Two sisters are changing the lives of women of color living with cancer.
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Because cancer treatment can include hair loss, the search for wigs that best resemble one’s natural hair can be challenging. Dianne Austin, one of the sisters who founded “Coils to Locs,” has experienced this struggle personally. So, she and her sister set out to fill this void.
In 2015, Dianne Austin was diagnosed with breast cancer. She was told the chemotherapy treatment would cause hair loss, so her doctor gave her a wig prescription. Seems normal, right? Unfortunately the search for a wig presented additional challenges.
“So I went to the hospital where I was going to be treated here in Boston and they didn’t sell any tightly coiled wigs,” Dianne said. “They only sold straight haired wigs.”
Sweeping the country, Dianne and her sister searched everywhere to find an appropriate wig. However, they couldn’t find a wig that resembled their beautiful tight coils and curls. And so began the mission to create an alternative to what was then available to cancer patients of color.
“We started asking around and talking to the vendors at the hospitals,” Pamela Shaddock said. “They let us know and confirmed that women are asking for these wigs.”
The sisters decided to make a difference for hospitals and patients experiencing medical hair loss. They created Coils to Locs, an organization whose mission is to provide wigs to people of color being treated for cancer who up until that point didn’t have any options for wigs that matched natural hair textures.
Once they developed Coils to Locs, they found a manufacturer for their wigs and had their product go through what is called “a wig fitter test.”
“She took the wig and she started stretching it and turning it inside out and she said, ‘This is really good quality,'” Dianne recalled. “I remember having a sigh of relief.”
That seal of approval was all they required to provide a much-needed resource for not only women of color but any woman with textured hair who is experiencing hair loss. Thanks to their efforts, hospitals can provide a higher level of representation and inclusion. Those searching for curly wig styles at cancer center hospitals and medical hair loss salons have an alternative. They are no longer alone!
“(We’re) continually reaching these women and letting them know that these wigs are becoming available,” Pamela said. “We are in 15 hospitals and medical salons across the country.”
And this is just the beginning. They agree that sometimes they still can’t believe that they have made such an impact in the lives of others. Dianne said she remembers when Coils to Locs was just an idea.
“And sometimes we are like pinching ourselves,” Dianne said. “We actually did this. We created this business from scratch.”
This is such a great example of the power that teamwork and a commitment to making a difference in the lives of others can have. Share this story to celebrate these true everyday heroes.
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