(CBS) — Childhood cancer is isolating. At a time when you especially want to fit in with your peers, losing your hair can take a toll on your self-esteem.
But wigs can cost thousands of dollars and oftentimes are not covered by insurance.
CBS 2’s Susanna Song introduces us to a woman whose mission is to make wigs more affordable.
Ashley Junkunc is excited for her first year of college. It hasn’t been easy getting here. About a year and a half ago — during her junior year at Libertyville High School, Ashley learned she had non-Hodgkins lymphoma.
She had to undergo chemotherapy.
Of the hair loss associated with the treatment, Ashley says: “That’s when it hits you, ‘I have cancer.’”
During her treatments at Lurie Children’s Hospital, Ashley’s social worker pointed her to Hair For You Foundation.
Rebecca Boumstein, a pediatric oncology nurse, started the non-for-profit. The idea came to her 15 years ago when she was in high school fighting her own battle with cancer.
“Basically my biggest fear, despite everything that comes with having cancer, was losing my hair,” she says. “It was the worst feeling in the world.”
She was lucky her parents could afford to buy her a wig.
“You felt normal when nothing was normal in your life,” Rebecca says.
She started the foundation so she could help others feel normal and confident.
Ashley says she appreciates the wig she obtained.
“It gave me normalcy back, go back to school and do my hair, went to prom and got it done at the hair salon.”
Both Rebecca and Ashley are cancer-free. Ashley’s hair has grown back.
They’ll never forget how a simple hair piece made such a difference, during a scary time in their youth.
Hair For You is holding its second annual “Family Fun Day” to raise money for wigs. The event is on Sept. 10 at Tamarak Day Camp in Lincolnshire, from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.