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Cosmetology program uplifts cancer patients, seeks wig donations

Ashland Community and Technical College

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and according to National Breast Cancer Foundation, Inc., one in eight women will be diagnosed with the disease in their lifetime.

Officials with Ashland Community and Technical College said their Stepping Stones program aims to combat one of the largest insecurities caused by cancer treatment: hair loss. Launched in 2002, the cosmetology program provides cancer patients with human-hair wigs, free-of-charge.

Mourine Smith is the Cosmetology Coordinator at ACTC. She said the service provided by the program brings joy and relief to the clients, and the cosmetology students who wash and style the wigs also feel the impact.

“Some of the students have actually, after the client will leave, come to our office and been in tears hearing the stories of these patients,” said Smith. “And a lot of our students and instructors, myself included, have dealt with cancer with our own families, so we kinda feel for the family members that come in and we feel for the patients.”

Smith said individuality is very important to many clients, so all human-hair wig donations are accepted, no matter the style.

“Our patients that come in, they’re coming in at all different ages. So we look for any and all, honestly, styles, colors, because not everybody wants a short brunette or a short gray wig,” she said. “They’re wanting the longer hair, they’re wanting the blondes and the different dimension, the different styles that they have.”

Smith said all donations given to Stepping Stones allow the program to continue to provide free wigs and specialized supplies to their clients who may not have access to the same resources.

“That allows us to purchase the shampoo that’s specific for wig care; wig caps that are specific for cancer patients to have on their hair so the wigs don’t irritate their scalps or anything,” said Smith. “Sometimes, that medicine can make their skin kind of sensitive, so wig caps are important for patients. And then, we also take the monetary donations and purchase newer wigs.”

Clients must be referred to the Stepping Stones program through their physician, and Smith said Stepping Stones accepts wig donations year-round.

Wig donations can be dropped off at the cosmetology salon on the ACTC College Drive campus during the academic year, or at the Foundation Office through the summer.

More information can be found by emailing the ACTC Foundation at as_foundation@kctcs.edu.