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Wig Bank a 'salvation'

October 19, 2010

For some, a wig is simply a head covering.
But for others, the hair piece, be it blond, brunette, long, cropped or curly, is a salvation.
"You're uncertain about what your life is going to be like (after a cancer diagnosis)," said cancer survivor Janet Weaver. "And then you're sitting there bald. But once you put on that wig and a little bit of makeup, you feel human again. Having a wig is like a salvation. You can be normal again."
Weaver, 58, of Hickory, is one of hundreds of women who benefitted from the Catawba County Wig Bank since the organization opened about a year and a half ago.
The Wig Bank offers scarves, wigs, hats and head coverings for women undergoing cancer treatment or suffering from an illness that causes them to lose their hair. The bank also gives women bras and breast prostheses after mastectomies.
All services are provided at no charge to the patient.
"We're not going to turn anyone away," said Wig Bank volunteer Glenda Verbos, who is also a breast cancer survivor. "We want to help everyone."
The Wig Bank relies on donations from the community to continue providing services. The bank donates about 8-10 wigs to patients every month, Verbos said, and they couldn't do it without support from the community.
"We wish we could go out of business," said volunteer Kathy Daniel. "We wish no one ever had to deal with cancer."
Until cancer is cured, however, the Wig Bank will continue supporting cancer patients through support and its outreach program, Daniel said.
Patients are referred to the Catawba County Wig Bank through their health care providers or through recommendations from friends and family.
"It's very important for your self-confidence," Weaver said. "It's not two weeks or a month that you're without hair (during cancer treatment). It can be up to a year or even longer."
The Wig Bank, however, is more than a place to try on wigs and scarves -- it's a support system.
"It's the fact that I've been there before," Verbos said of sharing her cancer experience with others at the Wig Bank. "I feel like I can help them with what they're going through."
Wig Bank volunteers also refer patients to other breast cancer awareness and support groups, such as Feel Good ... Look Better, a service that helps cancer patients learn how to style their wigs and apply makeup.
The Catawba County Breast Cancer Coalition will host a Pink Tea on Saturday for Breast Cancer Survivors. The tea will be held at First United Methodist Church in Conover at 3 p.m. and will include a speaker, door prizes and refreshments.
The Wig Bank, located at 437 Main Ave. SW in Hickory, is open Tuesdays and Thursday from 1-4 p.m.
"(Cancer) is a horrible thing to have to go through," Daniel said. "But if you've got to go through it, you've got to do it with friends."
When Weaver came into the Wig Bank several months ago in search of a new wig for her daughter's wedding, she said the volunteers helped her find exactly what she wanted.
A new wig wasn't the only thing Weaver took with her after leaving the Wig Bank. She also left with a new-found confidence.
"They make you feel good about yourself and tell you how pretty you look," Weaver said. "I just felt really good about myself when I left. It's just like they're selling you a dress."
For more information about the Catawba County Wig Bank or to make a donation, contact Brenda Putnam at (828) 326-2176.

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