Local spa offers hope for cancer patients

RALEIGH, NC Surveys show, aside from death, what women fear most from the disease is hair loss. Now there's a program making custom wigs for patients that look just like their real hair along with some TLC and even financial aid.

Earlier this year, Sandy Durham of Wake Forest was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma. "You never think it can happen to you," Sandy said, but like many patients she worried about her appearance just as much as her health.

"I was scared," Sandy said. "I didn't know what I was going to look like. I didn't know if I was going to have hair on half my side and not the other side. All kinds of stuff runs through your mind." But Sandy didn't worry long. Her oncology nurse at Duke University Medical Center told her about Marti Jenkins.

The owner of Sheer Bliss Day Spa in Durham was launching a hair service for cancer patients after seeing too many clients struggle to find real-looking wigs.

Marti Jenkins explains, "They'd spent anywhere from $350 to $400 on this wig and they came to me and said help me, Marti please help me. Marti, it doesn't look like me. It's too much hair, it wasn't the right color."

Marti met with Sandy before she lost her hair, and then worked with a New York wig maker to create what Sandy calls her "new hair." Sandy says when her real hair started falling out - knowing Marti had the wig ready softened the blow. "I knew that I could call her and that it would be okay," Sandy said.

"You know they've been diagnosed and now that we've taken care of their hair, they don't have to worry about that," Marti said. "They can focus on getting well and that's what I wanted to accomplish."

Sandy believes Marti's help with her hair helped her heal. After months of chemo, the cancer's gone and even though her hair is still gone, it doesn't bother her a bit. "This looks just like my hair. You'd be surprised how close it is and people I work with today still say, I like your hair, you have it fixed real nice today," she said as she laughed.

The wigs or so called "new hair" Marti has custom-made is high quality with a high price tag of $500 to $700. Because health insurance doesn't always cover the cost, she's created a non-profit program to help patients pay the bill.

For more information log onto sheer-blissdayspa.com.

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