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North Hills Monthly

Seventh Annual Wig Out Benefits Young Adult Cancer Support

Oct 31, 2018 07:59AM ● By Clare Heekin Lynch

Photo courtesy of Simply Sisters Photography

When a cancer patient loses his or her hair, it can be a startling and difficult experience that adds additional stress to an already rough situation. Wearing a wig is one way to cope with hair loss and help make cancer patients look and feel their best while undergoing treatment. 

This past Oct. 17, Cancer Caring Center’s Young Adult Cancer Support (YACS) program hosted its 7th annual Wig Out–a kind of “let your hair down and party” event that combines a light-hearted, fun-filled night of camaraderie with fundraising for an important cause. Attendees enjoyed an evening of dancing, food, beer and liquor samplings, and auctions at local venue Tequila Cowboy. 

Honorary Chair Kelly of 100.7 Star hosted the event, where guests wore wigs as a sign of solidarity for those coping with breast cancer or a cancer treatment that causes hair loss. A “best wig” contest, endless taco bar, and chic photo booth rounded out the lively evening presented by UPMC Health Plan and the UPMC Hillman Cancer Center.

YACS is a unique Cancer Caring Center program for young adult cancer patients and survivors from ages 18 to 39 who live in western Pennsylvania. “Our mission is to raise awareness for enhancing support, advocacy, and hope, while alleviating the financial burdens that cancer impacts on this particular population,” said Director of Support Services Stephanie Scoletti. “YACS remains the only program in the region that offers support services exclusively for local young adults impacted by cancer.” 

Located in Bloomfield, the Cancer Caring Center is a local nonprofit organization dedicated to helping people diagnosed with cancer and their families and friends cope with the emotional impact of cancer. 

“There is no right or wrong way to cope,” said Scoletti. “We offer a wide variety of services to help patients and families. You don’t have to fight cancer alone.” 

As a leukemia survivor herself, Scoletti remembers the lack of uplifting activities for others her age. “As a young adult, you are in a transition stage where you are establishing your identity and developing your own social, emotional and even financial independence. Through a group like YACS, we can help young adults currently battling cancer or those who have survived thrive in spite of the challenges they have to face,” she said.

“This is the reason why I created this event; it’s an evening to honor anyone who is living with cancer, who has survived cancer, and even those we have lost to cancer,” she added. “And we celebrate like you wouldn’t believe!” 

At the Wig Out event, approximately 350 guests are encouraged to don wigs of every color, size, shape and decade. “It’s so overwhelming to see the amount of men sporting wigs,” said an amazed Roberta Kozel. “This is not the support I am accustomed to seeing!” 

Kozel, who owns Salon IAOMO, is a second-year sponsor of the event. Since 1987, she has been helping guide clients though hair loss due to alopecia and cancer treatments. The salon’s Wig Room showcases 85 different hairstyles, which, when paired with consultations from experienced professionals, makes shopping easy and comfortable. 

“This fundraiser is just an excellent fit for me because it’s something I can truly relate to and stand behind,” Kozel said. “It’s fun, it’s contagious, and it’s a great way to make light of a really crummy subject.”

Through her work at her hair loss studio, Creative Hair Solutions in Allison Park, Pat Julkowski sees firsthand the positive effect that the proper fitting of wigs, and the support of a program like YACS, has on those dealing with hair loss. She is also a volunteer at the Cancer Caring Center. 

“More than 30 million Americans deal with hair loss due to either cancer treatment or other hair loss diseases,” she explained. “The type of support and focus offered through YACS truly helps improve the quality of life and self-esteem of both women and men who are fighting cancer.”

Julkowski has attended the Wig Out for the past couple of years. “It’s really an awesome event where everyone lets their hair down (or puts it up!) and laughs a lot—all while helping build the community we want to live in where residents are healthy, safe, and feel supported,” she said. “That’s a huge win for everyone!”

To learn more, visit the Cancer Caring Center at http://cancercaring.org/YACS/.