Nicole Tycz is one of many Idaho women affected by her cancer treatment, losing her hair during chemotherapy.
"Your whole body changes, from your skin color to the texture of your skin. As much as you prepare for it and think you're going to be okay, once you see the clumps of hair falling out into the shower, it's traumatizing," Tycz said.
But she's not facing the battle alone. There's a community of support within the Treasure Valley. Boise wig store Angels In Your Corner donates wigs to cancer patients, working closely with the American Cancer Society.
"Their hair is their identity and it also makes them feel feminine and just normal. And when they don't have hair, people look at them like they're sick. And they don't want to look sick, they want to look normal," said Deanna Huckabee, owner of Angels In Your Corner.
"Most women have the idea, 'I don't want to look like I'm wearing a wig. I don't want it to look fake. I want to feel like me.' So they don't normally feel positive about the whole situation when they come in here," said Darla Hoelscher, Huckabee's daughter and Angels owner.
"We want to turn that attitude around and make it a positive situation for them. Whether it's laughing at a ridiculous color on them or putting on a wig that wouldn't be a normal look for them, we just want to make them feel at home and at ease when they are here," Hoelscher said.
Tycz received a donated wig from Angels at her head shaving barbeque. She gathered close friends and family members to make what could be a scary moment, easier and fun.
"It was a brown wig, a gorgeous wig. When I went home and put it on, at first I cried because it didn't look like me, so it took me awhile to get used to it and confident wearing it," Tycz said.
She went to Angels a few weeks later to pick out a second wig.
"I had my grandma, my papa and my mom with me and we made a day out of it. I put this one on and instantly felt like myself," Tycz said while wearing her blonde wig.
"There's something here that's going to make them feel pretty. Whether it's a hat or a turban or a wig, or just us saying it's going to be okay," said Hoelscher.
"If you look good, you feel good. It is definitely true," Huckabee said.
And the American Cancer Society agrees. At the organization's Look Good, Feel Better program, women are taught how to cope with their hair and skin changes during their cancer treatment. Makeup, skin care, wigs and scarf tying are all covered in the class in a small, nurturing environment. Each participant receives a bag full of cosmetics to take home.
"There's a lot of laughter and there's a lot of fun. We want to take their mind off their treatment just for two hours. It's fun and we like to keep it very open, and we eat a lot of chocolate," said Look Good, Feel Better coordinator Barbara Stanton.
Stanton is a cancer survivor herself. She teaches the class alongside local beauty experts who volunteer their time.
"You'll meet a lot of really great ladies that are in the same situation as you. They might not have the same cancer as you, or be going through the same treatment, or have the same doctors, but you do have that one thing in common, and you do have cancer. A lot of bonding goes on in these classes. Sometimes women come in and they're going through this journey alone. They find somebody in the class that's doing the same thing and they can see each other through. It's a beautiful thing," Stanton said.
Danielle Perryman took a Look Good, Feel Better class after she had already started her first chemo treatments for breast cancer.
"I'd already lost my hair, but I was about to start a new chemotherapy called Taxol and I was going to lose my eyebrows and eyelashes. That was a little more worrisome for me. We got to play around with drawing on eyebrows. It really is an amazing night. I've developed friendships with amazing women that were in my class" Perryman said.
Perryman is now cancer free, and still keeps in touch with the women in her class.
"In the Look Good, Feel Better program, you meet other people going through the same thing as you, so you don't feel as isolated from that outside world. It makes you feel more unique in that you guys are going through it together," Perryman said.
And with that support system, the women can face anything.
The Look Good, Feel Better program is offered throughout the year in different locations in the Treasure Valley. For more information and to register for a class contact the American Cancer Society at (208)343-4609 and visit www.lookgoodfeelbetter.org .
Angels In Your Corner is located in Boise at 4111 W. State Street. For more information call (208)345-1551 and visit www.wigsinboise.com .