Local salon provides wigs for cancer patients

Published 8:10 pm Tuesday, December 10, 2019

After being diagnosed with breast cancer last June, New Bern nurse Holly Thorton began considering her options for treatment. As she thought over the countless contingencies that come with a cancer diagnosis, one consideration was the potential hair loss that could come with chemotherapy or radiation treatment.

Researching the topic online and in various support groups, a group called Wigs and Wishes stood out to her. Founded by New Jersey stylist Martino Cartier, the group’s mission is to provide wigs for individuals battling cancer. Looking up local Wigs and Wishes representatives in eastern North Carolina brought Thorton to Washington’s Capelli Salon, where owner Lisa Gargaro helped her get a new wig through the nonprofit.

“We met and had the initial consultation,” Thorton recalled. “At that point, I had already lost all of my hair, about halfway through treatment. So she was able to get in contact with the foundation in New Jersey, fitted me for a wig perfectly, was able to style it for me and did everything that needed to be done, start to finish, in one consultation visit.”

Gargaro is no stranger to such visits. She’s been working with cancer patients for more than 20 years, first through the American Cancer Society’s “Look Good, Feel Better” program. In the past year, she’s formed a new partnership with Wigs and Wishes at her salon, in the hope of helping provide wigs for local patients in need.

“Unfortunately, the need for it has grown,” Gargaro said. “There are more and more people reaching out to me … These last eight to 10 years, it’s at least double the amount, if not triple the amount, of people calling and inquiring about (wigs for cancer patients).”

While it costs between $120 and $200 to provide a high-quality wig through the nonprofit, Gargaro donates her time at the salon for the consultation and fitting. So far, she’s provided two people with wigs through Wigs and Wishes, with the hope of doing more. For Thorton, the program has made a tremendous difference in her life.

“It’s still maintaining my physical identity while I’m facing this new, uncharted territory,” Thorton said. “She found a wig that was very close to my same hair color, the texture and the style I would typically wear. That just helped me get up every day and approach the day like nothing was going on. Obviously, there was a lot going on from the inside, but I was able to maintain my physical appearance, which was very important to me. Keeping that normalcy was achieved with Lisa.”

Through Dec. 21, Capelli is holding a drawing to raise money for the salon’s Wigs and Wishes effort. Tickets are $5 each to enter the drawing for two hot-styling tools, a hair dryer and a flat iron with a combined value of $365. Donations can also be made directly to the effort by dropping off a check at the salon made payable to “Wigs and Wishes,” with “Capelli Salon” in the memo line.

To learn more about the Wigs and Wishes, visit www.wigsandwishes.org. Capelli Salon is located at 211 N. Market St. in Washington and can be found on Facebook @capellinc.