UW Health patients can get free wigs again

“When somebody sees themselves looking like they used to—that’s the big win,” the wig stylist said.
Published: Jul. 30, 2020 at 9:28 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Patients at UW Hospital and Clinics can get free wigs again, after the coronavirus halted the service for several months.

Kristie Konsoer said she sees the Wig Salon as “essential.” A small room located within the UW Carbone Cancer Center, the salon has offered wigs to patients experiencing hair loss for more than 20 years.

Konsoer has stage 4 breast cancer and has received treatment since 2012.

“I’ve done many different things in terms of choices for my hair,” she explained. Konsoer has her natural hair back, due to cold capping, but she has also tried wraps and wigs.

“A person is more than their hair, but there are identity issues attached to that,” Konsoer said. “You feel like you. You look like you, certainly. It just makes you feel happier. It makes you feel healthier. I have appreciated having my hair or a wig to wear when I go out in public, and I could basically blend in.”

Wig stylist Stephanie Schutz has helped patients like Konsoer for 17 years. She said the Wig Salon has served nearly 500 patients annually in the last two years, up from serving about 400 patients annually in the last decade.

“You can try on five wigs, ten wigs,” Schutz said. “You’re waiting for that one special wig to just work. It may take a while, but we work until we find that.”

By the expressions on patients’ faces, Schutz said she knows when they have found the right fit. “That’s my goal,” she said. “To make sure that everybody feels that way when they’re leaving, so that they know that they can go home, put on the wig and feel confident to face the day.”

The salon reopened on July 22, with new safety procedures. Schutz wears PPE and fits wigs on mannequins, not patients.

“When somebody sees themselves looking like they used to—that’s the big win,” she said.

According to the website, the service is available to patients receiving treatment at UW Hospital and Clinics or at 1 S. Park St. Schutz said the first wig is free, then the following wigs are paid out-of-pocket, at cost.

The program is sponsored by the Friends of UW Hospital and Clinics.

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