Hair loss inspires mum to start own wig salon

Jayne Shirt
Jayne Shirt
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Year on year, more people are surviving cancer. However, overcoming treatment and living beyond the illness brings its own issues – which, in the coming decades, will require new services to meet increasing demand.

This year, Sheffield’s Weston Park Hospital Cancer Charity is marking its 20th anniversary – and in the second of a series of special features throughout this year, Healthy Living has found out more about the support it offers to survivors.

Mum Jayne Shirt was inspired to set up her own wig service after being diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma and losing her hair as a result of treatment.

After the disease spread to her lymph nodes, Jayne, from Dronfield Woodhouse, underwent surgery followed by chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatment at Weston Park.

Despite initially finding the experience daunting, and suffering from fatigue, Jayne continued to work at her hair salon, 195 Hairlines, in Totley.

Jayne says: “Not only did I have to come to terms with my cancer diagnosis, but also the fact that losing my hair during chemotherapy would be likely.

“When the time came to source a suitable wig, my experience was somewhat disheartening, hence I was inspired to make this process easier for those in a similar position in the future.”

The 57-year-old set up her hair salon 26 years ago and now, with an extended offering of hair replacement options and beauty treatments, she works alongside her two daughters, Melissa and Danielle.

Jayne says: “Twelve years ago we transformed the lower ground floor of the salon into a wig shop where women and men suffering from hair loss could attend a specialised consultation, in a private and welcoming environment.

“Often, people come to me at a time when they are anxious and scared.

“I experienced those feelings first-hand and knew instantly a provision was needed in the area to accommodate for this gap in the market.”

Jayne now promotes a full wig service, from initial consultation to fitting, taking factors such as hair and skin tone, style and face shape into consideration.

Hair loss is one of the most well-known side effects of chemotherapy treatment and can range from mild thinning of the hair to complete hair loss, depending on the cancer drugs given.

She attends Weston Park’s late effects clinic each year to check-up on the possible long-term consequences of her treatment.

The programme, which funded research into identifying and managing the long-term effects of cancer treatment, began in 2001 with the appointment of a research fellow, Dr Diana Greenfield.

Dr Greenfield now works as a consultant nurse, as well as playing a part in Sheffield University’s partnership with Weston Park Hospital.

She said Jayne was a ‘real inspiration’.

Dr Greenfield says: “She is living proof that life can be fulfilling beyond treatment.

“She has endured several treatments over the years and it’s fantastic she has developed this incredible service to benefit others in response to her own personal cancer journey.”

As a thank you to the hospital and charity, Jayne is hosting tea parties throughout May as part of the good cause’s campaign, Time for Tea.

“I’m just so grateful to still be here,” continued Jayne.

“Anything I can do to help is an absolute honour.”

Charity needs to raise £2m a year

Weston Park Hospital cancer charity needs to raise more than £2 million this year to help the Sheffield hospital stay at the forefront of research and treatment.

One of the organisation’s current projects provides funding for the Cancer Support Centre, which offers a support and information service for patients and families.

The centre costs the charity £200,000 every year, and on top of this, £100,000 was recently allocated specifically to support patients live full and active lives after cancer.

Karen Holmes, Cancer Support Centre manager, says: “Support for those surviving cancer is becoming ever more crucial as the survival rate increases with better diagnosis and treatment options becoming available.

“Our motto is ‘here to help, here to listen’.”

Visit www.wphcancercharity.org.uk or call 0114 226 5370 for more information.