Pioneering scheme praised by patients

Oxford Mail: Gill Ashwin, left, of Jacqueline’s Wigs with Karen Mitchell lead cancer nurse Buy this photo » Gill Ashwin, left, of Jacqueline’s Wigs with Karen Mitchell lead cancer nurse

PIONEERING workshops are helping cancer sufferers regain their dignity after losing their hair.

The Churchill Hospital in Oxford has piloted a new patient care programme called Linda’s Great Lengths, which will now roll out across the country.

It brings together hair, wig and beauty specialists to provide a “one-stop shop” for people who have experienced hair loss as a result of chemotherapy.

They will receive a range of treatments, as well as advice and support in choosing and personalising wigs, scarfs and head coverings.

Shiela Temple, 53, of Hailey Road, Witney, lost her hair during treatment for breast cancer last year.

“It wasn’t really the hair on my head that I minded losing,” she said. “But when I lost my eyebrows and eyelashes, that was the worst thing ever.

“It felt like there was no point even putting make-up on anymore. And it wasn’t very nice having to travel around to different places looking for wigs and make-up, so having it all together will be brilliant.”

Claire Crawford’s 10-year-old daughter Molly lost her hair after contracted leukae-mia five years ago Mrs Crawford, 38, of Brogden Close, Botley, said: “It makes the whole thing feel so much more serious and awful.

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“The hair loss is a massive part of it and if you could go through the treatment without that bit seeming so horrible it would really help.”

Jackie Beaumont, 57, was diagnosed with cancer five years ago and now runs the Oxfordshire Oesophageal and Stomach Organisation.

She said: “It causes most patients to experience an incredible loss of confidence, because they are frightened of what’s happening to them and how they are losing control of their lives. Anything that can be done to help patients get back some confidence has got to be a good thing.”

The hair loss support workshops were created by cancer patient Linda Mayhew, in association with the National Cancer Action Team.

The Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust’s lead cancer nurse, Karen Mitchell, will be running them.

She said: “The workshops are designed to give information as well as being interactive.

“Feedback from participants has been very positive. Individuals have appreciated the opportunity to explore hair loss and its effects with fellow patients in a safe and reassuring environment. The experience has helped boost self-confidence and morale.”

The rest of the team includes award-winning hairdresser Anne Veck, scarf-tying and head covering experts from the League of Jewish Women, demonstrations and advice from TV beauty expert Georgina Heron on eyebrow and eyelash replacement, and Gill Ashwin from Jacqueline’s Wigs.

The workshops are monthly and the first will be held on Saturday, before being rolled out to hospitals in London, Bristol and Leeds next year.

Call Mrs Mitchell on 01865 235202 to book a place.

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