A healthy living blog from Marshfield Clinic Health System

Wig boutique offers hope, confidence

photo of Janice Janusz with Kim Angell and Mike Smith

For some patients going through cancer treatment, wigs can help them better handle hair loss from an emotional standpoint. Pictured is Janice Janusz (center), a volunteer who spearheaded the creation of the Shine On Boutique. She’s standing with Kim Angell and Mike Smith, who provided grant funding.

Janice Janusz didn’t lose her hair during cancer treatment five years ago, but she’s deeply aware of the emotional turmoil it causes many others.

That’s why when she saw a box of used wigs tucked away in the Marshfield Clinic Oncology Department – where she has volunteered since 2014 – she took action.

Fast-forward several months. With the support of a grant from Michael Smith Ameriprise of Stevens Point, Janusz and a team from the Clinic launched the Shine On Boutique, where professionally cleaned, previously worn wigs are available free of charge to women (If male wigs are donated, these will be available for men).

“You don’t find a cause, a cause finds you,” said Janusz, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2010. “There were so many people who were there for me, and I want to pay it forward. Kindness is a very empowering thing.”

Wigs, fittings and more

Along with previously worn wigs – professionally cleaned and styled by Sara Mercer at Hair on Eighth in Marshfield – Shine On Boutique has dozens of color swatches, hair loss information, wig information and can help with sizing and ordering if you want a new wig.

Janusz, who volunteers in the boutique, learned how to properly size wigs through the American Cancer Society’s training seminar. All previously worn wigs and services in the Shine On Boutique are free of charge. It relies on wig donations to sustain itself.

“It’s for anyone,” Janusz said. “We have stocking caps for men, and a tote with turbans, too, all for no charge.”

‘She felt human again’

The decision to wear or forego a wig during cancer treatment is tremendously personal. For some, a wig isn’t the right choice. For others, it’s an emotional game changer during treatment.

Mindy Gribble, a registered nurse and survivorship coordinator with Marshfield Clinic Health System Cancer Care and Research, said that for many women, hair loss is more difficult to manage than the treatment itself.

“I often hear, ‘Mindy, I could handle the radiation; I could handle the chemo; but when I lost my hair it felt real. That’s when my cancer became public,’” Gribble said.

Janusz certainly can appreciate the profound impact hair loss can have on anyone undergoing cancer treatment.

“The wig is like another ray of hope,” Janusz said. “One woman took her cap off and said she felt human again as she walked out with her wig on.”

photo of Janice's Shine On wig boutique

The Shine On Boutique offers patients the opportunity to try on and select previously used wigs. Sizing, ordering assistance and other accessories also are available.

A personal, private experience

The boutique is tucked into a cozy, remodeled room in the oncology department at Marshfield Clinic’s Marshfield campus. The boutique allows for as private of an experience as a person may choose.

Often, though, when women begin trying on the wigs, it turns into a light, enjoyable group activity, helping take their minds – even for a brief moment – off the underlying seriousness of it all.

“Getting that wig gives them a little bit of control over that hair loss,” said Janusz. “They can get any color and style it the way they want.”

For more information call 715-221-7687.

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