< Return to Articles

Cancer Does not Define Her

by Lynette Fager

On Oct, 8, 2009, Sally Garrett Smith’s life changed—she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Less than a month later, she had surgery and soon after, she began radiation treatments. As a hair stylist, one of the things that hit the hardest about cancer for Sally was the almost certain reality that she would lose her hair.

But Sally’s response? “Get over it, girl!”

She was determined that cancer would not define her, so she decided to give back. During her radiation treatments at Parkview Hospital, someone mentioned Cancer Services of Northeast Indiana and its Wig Salon. Sally told her husband, “When I get through this, maybe I can go over and help with the wigs or something.”

And help she did. After she completed radiation, Sally contacted Cancer Services and said she wanted to be a volunteer, particularly in the Wig Salon. Cancer Services jumped at the opportunity because at the time, no one was in charge of the Wig Salon.

Sally spends a few hours a week styling wigs and “making them look great so that when women who have lost their hair come in, they can see the style, colors and options available.”

But Sally understands that there is more to this journey than just finding a pretty wig; a woman’s self-esteem is at stake. That’s why she makes sure that anyone entering the Wig Salon knows that they can come to the salon where she works and have their hair cut or shaved and their new wig styled and fitted for free. Not only does this make it easier for women going through a cancer journey to feel better about themselves, but Sally also points out that this gives her a chance to build relationships with these women.

“I didn’t lose my hair and I thank God for that, but I want to spare the women that do lose their hair as much pain as I can,” says Sally. “I want to help them keep their dignity.”