Helping ladies with cancer get a-head after chemotherapy

At least 500 women in Gateshead who have undergone chemotherapy have benefited from a special service which helps provide headwear.

The Headdress service, funded by QE Gateshead Charitable Funds, provides scarves, hats, information and support to women who are losing/have lost their hair as a result of cancer treatments (including chemotherapy).

The service is provided by a dedicated team of trained volunteers, supported by special charity fund and this year is celebrating its 10th anniversary. 

Patients are shown how to tie scarves and a number of ha and scarf combinations as well as receiving information and advice on head and scalp care. Patients are given a free scarf and for a small donation, patients can also take away headwear if they wish.

Former breast cancer patient Denise Lawson has been volunteering with the service from the start and says it makes a difference to the quality of life for women who are undergoing chemo.

When clients arrive, they are feeling just like I did, not wanting to be in the position of having to consider what they are going to do to cover their head.  It is just another part of the whole distressing situation. But then being shown that there are other choices, besides having to wear a wig, makes for a much more positive outlook.  The feedback from clients is wonderful, most of them saying they feel much better about themselves and their situation."

Lesley Roxburgh is 44 and lives in Gateshead and was diagnosed with breast cancer in October 2013. When she was due to start chemotherapy she was advised to go and see one of the volunteers in the Headdress service. She said: “Cancer is one of the most devastating thing that can happen to you. Losing your hair through chemotherapy is a constant visual reminder, especially for a woman. The service provided not only gave practical help with how to tie scarves etc but also support from the volunteers some of whom had been cancer patients themselves. At what was a very daunting time in my life, I remember leaving the Headdress service smiling and feeling positive.”

Lesley previously had long hair and cut it following her diagnosis before she started to lose her hair with the chemotherapy. It has now grown back to a pixie length crop.