Free wig event for cancer patients aims to ‘bring joy’

‘We know firsthand the expense of buying a wig while undergoing treatment for cancer’

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: August 31, 2023.

Nancy Frazier has done plenty of wig fittings over the past 30 years, often helping those who have lost their hair due to cancer treatments.

She will use her skills, honed as the founder of Studio Seven in Washington, Pa., on Sept. 7 at a free wig-fitting event for cancer patients. And her beauty bag contains more than scissors. If someone in her chair seems uncomfortable, she’ll whip off her own wig — she suffers from hair loss herself — to put them at ease.

“It just makes them feel more relaxed,” she said, adding that she had breast cancer, and a resultant double mastectomy, but, fortunately, didn’t require chemotherapy. “People say I’m helping them, but it’s a feel-good for me.”

Frazier, who also does virtual classes through the AHN Cancer Institute’s Care & Cosmetics program, was enlisted for the event by North Huntingdon-based Faith & Gratitude, a nonprofit founded in 2017 by Lori Ball, an ovarian cancer survivor. Frazier donated “dozens of gorgeous wigs,” Ball noted in an email.

“We know firsthand the expense of buying a wig while undergoing treatment for cancer,” Ball said.

What is new for Faith & Gratitude: This is the group’s first wig event.

While not quite in the usual F&G wheelhouse — the nonprofit has hosted educational speakers as well as a bi-monthly, online “compassion circle” support group — it’s not so far afield, either.

“It’s an example of us helping cancer patients in our area feel empowered. This is to have them walk away and think, ‘This was a good day,’” said Kathy Alexander, a longtime friend of Ball’s and a Faith & Gratitude partner from the beginning. “We’re going to bring joy. We’re going to have healthy tea and snacks and flowers everywhere.”

The by-appointment wig fitting — register at — is being held at the UPMC Hillman Cancer Center, 5115 Centre Ave., Shadyside.

Faith & Gratitude sprang from a desire to offer information about integrative health as a supplement to traditional cancer treatment, which, in part, takes the form of a free guide — which is not the dainty pamphlet recipients often expect, but a weighty binder filled with resources, Alexander said.

“Our big picture is that we’re complementing physicians, we’re trying to help people going through treatment to strengthen their mind, body and spirit,” Alexander said. “Because it really is wearing on the immune system, and a lot of people don’t have a support system to rely on.”