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Local cosmetologist styles wigs for cancer patients

Candy Pollard, with some of the wigs in her wig bank.

Candy Pollard, with some of the wigs in her wig bank. Photo by Shawn Ryan.

— For women going through cancer treatment, a wig can be the first step to feeling good again.

But getting the wig is only half the battle. Like natural hair, a wig needs to be styled to fit the individual wearer. There is no “one size fits all” wig.

Candy Pollard, a cosmetologist at Zeina’s Salon in Plattsburgh has been cutting and styling wigs for cancer patients for over 20 years. For most of that time she was a volunteer with the American Cancer Society’s Look Good, Feel Better program, but has recently stepped aside to allow some “new blood” into the program.

When she first got involved in Look Good, Feel Better, it was because she had family, friends and clients who were all going through cancer, and wanted to find a way to help them and the community.

“I still do the wigs,”Pollard said. “And I give them a 20 percent discount, because I’m not here to make money off them. I just want to render a service.”

Physicians will typically write a cancer patient a prescription for a “cranial prosthesis,” the medical term for a wig. The woman would then pay out of pocket for the wig, and seek reimbursement through her insurance company.

“I’ve never had it not fly in all the years that I have done it,” Pollard says of the reimbursement process. “In this day and age who is going to have a wig unless you’re someone who really needs it.”

Then comes the most important step in the process: the cut and styling. Wigs come with a fairly generic styling, and have to be cut to the individual woman’s face. Pollard says she cuts very gingerly, because once its cut, there’s no going back. She would rather cut a little bit, and let the client see how she feels about it, than cut too much and regret it later.

“They pay for one haircut and one haircut only, I don’t care if it takes 10 times to get it right.”

With a good wig and a good cut, Pollard says, it will not look like the woman is wearing a wig at all.

Pollard can be reached at Zeina’s Salon and Day Spa, at 561-5958.

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