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Wig Warriors NJ
Jan 04, 2019

Wig Warriors Helps Those Fighting Cancer

By Joanne Colella

Wig Warriors NJ

For some, hair styling is a profession. For others, it is a calling. And for some very special people, it is a passion that comes from the heart – particularly when that styling is done for cancer patients, through a foundation created in memory of a beloved mother, grandmother, sister, and friend. Michele Konopko Lawson is one of those very special people. She owns Hair & Co. salon in Red Bank, where she worked for many years before taking over the business, where the staff appears to be one big family and every client is warmly welcomed and treated as a friend. On November 18, that circle of warmth grew a bit wider, with a ribbon cutting ceremony and celebration for the official opening of Wig Warriors-The Maureen S. Konopko Foundation, based at the salon at 12-14 White Street. The foundation has been a dream of Michele’s for many years and is named in honor of her stepmother Maureen Konopko, who is also remembered as a loving grandmother, sister, and friend. Michele’s sons, sister, and dear friends sit on the board of Wig Warriors.

“I have been a volunteer with cancer patients since about 2000 or 2001 and I still volunteer at the American Cancer Society,” Michele explains. “I teach a makeup class called the Look Good, Feel Better program and I also help with wigs as a wig coordinator. My mom was diagnosed with cancer in the year 2000 and unfortunately lost her battle in 2006. Her experience definitely led me in the direction of volunteering. I felt more than compelled to help these patients after seeing her struggle. Being that I am a hairstylist, I figured that was the best avenue for me: to help with wigs and makeup and to help the patients byWig warriors 2 teaching them how to draw on eyebrows and about skin care and wig care. The foundation I’ve established, based on my last 19 years of working with cancer patients, was created not only to honor my mom’s memory, but also because, through these years, I have realized there is such a great need for patients to have a place to go and someone to turn to that will deal with the cosmetic side effects from this terrible disease.”

The mission of Wig Warriors is to empower women and restore their confidence as they navigate through the cosmetic impact of cancer treatments by providing services, free of charge, that include wigs, scarves, head wraps, and head coverings; a consultation and plan of action to help patients deal with all the stages of hair loss they will face during the next year or so; haircuts and shaving; wig fittings, wig styling, and ongoing wig care during treatment, such as shampooing, cutting, and upkeep; and makeup classes for eyebrows and eyelashes.

In a post from 2017 about Breast Cancer Awareness Month that she recently reposted on the Wig Warriors Facebook page, Michele gave some poignant insight into what propels her, recalling the cancer that has touched, and sometimes taken, so many of her family members, friends, and clients. They are, she explains, the reason for what she does.

In that October post, she shared her experiences with three different women, writing, “Over the last month, I had the honor of meeting a woman who was at the end of her fight for her life. She asked me if I could help her with her wig, which once fit her very well. She now was a fraction of the person she once was, but this was not true of her spirit and I am truly humbled by her strength. She asked if I could lighten the color a bit and cut the wig to frame her face. She was quite frank with me, sharing that she wanted to make sure that she looked good during the services for her family. The wig came out beautiful, but unfortunately, soon after she lost her battle with cancer. On the morning of her wake, I went to the funeral home and curled her wig. She looked beautiful, as I promised her and her family that she would. I will be forever grateful to have known her; though our relationship was so very brief, the impact this has made on my life is so much greater than you can even imagine. Then yesterday, I helped a woman who is at the beginning of the fight for her life. Although she was struggling so terribly with all the side effects from chemo, she was so happy, upbeat, positive, and truly grateful that I could help her find a wig. Well, we not only found one, but two perfect wigs for her. She looked fabulous and I was so happy to be able to help her. We trimmed them up and she was on her way. Today, I cut and colored my client whose hair is finally growing back. She made it through the fight for her life. We cut a cool, Wig Warriors 3funky short cut and colored it back to what was her natural color before chemotherapy and she looked fabulous. Who would that think just one year ago, we were at the beginning of the battle for her life, shaving her head and finding her the perfect wig. Then today to watch her walk out of the salon looking chic and fabulous in her new cut and color – she looked awesome! It made my heart absolutely smile. I am truly amazed by the strength of these women. Though my own tragic loss is what fueled me to help others, I am extremely humbled and forever grateful to help these women at such a time in their lives. To be able to use my talent to help others has been the absolute greatest gift of all.”

Wig Warriors – The Maureen S. Konopko Foundation is now up and running. They are accepting donations as well as new and gently used wigs that can be brought to the salon to be cleaned and styled before being donated to someone in need. If you, or someone you know, is dealing with the side effects of chemotherapy or other cancer treatments, please share the Facebook page at Wig Warriors the Maureen S. Konopko Foundation, call 732-747-6983, or see Michele Konopko Lawson at Hair & Co. in Red Bank.