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An Appointment at a Special Boutique

Anna Panteles (above, center) is thrilled with her new wig, courtesy of the American Cancer Society (ACS). Sharing in her joy are (l.-r.) Suzanne Brody, Patient & Family Services Manager, Nassau Region, ACS; Megan Stewart, Winthrop Intern; Maria Antonelli, ACS Volunteer; and Denise Portalatin, Manager, Community Outreach at Winthrop.
“Up until today there have been no smiles,” said Ricki Frydman, a cancer patient who has endured many draining doctor visits, is preparing to start chemotherapy treatments and is now smiling thanks to the American Cancer Society’s (ACS) Wig Boutique sponsored by Winthrop-University Hospital.

While Ms. Frydman realizes that she will likely lose her hair as a side effect of chemotherapy, her visit to the free Wig Boutique was the most encouraging appointment she’s had in weeks. For women, aside from the physical and emotional toll that cancer and its treatment takes, hair loss is especially tough, and the range of emotions they may feel as they lose their hair can be overwhelming. To help cancer patients deal with the emotional impact of losing their hair, ACS offers free wigs to all cancer patients experiencing hair loss through a number of wig banks nationwide.

Thanks to a collaboration between Winthrop-University Hospital and the American Cancer Society, patients have the opportunity to “shop” at Winthrop’s Wig Boutique every week at The Winthrop Welcome Center, located at 1300 Franklin Avenue, Garden City.

Winthrop-University Hospital is currently the only site of an ACS Wig Boutique in Nassau County. All cancer patients are eligible to receive a brand new wig provided by ACS at this boutique, regardless of where they are being treated.

“Winthrop is honored to host an ACS Wig Boutique,” said Denise Portalatin, Manager, Community Outreach at Winthrop, who collaborated with ACS in January 2011 to bring the Wig Boutique to Winthrop. “It’s tough to see cancer patients arriving for their wig fitting with low morale. But it’s the greatest feeling to see them walk out with a wig and a great big smile.”

“Seeing the transformation in patients before and after their wig selection is amazing,” said Suzanne Brody, Patient and Family Services Manager in the Nassau Region of the American Cancer Society. “It is completely gratifying for me. We are very thankful to Winthrop for allocating time and space for this boutique.”

The Wig Boutique is set up to offer each patient privacy as they select their favorite wig from a vast assortment. Patients receive a one-on-one consultation and wig fitting with a specially trained ACS volunteer. After a wig is selected, volunteers teach patients how to care for and style their wigs.

Another patient who recently visited Winthrop’s Wig Boutique, Anna Panteles, fell in love with the second wig she tried on with the help of Ms. Brody; Megan Stewart, Winthrop Intern; and Maria Antonelli, ACS Wig Bank Volunteer. The women were so much of a help to Ms. Panteles that she joked about adopting all three as daughters and offered a helping hand for future Wig Boutiques.

Very encouraged, Ms. Panteles looked in the mirror and said, “I will never forget this day.”

The Wig Boutique is open by appointment only. To schedule an appointment for a free wig fitting, call the American Cancer Society at 1-800-227-2345.
Vol. 21, No. 2
Fall 2011

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