Dec. 4—Hair loss for women can be traumatizing.
Young women suffering from hair loss for medical reasons are finding comfort, courage and new locks of hair through the efforts of a team of specialists working with a nonprofit called Operation BeYoutiful.
Nina Miller, Brooke Moyer and Joanna Bertolasio have been fitting women with wigs since 2018 from the offices of Nu/Hart Hair at College Park Plaza in Richland Township.
Miller said she was contacted one day by Andi Palmer, founder of Operation BeYoutiful.
"She asked me if I would be interested in being a partner to help young women going through chemotherapy," she said.
Miller said she jumped at the opportunity.
"You're helping to change someone's life," she said.
Operation BeYoutiful helps women with all types of medical hair loss. The nonprofit raises the money needed to buy wigs with no cost to clients. This year, 46 women have received wigs through the program.
Clients file applications, then have consultations and are fitted with wigs in about three weeks.
"Most people are so excited that you're able to give them peace of mind," Miller said. "I always tell them that, once you get this taken care of, you have one less thing to worry about.
"Ladies never want to lose their hair," she said. "But once you know you're going to receive a natural-looking, high-quality replacement, chemo is not as scary."
'Lots of excitement'
Companies in the United States that supply wigs often get hair from overseas.
"European hair is most like our blond Caucasian hair," Miller said. "When you get into darker hair, they sometimes reach out to Indonesia, China and Asian countries."
The organization also uses quality synthetic blends, which give the wig a soft, natural look and movement, she said. Moyer cuts and styles the hair for each client.
"It's rewarding to give people their confidence back when they lose their hair," she said. "When they look in the mirror, there's lots of excitement — and sometimes lots of tears."
When Bertolasio answers the telephone, there is usually a nervous client on the other end.
"I treat everybody like they're my friend, and you just let them know that you're here to help," she said. "It can be scary for them. We don't just help them to get new hair, but support them emotionally."
Online testimonials glow with appreciation.
"The staff at Nu/Hart Hair were amazing and were very empathetic as well," said one client. "Within two weeks, I was fitted with my new wig, which looks like my natural hair. Now, thanks to Operation BeYoutiful, I feel more like my old self, and my self-esteem is better."
Palmer described the trio's hard work as invaluable.
"They do an amazing job," Palmer said. "They're so kind and considerate. They have the best intentions of the recipient at heart."