Fun, funky hair for cancer patients

Anthony Abbondanza
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The Project Rockin’ Locks campaign collects and donates wigs to women who’ve lost hair

Rachel Devins, seen here sporting a fashionable fuscia wig, collected over $2000 dollars at a June 27 charity event at Fluevog Shoes in Montreal. Proceeds will allow her to purchase "funky" wigs for local cancer groups.

Rachel Devins had just taken up the challenge of being a new mom to her husband’s three children when she was diagnosed with cancer in the spring of 2012.          

Fast-forward a few months and she’s become physically and emotionally drained from her cancer treatments. Devins needed a distraction, an alter-ego superhero.

Batsuhiro would be her name.

Soon enough, the cancer warrior princess would travel to her daily and weekly appointments, including trips to the Royal Victoria Hospital and the Montreal General Hospital for chemotherapy treatment, clad in silver tights, a funky belt, and a pink wig.

"I think the trick for dealing with cancer is doing other stuff," said the 44-year-old Beaconsfield resident. "Not just thinking about cancer. You have to do something vivacious and fun."

Like most cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy treatment, Devins lost her hair.

"It's a lot of different feelings. I was anxious and like 'oh my god, I'm going to lose all my hair.' My hair started falling during a shower; it was weird. I thought 'oh my god if I condition now, more will fall out.' I started laughing because it’s so bizarre. It’s horrible but kind of funny at the same time. But I felt really good when it was gone."

Although her newfound appreciation for baldness set her "free," Devins still wanted hair –an integral part of a women's identity. She scoured CanSupport and the Canadian Cancer Society for wigs, but the support groups were rather thin in "fabulous, funky hair" supply.

"I think the trick for dealing with cancer is doing other stuff. Not just thinking about cancer. You have to do something vivacious and fun." Rachel Devins

A few phone calls to American-based wig maker Pleasure Wigs in early May, and Project Rockin Locks, an initiative that brings trendy wigs to women who've suffered hair loss, was up and running.

“It started off as a creative way to say thank you to everyone while taking care of me,” said Devins. “I wanted to honour them and just say thank you to the community.”

Devins purchased an expensive order of wigs, and then upon receipt, quickly dispersed 40 wigs to CanSupport at the Royal Victoria Hospital on May 17. It cost between $500-600, excluding the shipping fee, for her philanthropic endeavour.

When Fluevog Shoes heard of Project Rockin’ Locks, the store donated 50 per cent of their sales on June 27 to the campaign, which helped Devins raise over $2000 towards the purchase of more wigs.

“She’s an amazing person with an amazing story,” said Anthony Pennimpede, the store’s manager. “I’m just glad we could help.”

For information on how to donate to Devins’ cause, visit www.projectrockinlocks.wix.com/love4hair.

Organizations: Royal Victoria Hospital, Montreal General Hospital, Canadian Cancer Society

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  • carolyn
    August 07, 2013 - 17:11

    wonderful piece on a wonderful person and project :D

  • Debra Barry
    August 01, 2013 - 12:10

    Wonderful, creative approach to a horrific experience that is a great good!