November 2008

How One Salon Turns Tragedy Into Triumph

By James Giddings

You wouldn’t know you’re walking into a refuge as you enter it, but you are. And a nice, comfortable, encouraging refuge at that.

Walking into the inviting brick building, you might feel like you’re visiting a friend’s house. Once you meet the proprietor, you will have been correct; having made a new friend of the bubbly, cheerful lady who has offered to greet you, Cheryll Fiorendino will make you feel that you’ve been life-long pals.

Cheryll Fiorendino
Wiggin’ Out owner, Cheryll Fiorendino (pictured left with her daughter Jaimee Granberry), specializes in wigs and other services to help clients undergoing cancer treatments feel better.

 

You may not have realized it when you started reading this article, but there’s a good chance that if you are here to see this happy new friend, you are in desperate need of help, hope and comfort. And found it you have. You see, Fiorendino’s friendly salon cloaks her equally friendly cancer patient beautification zone. Of course, you may only see it called that in this article; she calls it Wiggin’ Out.

While speaking to her one fine day in October, which happened to be National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, she explained that she is the only woman in her family that hasn’t had cancer. The disease has taken her grandmother and her mother. Even her sister-in-law was affected; she had lymphoma. During her treatment, she received a wig, “but it was awful,” confided Fiorendino.

A close friend of hers, Linda Price, also died of cancer. Price was a happy person; during each holiday, she would help her friends get wigs appropriate to the theme of the holiday, to add some extra fun and joy to the occasion. She was also an inspirational friend to Fiorendino, and was an excellent example of being very active in the community. She participated in Komen walks, Relay for Life, would wear pink to remind people to support cancer research, to name a few of her efforts. She was born on the Fourth of July, and they buried her in a red-white-and-blue wig according to her wishes. Looking down at her friend, she knew she could take up the fight as well.

She decided to take up the cause by helping women going through cancer treatment to take back control of their appearance, to make it easier to look just exactly as they did when they were still healthy. On the other hand, as she admitted, “some people prefer bizarre” wigs and makeup to help them cope with their treatments, which is just fine too. Her primary goal is to help them forget about their treatments for a little while and help them put together a look that completely masks their illness and helps them feel good about their appearance during this very difficult time.

How does she accomplish it? To start, she likes to see how they look while healthy. Some women come in to see her before they start treatment; some come in with photos of how they looked prior to treatment. Then they visit the back room, away from the distractions of the main salon, where they make their selection of a wig. She custom fits the wig to the woman’s head, and they style it while she’s wearing it so they can exactly match whatever look they want.

The goal here, however, is not to gain a new salon client. Women going through cancer treatment are often self-conscious about their changing appearance—even when it comes to visiting their regular stylist. Here, they can seek assistance while they need special help, with the full expectation of returning to their regular stylist when they are feeling better.

She doesn’t just stop there. In the rare case that a woman’s insurance will cover wigs and cosmetic treatments during therapy, she also helps them apply for their benefits. In addition, the salon is in the process of getting set up to accept Medicare clients. It’s not an easy process, but Fiorendino remembers the time during her mother’s cancer that her family depended on Medicare to get the help she needed, and she wants to be there for those who depend on it as her family did.

At Wiggin’ Out, women can also benefit from Fiorendino’s research into masking the changing hues of the skin under their eyes—and other obvious signs of treatment—as their treatments progress. They can even do mastectomy fittings.

She expects to have her certification and accreditation by the beginning of the new year. Could your salon offer a similar service in your area?

For advice on how your salon can get started helping cancer patients, call Cheryll Fiorendino at 972-436-9447 or visit wiggin-out.net.