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Dear Abby: Cancer patient's wig draws unwanted attention

Dear Abby: Cancer patient's wig draws unwanted attention

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Dear Abby

Dear Abby

DEAR ABBY: I was recently diagnosed with breast cancer and I'm undergoing chemotherapy. My children are still in school. I have lost all my hair and wear a wig when out in the community. It closely approximates my pre-cancer hairstyle, except it's a bit shorter with highlights.

Acquaintances have seen me at events, and complimented me on my hair. Some have asked questions such as, "Did you do something different with your hair? It looks great!" and, "Your hair looks so different. Did you do something new?" I prefer not to share my diagnosis with these individuals. One person even began touching my hair! What is the appropriate response? When I replied, "Thank you," they stared at me, expecting more of an explanation. -- WIG WEARER IN SACRAMENTO, CALIF.

DEAR WIG WEARER: You are not obligated to discuss your medical information with "acquaintances." "Thank you" should have been enough. However, because it wasn't, I'm guessing the people doing the probing probably realized you were wearing a wig.

I discussed your question with Piny of Beverly Hills, a longtime wig-maker to performers in show business as well as cancer patients. He told me that handling the question could be as simple as saying you saw it online or in a shop, thought it was cute and have been enjoying wearing it. During our conversation, he shared another tidbit: Many people wear wigs and extensions these days, for a variety of reasons. So many adults have dull or thinning hair that your healthy, shiny locks are somewhat unusual, which may be why people have been quizzing you.

That said, consider wearing your wig to a beauty salon and talking with a stylist about what you're encountering. Wigs that aren't custom-made can have so much hair that they don't look natural -- particularly if the wearer didn't have thick hair to begin with. A good stylist may be able to thin the wig for you so it looks more natural.

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