A Special Style Of Hair Care

Published: November 24, 2006 | 5084th good news item since 2003

Hairstylist Lisa Dlugos has walked miles in the shoes of women suffering from cancer.

Getting sick was a painful, life-affirming experience that taught her many pivotal lessons, she said. Some of them inspired her new Southington beauty shop, Miracles and Beyond.

Just opened in October, the full-service salon will cater to the sensitive, special needs of women coping with cancer. [Coping With Cancer: Twelve Creative Choices]

“It’s so humiliating to get your hair shaved in a salon,” said Dlugos, 47, who was declared cancer-free in May 2006 after a year of intense treatments for stage III breast cancer detected a year earlier.

Miracles and Beyond, at 26 Bristol St., is a joint venture of Dlugos and her sister, Joyce Petersen, 58, both of Southington. They’ve designed their salon with the cozy comforts of a cottage.

There’s a private consulting room that features a complete salon station that can be used for women who need special care during harsh cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy, that result in hair loss.

“We’d have the client come in before chemo for evaluation,” said Dlugos, who plans to display a variety of wigs, some in styles that can be custom-ordered, based on a client’s own hair and preferences.

Wigs can run anywhere from $50 to more than $1,000, depending on whether they’re made from synthetic or human hair.

“A lot of people don’t even know Connecticut law mandates insurers must pay $350 for a wig for all cancer patients,” said Petersen, who said neither she nor Dlugos knew about the benefit while Dlugos unsuccessfully searched for cosmetic solutions to the side effects of chemotherapy.

“We’ll help the client call their insurer while they are right here in our chair to confirm their coverage,” Dlugos said. “We want it to be no out-of-pocket expenses for the customer. If they have a deductible, we’ll knock the cost off the price of the wig.”

[Defending Andy: One Mother’s Fight to Save Her Son from Cancer and the Insurance Industry]

The sisters have tried to distinguish their salon in several ways, including joining the Locks of Love network of salons offering free haircuts to those who donate hair for wigs for young cancer patients. They also sponsor a weekly light-hearted support group for cancer patients, offer chemical-free makeup and makeup sessions for women undergoing treatment, mail out inspirational monthly newsletters and reach out to potential clients through physicians, hospitals and treatment centers. They also offer their customers free light snacks, sandwiches and soups.

Right now, the staff includes three full-time stylists in addition to Dlugos and Petersen, both of whom plan to focus on management and customer service as the business grows. There are also two cosmetology students who plan to graduate next year, including Sarah Dlugos, 20, Lisa’s daughter. For now, the students focus on Saturday afternoon birthday parties that include hairdos, nail painting and makeup for little girls. There are also plans to add a masseuse. A variety of hats and scarves are also displayed for sale.

Dlugos said she had trouble locating headgear when she needed it, and she hopes to create a line of decorative baseball caps, perhaps personalized and decorated by the women who’ll wear them.

“Something good always comes out of a bad situation,” Sarah Dlugos said in encouraging her family last year. Today, Dlugos can finally agree.

“If I didn’t have cancer, we wouldn’t have this for all these other women,” she said.

Published in Life
See also: www.courant.com
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