“Our Wish is that They Have Hope When They Leave”
By Sandy Jensen, Clinical Cosmetologist and Mastectomy Fitter
More than 20 years ago, when clients asked for help dealing with the physical aspects of their cancer, I didn’t know how to help them. I volunteered with the American Cancer Society, working with the “Look Good, Feel Better” program but I wanted to give them more. There weren’t a lot of resources available and it was hard for a cosmetologist to get specialized training. Finally, I found a school outside of Minneapolis that offered more intensive training. I studied there, then came back and started working with cancer patients who were at a loss on what to do about their hair loss and changing bodies.
They were frightened, overwhelmed and physically and emotionally in pain. They couldn’t see beyond it. Their families also were in pain. The Image Recovery Centers—which are part of the Alegent Creighton Health Cancer Center—were created to help.
Our staff is trained to help our patients with wigs and specialty clothing. We know how to measure and fit them properly with mastectomy clothing, including post-mastectomy prostheses, bras and camisoles. We carry a huge array of items–even swimwear. We help with fitting from start to finish so they can be comfortable every step of the way. We want them to know when they leave here they can have a normal life.
We work as a team to take away all the “unknowns” a patient will confront. A huge percentage of what we do here is comfort people, like when I give a woman a hug after her hair begins to fall out and I shave her head for a wig. When she hugs you back and says, “Thank you!” you feel so much better along with her. There is no greater reward. I am so grateful that I am able to help these women. I receive so much more from them than I am able to give.
We know the cancer patient’s body will change and her hair will fall out. Our wish is that when a woman walks through our door feeling hopeless, she will feel much greater hope when she leaves.
For more information on Image Recovery Centers, call the Rita L. Cassling Image Recovery Center at Bergan Mercy, 402-398-6464; the Lyal McCaig Image Recovery Center at the Lakeside/Midwest Cancer Center, 402-717-4700; or the Mary Ann Beavers Image Recovery Center at Immanuel Medical Center, 402-572-3366.
Financial assistance is available. You do not have to be an Alegent Creighton Health patient to use the Image Recovery Center’s services.