When faced with a cancer diagnosis, patients are often overwhelmed by the sheer volume of information they receive. It’s a difficult time, filled with tests, medical terminology and, of course, patients having to process the news of their diagnosis themselves and with their loved ones. This, on top of the physical aspects of Cancer treatment, can take its toll on the wellbeing of patients, leaving them feeling scared, confused and emotionally exhausted.

Care beyond the bedside

At Epworth, we recognise that care extends beyond the bedside and have a number of support services, fully funded by our generous donor community, available to patients whilst they are undergoing treatment.

One example is The Wig Salon – a comfortable space for Cancer patients to talk to trained, compassionate volunteers as they try on wigs, scarves and headwear. Patients leave the salon with a personalised bag of products, completely free of charge.

The first Wig Salon opened at Epworth Freemasons in 2015 via a bequest through the Epworth Medical Foundation. Additional salons followed at Epworth Eastern, Epworth Geelong and Epworth Richmond in 2019. Today, around 15 patients are assisted each week by the Epworth’s Wig Salons.

A new space

Recently, Epworth Richmond was pleased to open a refurbished Wig Salon, providing a larger, more comfortable space, with new furnishings, such as comfortable velvet chairs, a built-in mirror, a vanity stand and new shelving. Importantly, the space now has more room for a patient’s support person to sit with them whilst they are assisted by Wig Salon volunteers to fit and style their new headwear products.

The first person to test out the upgraded room was oncology patient Sue, pictured below with Wig Salon volunteers Gabby and Angelina. ‘The fact that I am the first patient is very exciting indeed,’ she said.

Volunteer Gabby also praised the new space, sharing some of the emotional benefits that the new room delivers. ‘Often, treatment begins quickly after a shock diagnosis and people don’t have time to process what is happening to them,’ she said. ‘The new room allowed me to sit down next to a patient I was assisting recently and just let her get out what is happening in her life and the additional impact that losing her hair had on her self image’.

This sentiment is echoed by Epworth Volunteer Services Manager, Kylie Semple, who frequently hears positive feedback about the salon via the wonderful Wig Salon volunteers.

‘After Cancer treatments, looking in the mirror and seeing patchy hair falling out in your bed, shower and sink can be so confronting and a reminder of just how sick you are,’ she said. ‘Many people who come to the Wig Salon enjoy experimenting with looks and are overjoyed when they learn that the wigs are free’.

An opportunity to connect

Epworth Medical Foundation Executive Director, Scott Bulger, said the Wig Salon was a valuable service, made possible by the generosity of Epworth donors. ‘It’s more than just providing a patient with a wig, it’s offering patients an opportunity to connect with people who understand the journey they are going through, in a calm and welcoming environment’.

Bookings for the new Wig Salon at Epworth Richmond can be made here.

To learn more about the impact of philanthropy at Epworth, visit News and Stories.


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