LIST: SCHOOL CLOSINGS/DELAYS IN CHICAGO AREA

Free haircuts help cancer patients gain confidence on their road to recovery

HINSDALE, Ill. — For nearly 30 years, "Wellness House" in Hinsdale has provided free health and exercise programs for those battling cancer.

Last month they added one more program to address what's perhaps the most outward sign of cancer: hair loss. In addition to providing complimentary wigs and wig styling, Wellness House is now offering free haircuts to cancer patients.

"I feel lucky that I'm finally seeing my hair grow back," Candy Fraser said. "But styling the regrowth can be challenging when it comes back like patchy peach fuzz."

Jeannie Cella, CEO of Wellness House says it's an opportunity to help their clients feel more confident and less vulnerable.

"It's like a billboard saying, 'I've been diagnosed with cancer,' whether they want others to know or not. So for them to come in here and get that boost that brings back the confidence they once had, is just a tremendous gift," Cella said.

With the help of volunteer professional stylists, Wellness House hopes to give their clients an opportunity to find their best look in a private space they feel comfortable in.

"It made me feel really good...almost like I was back to normal!" Fraser said after admiring her new cropped haircut.

Stylist Anthony Tuzzzolino says giving Fraser her first post-chemo haircut made him feel good too.

"It feels just as good to help somebody feel better as it does to be the one getting the new look," Tuzzolino said.

Since opening their doors in 1980, Wellness House has impacted over 40,000 people through free social, emotional, physical and psychological assistance programs aimed at lifting cancer's burden.

Offered at no cost and as a complement to patient's ongoing medical treatment, Wellness House plans to expand their reach into Chicago by months' end. Through a partnership with UI Health, Wellness House hopes to provide even more opportunities for patients in an underserved area.

The slew of new programs, including exercise, support groups, nutrition programs and stress management classes will be offered at the UI Health Mile Square Health Center in the Chicago Medical District beginning on January 28th.

Anyone affected by cancer is welcome to attend programming at Mile Square Health Center or Hinsdale's Wellness House, and can find more  information at wellnesshouse.org or call 630-323-5150.

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