CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. -- Sharon Whitting is a breast cancer survivor. She has beaten back cancer four times. The life-saving chemotherapy she underwent left her bedridden and without hair.
"It's crushing. A crushing feeling that you get. For the moment you may be hairless and bald and not feeling very pretty," Whitting said about the experience. She said it took some time for her to be okay with the way she looked, knowing her hair would eventually grow back.
Chesterfield-based hair stylist Ann Francis would like to help cancer survivors like Sharon get through the difficult days. She has decided to offer free services to breast cancer survivors. The services are designed to pamper the survivor while protecting the hair.
"Anytime you have hair loss, you are still growing hair underneath. Hair follicles are still healthy and alive," Francis said. "So you have to make sure you stimulate the scalp."
Francis recommended using mild shampoos, conditioners free of chemicals and phosphates during and after cancer treatment. She also tells clients to consider "The Big Chop."
"I tell them you might as well take the big chop so it won't be so alarming when you wake up and find hair on your pillow and in the sink," Francis said.
Hair begins to fall out about 20 days after a patient begins chemotherapy, VCU Massey Cancer Center Medical Oncologist Dr. Mary Helen Hackney said. While anti-cancer medicines work to stop the cancer from growing, it also stops other cells too.
"So the chemotherapy kills the fast growing cells, that's why hair will fall out," Dr. Hackney said.
When hair begins to grow back, it will be very fine and you have to treat it like baby fine hair, she said. Hair may also grow back curly, she added.
For more information about Ann Francis' complimentary hair services to breast cancer survivors, call The Mane Studio at 804-382-1239 or click here to email Ann. The offer is good from October through December. She said she would offer the same services for other cancer patients in November and December.
The private sessions are available by appointment on the first and third Tuesdays on the month. Chemical services are not included.
The Mane Studio is located at 11500 Midlothian Turnpike at Salon Plaza in Chesterfield County.