The Wig Exchange

Kate ConnKate Conn Profile Picture

Role: Co-Founder and Advisor, New York

About me: I am a four-year survivor of Stage 3A breast cancer.  I’m married to Paul and e have two adorable and active boys, Alex and Harry, ages 12 and 8.  After a twenty-year career in Sales and Marketing, I am thrilled to be, presently, a stay-at-home Mom.  In my spare time (ha-ha) I try to get in as many long walks as I can, spend time with my family and friends, support The Wig Exchange and volunteer on The Rye Cable and Communications Committee and The Little Garden Club of Rye.

Why I got involved? I got involved in The Wig Exchange because of a need to pay something forward to the next woman who gets a cancer diagnosis.  I was fortunate to have served on a local Rye committee with Sandy Samberg at the time of my diagnosis.  I knew about the work she does for cancer support and felt comfortable sharing my news with her.  Immediately she put me in touch with a number of survivors who helped me emotionally deal with my diagnosis and actually gave me practical information that affected decisions about my course of treatment.  I knew then that when I was finished with my treatments, I had to do the same for others.

As Paul and I got to know Sandy over the year that I was in treatment, we began a conversation about how we could do something positive and meaningful for newly diagnosed women.  I had a beautiful wig that I felt that I needed to do something with.  Paul had read an article about a woman who passed her wig from woman to woman as a good luck talisman, which, along with his years of experience with exchanges, helped spark our idea of how to structure our organization.  And Sandy had many requests for wigs through her organization, Sole Ryeders.  For the three of us, it all came together easily and The Wig Exchange was born.

The wig was the product that we were offering, but the advice and support was the real mission.  The most important thing that our Client Coordinators, can do for newly diagnosed women is to listen to them, pass along the most helpful information so that they can cope on a daily basis, and be there to support them.

What makes The Wig Exchange special? What makes The Wig Exchange special is beyond the wigs we loan out, beyond the support services we inform clients about or even beyond the notion of survivors helping the newly diagnosed.  It’s that we facilitate a remarkable aspect of how every woman touched by cancer wants to reach out and help no matter where they are in their treatment process.  For example, as I was meeting with a woman about a wig that we were going to loan her, she wanted to share with me a product that she felt would help others….a halo (partial) wig that was made with her own hair by a company called Hip Hats with Hair in Florida.  The idea is truly brilliant for any woman about to undergo Chemo for as long as they wear a hat, no one would know that they do not have their hair.  We have referred several (happier and calmer) clients to this company.  I will never forget this woman and the contribution that she made to our program while she herself was in the middle of her cancer battle.  Inspiring and made possible by the connections we make and the information we share at The Wig Exchange.