By the nature of its side effects, cancer treatment can make a private battle a very public affair. For a woman with cancer, having a bald head, pale skin or a missing breast can make her feel like she's being targeted by a bright spotlight and a banner that says, "Cancer patient."
But now more than ever, there are improved resources for women that will put the spotlight back on their work, their accomplishments and their life—and change that banner to simply read, "Woman."
Lauren Fahrenhorst is the owner of Jena Creations Limited, which has been in the wig business for more than 30 years, with a large percentage of clients coming becaue of a cancer diagnosis. Fahrenhorst has been in charge for the last five at the business, located in a medical office building sandwiched between Missouri Baptist Hospital and Mercy St. Louis Hospital. She told Patch much has changed since your grandparents first started looking at them in the 1960s and 70s. For one thing the use of synthetic products has expanded, which is good because human hair lacks the ability to be as easily styled.
They're lighter, and come in different styles, say with a hat and a ponytail only, or with bangs.
Fahrenhorst said insurance coverage has expanded over time, allowing women to be able to have more than one if they want, although hospital programs and voucher options are available if people are in financial need.
She has several tips for women who may have need for a wig as a result of chemotherapy:
- Bring a picture or a swatch of hair if you come in after you've lost your hair.
- Don't come alone.
"There is a lot of emotion. Some women aren’t ready to come in when they come in and that doesn’t work either so its really a good idea also to bring somebody with you, wether it’s a friend or family member," she said. "Most women need some support when they come in and to feel like there’s somebody that knows how they want to look."
Fahrenhorst said that person who comes along should be there for levity, but also to be a sounding board for what the customer wants. Her goal is to have women who come in without a smile on their face have one when they leave.
She also suggests cancer patients check out Look Better, Feel Better programs like the ones offered by the Siteman Cancer Center
With October having wide recognition as Breast Cancer Awareness Month, does she see more business during the month? No.
"Cancer doesn’t have a good or a bad month, it’s just a continual need unfortunately," she said.