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St Pertenburg Times LogoCancer Patients Given Pep Talk
Reprinted from the St. Petersburg Times, Florida, 1985

Mike Gosdzinski Helps Cancer Patients Deal with Hair LossThe 73-year old cancer patient said she has more pictures of the inside of her head than of the outside of her. "Bone cancer is painful, " said Doris, a Palm Harbor resident who asked that her last name not be used. Despite the pain, she said, she puts on a happy face and goes about her life.

A program at Lykes Cancer Center of Morton Plant Hospital on Friday was designed to help people like Doris put on a happy face. Beauty advisors and a wig specialist taught patients how to overcome the hair loss that radiation and chemotherapy cause.

The patients were shown make-up and wardrobe techniques and how to select and groom wigs. For Doris, the program was especially important because she has let only one friend at her apartment complex know she is sick. Doris, who has undergone chemotherapy for bone and lymph system caner, doesn't want anyone else to know. "I don't have very long that I'm going to live," she explained, "and I don't want to spend that time dying." She lost so much hair from therapy that she has to use glue to keep her wig on, she said.

Friday's session began with a videotape show in which a beauty advisor taught how to apply make-up to compensate for loss of eyebrows eyelashes and hair. The show also demonstrated how to use wigs, scarves and hats to conceal baldness.

According to Jane Lyons, who organized the Lykes Center program, hair loss usually starts about two weeks after radiation therapy. The intense heat of radiation in effect burns the hair follicles, she said. In chemotherapy, hair loss occurs because potent chemicals that inhibit cancer growth also damage healthy cells, she said.

A patient's hair usually starts growing back four to six months after therapy, Ms. Lyons said. If may have a finer, softer texture with less body than before, she added. When it falls out, it comes out in handfuls. "that was the most devastating of all of it," said Penny Glenn, a 46-year-old woman who was wearing a blond wig Friday.

Micheal Gosdzinski applies makeup to Penny Glenn.Mrs. Glenn, who has had a mastectomy, has four months to go in a six-month program of chemotherapy. Her hair came out "in waste bucketfuls" about a month after her therapy began, she said. She made an appointment to be fitted for a wig on Saturday, the wig was ordered, "and by the following Saturday I really needed it," she said.

Mrs. Glenn said her hair used to be dark brown but that when she realized she would need a wig, she decided "I'm going to have a good time with it." "I decided to see if blonds have more fun," she added. "They do."

The patients spoke while Burdines beauty advisers Ginny Blackwood and Yiota Shields, and Designs Unlimited owner Michael Gosdzinski applied make-up to them and advised on wigs and other headwear. Gosdzinski operates a wig bank for chemotherapy patients. Through the wig bank, people can donate or receive wigs, he said.

Gayfers, Iver's, Maas Brothers and Robinson's department stores in addition to Burdines are supplying advisers for the program, which is held free of charge on the second Friday of each month. The program is open to men as well as women.

"When we look in the mirror and look good, we feel so much better," Ms Lyons said.


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