The Power Of A Wig
Written by Cheryl Tankersley
My name is Cheryl Tankersley. I was born and raised in Southern California but moved to Richmond almost 30 years ago with my husband’s job. In Richmond, I am the proud owner of Planet Hair. I opened the salon in 1997 as a premier luxury spa (complete with a baby grand piano and a musician to entertain our clients!)
Ten years ago, I became ill with a resistant infection. I had surgery for an infection in the brain and had a PIC line four times a day, for 6 months. At the same time, my husband had a stroke, so we quickly found ourselves in a situation where we had to make some lifestyle changes. We decided to downsize our business and focus just on hair.
About a year after my medical scare, one of my clients (who happened to be one of the top breast cancer radiologist in Richmond) approached me about helping her sister get a wig as she was being treated for lung cancer and would be losing her hair. It was thanks to Dr. Ellen deParades that I found my call.
I have now been working with women with hair loss for 8 years and 90% of my clients are women with cancer. The effects of chemotherapy can be devastating, and I have found that for a woman, losing her hair, is probably the most difficult side effect for them to deal with.
On one hand, “Yes, it is only hair…” but on the other hand, hair loss is an outward manifestation, a reminder of a cancer diagnosis and journey with chemotherapy.
Hollywood has tried to convince us that our femininity is based on our breasts and our hair. When a woman loses both as a result of breast cancer, it can be very devastating to them.
At Planet Hair we have two gorgeous private rooms to allow clients privacy as we work together to make them feel beautiful and happy despite their circumstance. I carefully select everything down to the music that is played in the room, to make their experience the most comfortable for them at this time. I provide a free 1-hour consultation to give them education on “what to expect and when to expect the hair loss to begin.” I teach them about the different types of wigs and the benefits and drawbacks of each type and we have fun while making their selection.
When the hair is beginning to fall out and they are ready to shave, we have them come back in. That is when I shave their head and fit and customize their wig. Depending upon their frame of mind on that day, I sometimes will entertain them with a Mohawk cut, complete with pink, purple or lime green spray paint before we actually shave the head. I try and make this experience as comfortable as possible for each patient.
Below is a collage of pictures of a sample of the incredible women I’ve had the privilege of serving. I wanted to share with you the diversity of their ages, their lifestyles and that the majority of these women, do not have a pre- existing genetic disposition for breast cancer.
I feel like I am doing what I was called to do. Thank you for the opportunity to do whatever I can to be a blessing to women. Whether it be through a simple 2 oz wig, a tight hug or holding their hand and crying along with them and assuring them that they too are a warrior, I am honored to be there for them.
“Together, we CAN make a difference!”