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Thursday, August 28, 2014

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Cancer victim’s spouse creates wig-stand project

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Wig-stand creator Allan Cooper and Heather Hardie, the manager of volunteer services at Princess Margaret Hospital, attend a wig-stand judging contest.

Allan Cooper initiated a wig-stand project to benefit cancer victims in memory of his late wife, Helen Louise, an educator and community volunteer.

She was diagnosed with lymphedema and inflammatory breast cancer in 2011 and died a year and half later.

Cooper, a retired lawyer who is a member of the Woodturners Guild of Ontario (WGO) and Toronto Woodturners Guild (TWG), said that while undergoing months of treatment for cancer, Helen lost hair and needed to wear a wig. 

“My late wife had an interest in wood-turning and often attended the wood-turning meetings with me,” he said.

He added that because of the treatments and care she received at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre’s Odette Cancer Centre and the palliative care unit there, “she lived her life with dignity and without the pain from which she would otherwise have suffered.

“I made her a wood wig stand,” Cooper said, “as the usual wig stand is made of light Styrofoam and falls over easily. And they are generally very unattractive.”

He said women with cancer need something cheerful and beautiful to look at when they have to take off or put on their wigs.

“I therefore approached Richard Pikul, the then president of the WGO, and offered to sponsor a competition in our club, where cash prizes would be given and the wig stands would be made by the members. They would be donated to Sunnybrook for the use of cancer patients.”

The success of the project led to a meeting with a representative of the Canadian Cancer Society at Sunnybrook. Wig stands were also donated to the “Look Good Feel Better” program at Princess Margaret Hospital.

“The wig-stand competition has become an annual event which will make it more bearable for women who lose their hair due to chemotherapy,” Cooper said.

“ I hope this project will be taken on by other wood-turning chapters across Canada and the United States.”

 “The wig stands are beautiful and each has its own character. With the donation of a wig stand, each donor is assured that 100 per cent of his or her efforts are directly used by its recipient,” Cooper said.

The wig stands are on display on the lower floor of the Odette Cancer Centre at Sunnybrook and at the “Look Good Feel Better” area at Princess Margaret Hospital.

For more information, call Cooper at 416-223-4445; Zain at 416-946-6596 or go to wig.salon@uhn.on.ca.

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