Women in the Wells County area who have lost hair due to cancer treatments have a convenient and economical alternative to purchasing a wig. Jerri Lehman, owner of Lehman Styling Salon and Lehman Barber Shop, offers the use of her wig bank and professional styling services at no charge to women experiencing those conditions. As a volunteer with the American Cancer Society in its Fort Wayne office, Lehman is authorized to distribute a supply of eight wigs in her shop located at 303 West Market Street in Bluffton for clients to try on and choose to keep at no charge.
Lehman, a Southern Wells High School graduate, has an understanding of medical procedures after working 37 years at Bluffton Regional Medical Center as a receptionist, ward clerk, transporter, and driver of the medical unit vehicles. She has also worked as Wells County’s Emergency Management Agency director.
In March 2008 Lehman returned to college to become a hair stylist and licensed barber. While a student at Ravenscroft Beauty College in Fort Wayne, Lehman volunteered to help women find a wig offered by the American Cancer Society that would provide a pretty look for them during chemotherapy and radiation. “People seem to feel comfortable talking to me,” she said.
Lehman began servicing clients with free new wigs in her shop in December 2009. Thus far, Lehman has distributed four wigs to clients ranging in age from 25 to 83. People living outside of Wells County are welcome to visit Lehman’s shop for wigs, although she does require appointments. These are usually scheduled within 48 hours of initial contact. “If a woman sees her hair fall out in the shower, she is panicky and anxious to talk to me,” she said.
Lehman guides each client through her merchandise, offering suggestions based on skin tone, age, and personal preferences.
“Women usually want a wig styled so it looks like what they had with their natural hair,” she said. “They want to be recognized.”
Lehman also offers skin care classes for these same clients. “I help women learn how to wear make-up, clean their skin and position the wigs,” she said. The classes, like the wigs, include a free scalp treatment and pedicure.
Lehman does not put a time limit on the appointments, which can take two hours. “I close the salon so it is just me and the client and one family member to offer support,” she said. Lehman may trim the client’s hair or shave it all off if it has started to come out in clumps. She will also show the client how to put on the wig, tighten it, wash and style it. “Most women are quite devastated at the loss of their hair,” said Lehman. “They often come to my shop looking down or with their arms crossed. By the time they leave, they feel empowered, bubbly, and have a lot of self-esteem.”
Lehman’s shop is also a registered location for Locks of Love, a program in which people may donate hair to create wigs for people with cancer.
Lehman has a personal interest in helping people with cancer as a volunteer not only with the wig program but also Wells County’s Relay for life. “One of my best friends died from cancer and I want to give back to those who need help,” she said.
Reprinted with permission of the News-Banner
303 W. Market Street