Rye Cancer Survivor Starts Wig Exchange

RYE, N.Y. - When Rye resident Kate Conn met Sandy Samberg in 2009, she had no idea the role Rye's resident cancer activist would play in her life. Less than a year after getting to know Samberg from the "Heard in Rye" Committee, Conn was diagnosed with cancer.

Samberg, who is the founder of Sole Ryeders in Rye, was quick to offer support to both Conn and her family.

"Sandy and I became friends and she brought me a lot of support to help me get through chemo," Conn said. "As the months went on and I began to get better, we wanted to find a way to make a positive out of my experience."

Conn was shocked to discover, like most female chemo-therapy patients, that the cost of wigs was upward of $3,000 and relatively uncovered by most insurance companies. It was this discovery that led Conn to create a wig exchange for women.

"If you’re a working woman then you have to have a wig," Conn said. "It’s a practical thing and if your insurance doesn’t cover it then it can deter how a woman approaches chemo and how they feel without a wig or an inexpensive wig."

The "Wig Exchange" is a program sponsored by Samberg's Friends of Sole Ryeders and offers a much less expensive way for female chemo therapy patients by renting out the donated high quality wigs. According to Conn, the program has already received more than 60 wigs from personal donations and organizations like Paul Lupinacci's "Adam and Eve" in Scarsdale.

Conn said the program is more than just a traditional consumer experience as it offers its clients an opportunity to hear the inspirational survivor stories behind the wigs.

"We want to help our clients with styling and fittings," Conn said. "But the real key is providing support services. It's really exciting to see people connect through this medium especially when you're dealing with something like cancer. It's uplifting to know where the wigs have been, it's like we are say 'Here’s a wig, you’re going to be fine.'"

The Wig Exchange announced its launch this week and has already had its first client in Camille Bova. Bova, according to Conn, fell in love with a wig that was donated by a 20-year-old ovarian cancer survivor who had been searching for decades for "the right place" to donate her wig.

"I truly appreciate their enthusiasm in helping me find a wig," Bova said in a statement. "Their interest, concern and willingness to help women with cancer look better and feel better about themselves is wonderful."

To donate wigs to the Wig Exchange or to learn how to get involved contact Kate Conn at 914-412-4884.

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