Cancer Featured Sunnybrook Magazine - Fall 2019

Handcrafted wig stands are a welcomed sight at the Odette Cancer Centre

A wooden wig stand is placed in front of a mirror.

Patients undergoing cancer treatment can face many distressing side effects, and one of them is hair loss.  

In a room at the Odette Cancer Centre, shelves of neatly arranged wigs and head coverings line the walls. They’re free for patients who’ve lost their hair from chemotherapy or other cancer-related treatment. Many of the wigs sit atop expertly handcrafted wooden wig stands, which are also available free of charge to patients.

Woodturner Allan Cooper says his wife lost her hair due to chemotherapy nine years ago. In an attempt to add something beautiful to her life, the retired lawyer made her a wig stand. Although she has since passed away, he’s been making and donating them to the hospital ever since. 

“I decided the hospital could use something more attractive than the Styrofoam heads,” he says.  

A man wearing a mask and a red jacket looks down.

In addition to creating his own wig stands, Allan Cooper also collects stands from other woodturners across the province.

Allan also collects stands from other woodturners across the province. In the last two years, he’s collected more than 150 wig stands for donation, with no two being identical. “Wigs are very important to patients going through chemotherapy. Having a stand to place it on gives it the respect it deserves,” says Erin Di Lella, volunteer coordinator at the Odette Cancer Centre. “And these stands are beautiful works of art made with love.” 

Each stand varies in finish, from a clear lacquer that showcases the wood grain to colourful paint.  

Volunteers at the cancer centre say patients are comforted knowing that somebody took the time and energy to make such striking showpieces. 

“The object of life is to try to improve life for other people,” Allan says. “When somebody has an illness, it’s not difficult to make their life just a little bit better, [to] add something unique, make them feel special. So, if I can make them even a little bit happier, then I’m satisfied.”

About the author

Katherine Nazimek

Katherine Nazimek

Katherine Nazimek is a Communications Advisor at Sunnybrook.

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