Providing Appearance: Wigs n’ More Helps Cancer Patients Cope

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Pittsburgh cancer store

In her personal life and in her work, Kathy Hendrickson has close experience with the devastating effects of the cancer -- specifically, the disease’s effect on the confidence and self-esteem of women.

A certified cosmetologist and prosthetic fitter, Hendrickson purchased Wigs n’ More in 1991.  The 3,000 square-foot boutique (now in its 25th year in business) caters to cancer patients and other customers with personal needs, featuring a variety of bras, wigs, mastectomy recovery garments, prostheses, compression garments, and - you guessed it - more.  But it’s not the selection that makes the store special.

“Most of us here have family members who have had cancer,” says Hendrickson, referring to her team of 10 employees, which includes 3 Board of Certification (BOC) Accredited Fitters . “Everyone has to have a heart to work here.”

That’s because at Wigs n’ More, an employee’s relationship with their customer often extends beyond a single visit.  If someone comes in and they have brain cancer, they might come in once or twice to buy wigs.  But for a breast cancer patient, they might frequent the store for the rest of their life.

“We’re providing them every few months with new bras and new products,” she says.  Wigs n’ More is even accredited according to Medicare guidelines, which means with a prescription for a certain products, health insurance will cover the purchase.  “If a woman has a mastectomy, or a lumpectomy or reconstruction surgery, the insurance will provide the products for them for the rest of their lives.  The women get taken care of."

The boutique also holds monthly classes for its clientele, which are sponsored by Look Good, Feel Better.  The group organizes programs nationwide with the goal of improving the self-esteem and well-being of people undergoing cancer treatment.

Hendrickson is careful to point out that the selection available at her store isn’t simply pragmatic.  It’s stylish - with a catalog that features a range of high fashion bras, wigs, and other products designed to meet not only the physical needs of their customers, but their emotional needs as well.  In fact, Wigs n’ More offers apparel and services for anybody, including fashion bras and bridal party services.  “Of course we see some sad faces come through our doors, but we see a lot of happy faces here, too,” she says.

“I’ve never had cancer.  But if I had cancer, I’d want to be treated how we treat every customer who walks through this door.  We give their confidence back.  We give them their self-esteem back,” says Hendrickson.