When entering the Spot Suite, you may walk past a room displaying several types of wigs, including length, color and style.
Whether a visitor wants a pixie cut, bob cut, or balayage, the display can bring a sense of hope.
At Carroll, Suite Spot hairstylist Kim Murell is partnering with St. Anthony Regional Hospital and Strands of Strength to help build confidence in cancer patients facing hair loss from chemotherapy.
Strands of Strength is a Des Moines-based non-profit organization that helps provide wigs to patients and often provides financial assistance for patients to obtain wigs.
Murrell said she got involved in the program when her friend asked her if she wanted to help. At the time, St. Anthony Regional Hospital was looking for someone to help with the program.
The wigs ordered by Murrell are from a company called HairUWear. Most of the wigs she orders are synthetic, which she uses on human hair wigs due to their weight.
When meeting clients who are in need of a wig, Murrell said she often had in-depth conversations while cutting their hair, which made the interaction all the more meaningful.
“It’s gratifying, in the sense that I can help them feel whole and make them look as beautiful as possible without their organic hair,” Murrell said. “I met strangers who sat in my chair [and] I feel like they’ve become new friends.
Outside of Carroll, Strands of Strengths partners with various shows across Iowa, including cities such as Cedar Rapids, Waterloo, Davenport, and Ames.
Deb Pulver, president of Strands of Strength, said she knows the challenges of hair loss firsthand. Being a cancer survivor, Pulver said coming out without hair was another reminder of being sick.
“It just helps you regain confidence, especially when you’re in public with other people, because people don’t look at you any differently,” Pulver said. “When we’re sick, it doesn’t matter what we have, it doesn’t matter who you are, you don’t want to look any different.”
According to Pulver, salon owners partnering with the program will provide medical staff with a recipient form, which they will sign for the cancer patient. The patient will use the signed paper as the voucher to choose their wig.
“A lot of our salons are absolutely wonderful,” Pulver said. “They are very, very caring people, and most women would if we didn’t pay them, but we pay them, but that’s okay, they still would because they want to help others. women.”
Murrell said she understands how many people associate their hair with their self-image, and she tries to make the experience more fun for her clients by helping them experiment with different styles.
“I always tell everyone, our hair in a way is our crown,” Murrell said. “I feel like if you are having a bad hair day, it can make the whole day difficult. … I feel like some of these people are fighting for their lives, and therefore their hair matters. Maybe it shouldn’t, but it is because it makes you feel good.
Although she helps many cancer patients, Murrell said hair loss may also be associated with COVID-19 and alopecia. As people continue to lose their hair during the hardest part of their lives, Murrell said she is always happy to help.
“There are a lot of reasons and needs for wigs right now in our lives, so I guess I feel lucky enough to be able to be the person who can help the people who need them right now,” he said. Murrell said.