Evelyn Markin knows all too well the anxiety caused from losing your hair from chemotherapy treatment.
As if facing a battle with cancer isn’t tough enough.
“I have gone through it myself. When you are first diagnosed with cancer of any sort and you know you are gong to have chemo and you are going to lose your hair, it can be very traumatic for some women,” said Markin, who is the co-ordinator for the Mirror Image wig service out of the Canadian Cancer Society resource centre in Penticton.
It is one of the reasons why she volunteers for the service that provides free wigs for women in the area and how she came up with a unique fundraiser. The Penticton School of Hair donates styrofoam heads to the Mirror Image room to display their wigs as they are now moving to neoprene heads. Sitting with a room full of styrofoam heads and not knowing what to do with them, Markin had an idea.
“I had about 10 to 12 heads left over and I know they can’t be recycled, and so the only thing I could do with them would be throw them in the garbage. I was reluctant to do that, and thought what could I do with them?” said Markin.
Asking an artist friend if she could try painting on one to see if it would work, turned her small idea into a full-blown fundraiser.
“When people saw them they said: ‘Wow, those look really neat.’ Then it grew by word of mouth, other artists found out and said they would like to do one too. It spread on social media and we got a couple of artists even from Kelowna. Now I have 23 heads,” said Markin.
On April 30, the Getting A-Head of Cancer fundraiser will take place at 6 p.m. in Theo’s Restaurant. This will be a no-host event and to participate people are asked to make a donation of $25 or more to the Canadian Cancer Society or online at cancerevents.kintera.org/evelyn_mark and their name will be put in a draw for the unique pieces of artwork.
“It really has mushroomed, but it has been great. Everyone had an absolutely different idea of what they would do with them,” said Markin.
“One artist has a friend just diagnosed with breast cancer, so she asked what was important to her and she said the support from other women. So her head has pictures of women drawn all around it. Another is called Zen Doodle and took the artist 30 hours to complete. The only thing I asked of the artists was to have a daffodil incorporated because that is the sign of hope.”
Markin said the heads are not only unique but are a great conversation starter for a business to have in their office. The artwork and fundraiser are also a great way to help spread the word about Mirror Image.
The program runs with the help of four volunteers and Nancy Fletcher from the Penticton School of Hair, who trims and fashions the wigs at appointments with the women who use the service. Brenda Thompson assists with any sewing needs for the other types of head coverings Mirror Image offers. Everything used in the program is donated and Markin said anyone wanting to help or donate wigs can do so by visiting them at 101-106 Main St.
“When women come in they are upset or anxious about what they are going to look like when they start chemotherapy. I know there has been a number of people that have walked out of here very thankful for this free service,” she said. “They can actually walk out with a smile on their face knowing they are going to be looking good.”
Seating for the Getting A-Head of Cancer fundraiser is limited and those wanting to join are asked to make reservations by calling Theo’s at 250-492-4019. All of the artists involved have been invited to the event to be properly acknowledged and, if they choose to, share the motivation behind their piece.