One beautiful wig — styled, personalized and ready to wear — can be all it takes to turn a breast cancer patient’s life around.
One young teacher in the Memphis, Tennessee, area knows this dramatic truth. “I was just 26 when I was diagnosed last fall,” said Brooxie Davis, a first-grade public school teacher. “That’s pretty young. I was really surprised by it.”
After she understood the course of treatment she’d have to endure, Davis said the next thing that crossed her mind was: “Am I going to lose my hair?”
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Her doctors and medical team eventually explained that yes, because of her chemotherapy treatments, she would unfortunately lose her hair. “It was devastating,” the vibrant young blonde told LifeZette. “I know that true beauty comes from the inside, but for women, our hair is so important to us. It’s part of what makes us unique. And to lose it all … it’s as if our femininity is being attacked.”
Davis, now 27, received her wig in November 2015 from a unique nonprofit called Lolly’s Locks. The group, based in Bethesda, Maryland, provides custom-made wigs for women with cancer who could not otherwise afford them. Since its founding just four years ago in 2012, the group has provided 450 wigs to women in 46 states.
“Our commitment is to a high-quality wig,” said Jaime Wright, the group’s executive director. “We fill a tremendous need gap.”
The young teacher’s aunt had heard about the organization on NBC’s “Today” show. “You should look into it,” her aunt told her.
Davis needed the help. She was just starting out in her career and was in her fourth year of teaching. “Financially I didn’t have the money for a wig,” Davis said. She took her aunt’s advice, looked up Lolly’s Locks online and applied for a wig that would be all her own.
To her relief and surprise, the process moved along quickly. Her cancer was diagnosed in September, she applied for her wig in October and then came the good news.
“The day my hair first started falling out was the day I found out from Lolly’s Locks that I’d be getting a wig,” said Davis.
She was at the medical clinic for a long day of chemotherapy when the call came in. “I had been feeling pretty down that day. When I got the phone call that they had approved my application, I felt such joy, not only for me but for my mom and other people close to me who knew every dark moment I’d been having.”
Just before Thanksgiving, Davis received her very own custom-made wig from Lolly’s Locks. “It was beautiful. It arrived styled and completely ready for me to wear.”
Said Davis, “For me to be able to wear this wig has been a really great experience. Everybody’s not always looking at me like, ‘Oh, something’s wrong with her,’ or giving me that look of sympathy.”
Post-surgery, Davis now takes a chemo pill; little wisps of her hair are finally starting to grow back. “I’ll be on this pill for four months, and after that I’ll have reconstruction. We’ll go from there,” she said.
After a very bumpy road, this young woman is happy to be on a positive path again. “I’m sure that’s the case for a lot of people,” Davis says. “I’m just really grateful for my wig and the confidence Lolly’s Locks is giving women like me who are facing difficult battles and long journeys. They make such a difference. This can really help with the mindset while going through something like this.”
Executive director Wright said her group takes the term “high quality” very seriously. “A high-quality wig means one that fits, is comfortable, is not itchy, and is made of high-quality hair or high-quality fibers, depending on whether it’s made of hair or synthetic fibers.” (The choice of real hair or synthetic fibers exists because the needs of patients differ.)
Most recipients apply online as the first step in a comprehensive process. They must be cancer patients; they must be over 18 years old; and they must demonstrate financial need. “We also ask them to share any extenuating circumstances that they’d like us to consider,” said Wright.
The group then contacts the individuals and fills in any additional information or considerations. Within 24 hours in most cases, said Wright, Lolly’s Locks makes a determination.
“Once someone is granted a wig, we educate them about real hair versus synthetic,” said Wright. “We examine pictures of them, looking at the color of their hair and their cut style. Then we figure out the best wig source for them. We work with the wig source to match the hair as closely as possible.”
Melinda Smith (not her real name) is a single mom in her early 50s from California who was diagnosed with rectal cancer last year. She was told her cancer was terminal, “but she has been hanging in there longer than she was told she would, and she’s still responding well to treatment,” said Wright. “Her biggest complaint was that her 10-year-old son struggled with the idea of his mom not having hair. She dreamed of looking like herself again for him.”
Smith recently received her wig from Lolly’s Locks. “She is over the moon.”
Lolly’s Locks, as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, relies on donations and fundraisers to be able to do what it does. It was founded in honor of a devoted mom and stepmom who passed away from cancer in 2012 — so it is a mission with heart.
Jaime Wright’s own mom is the inspiration behind the organization.
“In the spring of 2012, my mother, Lolly, lost her courageous battle with cancer,” Wright says on her website. “She was the most beautiful woman I have ever known and embodied a truly radiant spirit. While undergoing chemotherapy, she spoke about of how important a high-quality wig was to her emotional and spiritual well-being. Wise and selfless beyond her years, (she) desired to help more women get access to high-quality wigs that are barely covered by insurance.”
To honor that wish, Wright adds, “our family wanted to create something special that would leave a lasting legacy in her name. In memory of my mom and the joy she brought to everyone she touched, we have formed a nonprofit organization, Lolly’s Locks.”
Wright summarizes: “We are committed to the mission of getting high-quality wigs onto the heads of women with cancer who would otherwise not be able to afford them.”