When she lost her hair after chemotherapy treatment, Theresa McDermott realized she was more vain than she'd thought.
She had known since being diagnosed with breast cancer that her hair would fall out.
Before it happened, she said she thought, “‘It's not that big a deal: You lose your hair. My gosh, your goal is to survive, so who cares about your hair.'”
Actually losing it, though, affected her emotionally. “It's a reminder of what you're going through, that's for sure.”
On Tuesday, McDermott, her husband (Creighton University basketball coach Greg McDermott) and 20-year-old son (Doug McDermott, Creighton's All-America forward) visited the Methodist Estabrook Cancer Center to learn about the services there to help cancer patients deal with the effects of cancer treatment, such as hair loss.
Creighton donated about $10,000 of the nearly $30,000 raised at its Creighton vs. Cancer “Pinkout” game in January to Methodist Hospital's cancer center. Much of the rest went to the Creighton University Medical Center. The home game drew a sellout crowd of more than 18,400 fans — many clad in pink — who watched Creighton players in pink uniforms and shoes beat the Bradley Braves.
Greg McDermott said his teams — first at the University of Northern Iowa, then at Iowa State University and at Creighton — have been holding “Pinkouts” since Theresa was diagnosed in late 2005 at age 40. Their son, Doug McDermott, said the players enjoy the new jerseys and the new shoes, and “it's cool seeing the whole crowd in pink, too.”
Lori Fuchs, a clinical cosmetologist and certified mastectomy fitter, told the McDermott family during their tour Tuesday that she offers patients from Methodist and elsewhere free wig fittings, head shaving, skin consultations, makeovers and mastectomy fittings.
Fuchs also sells wigs and detergent- and sulfate-free skin-care products in her salon.
The services are among many offered through Harper's Hope, a cancer survivorship program at Methodist funded by the Harper Family Foundation. It's called Harper's Hope in memory of Josie Harper, the late wife of former ConAgra Chairman and CEO Charles “Mike” Harper. She died of lung cancer in 1999.
Greg McDermott said it's important to try to find a cure for cancer and identify different treatment options, “but equally important to us is how can some of the money we raise ... impact the cancer patients and their families as they're going through it. And that's what was so impressive to me about this program. These are real-life issues for folks that are going through cancer ... and this has a positive impact on their life.”
Theresa McDermott, who now is cancer-free, didn't like wearing a wig — “I thought they were itchy,” she said, so she and her sister fashioned a partial wig that would fit under a ballcap.
She also had a full wig she could wear to church.
“I can't imagine the women that every day kind of want to look good and not look like they're going through what they're going through,” she said. “So I would think this (service) is huge.”
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