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Happy Heads Salon offers free services for breast cancer patients

Posted: 10:44 PM, Oct 05, 2016
Updated: 2016-10-05 23:44:02-04
Mandy Ehlke of Appleton was just 31-years-old and pregnant with her third child when she got the devastating diagnosis of breast cancer.
 
"It just turned my world upside down." 
 
After chemotherapy and surgery, Ehlke went into remission, and her son was born healthy. Two years later, three new spots appeared on her liver. She's now battling stage four cancer.
 
"You kind of get down in the dumps for a week and then you pick your head up, and you realize you've got to do it. I've got to fight."
 
Two weeks into her second round of treatment, Ehlke's hair began falling out. She turned to Happy Heads Salon inside the Fox Valley Hematology and Oncology center for help.
 
"Without them, you're stuck being sick, not feeling well, and looking for ways to feel beautiful when everything else is kind of going away."
 
Happy Heads provides new wigs at a reduced cost, as well as free wigs, scarves and hats that have been donated by community members in an effort to ease the financial burden as patients' medical bills continue to pile up.
 
Betsy Rachubinski is a wig specialist and licensed cosmetologist at Happy Heads who also does haircuts and head shavings at no charge.
 
"Just seeing a patient come in full of tears and leaving with a smile on her face, just makes it all worth it," Rachubinski says.
 
"I think it's nice to have a safe, comfortable place to go where you can like literally let it all out. If she shaves your head, if she cuts your hair, if she helps you pick out a wig, I mean I think that service is invaluable," says breast cancer survivor Peggy Alexander.
 
Alexander says Rachubinski does more than make you feel pretty. Their time together is therapeutic.
 
"When they sit in my chair, it's kind of like relief for them I think. They just want to talk about it, and they just want somebody to listen and show some compassion," explains Rachubinski.
 
Alexander gets emotional when she describes what Rachubinski means to her.
 
"She's one of the most empathetic people I think I've ever met, and she will do whatever she can to help which is awesome. I'm lucky to call her a friend."
 
Ehlke is grateful for the boost of confidence, so she can focus her attention on beating cancer.
 
"I can hold my head high and just live my life the best I can," she says. 
 
Rachubinski also hosts free "Look Good, Feel Better" classes through the American Cancer Society. She offers skincare and makeup tips to help women look their best during cancer treatment.