newkirk got certified through the American Cancer Society to teach the Look Good, Feel Better classes, which are held at the Don and Dana Myers Cancer Center at Schneck Medical Center in Seymour.
“When we learned Patty was going to retire, we went and got certified to do it,” Dooley said.
The classes are free and are held every other month on the last Monday of the month. The next class is scheduled for 2 p.m. Nov. 28. Anyone interested in signing up can call the American Cancer Society at 800-227-2345 to register.
“Our biggest class, we had four,” Dooley said. “Normally, we have two. Sometimes, people register and get too sick to come and have to wait to come to the next class.”
Each woman receives free makeup kits for attending.
“We have a blast,” Newkirk said of the classes.
Newkirk said providing the wigs and makeup lessons is the most rewarding thing, besides her own kids, that she has done in her life.
“We’re here as a team to help you get through it,” she said.
American Cancer Society certified wig bank
Where: All In One Hair Care, 1126 W. Tipton St., Seymour
Information: Call Allie Dooley or Christy Newkirk at 812-523-6500
Look Good, Feel Better program, free makeup lessons for cancer patients
Where: Don and Dana Myers Cancer Center at Schneck Medical Center in Seymour
When: Last Monday of the month, every other month from 2 to 4 p.m. The next class is Nov. 28.
Register: Call the American Cancer Society at 800-227-2345