The reality star battling ovarian cancer hunts for the best wigs at the best prices
In her PEOPLE.com blog, Diem Brown, the Real World/Road Rules Challenge contestant recently diagnosed with ovarian cancer for the second time, opens up about her desire for a child and the ups and downs of cancer and fertility procedures.
First, thank you all so very much for your comments. I honestly read all of them and love hearing your thoughts and opinions. And who doesn’t love blessings/words of encouragement? 😉
Now comes the “fun” part: Looking for a wig. I had donated the wig from my first bout with ovarian cancer, obviously never thinking that the cancer would return and hoping another patient could use it during their fight.
I took out the list of New York City wig shops that the nurse had given me and started calling from top to bottom. Some of them had gone out of business or were wrong numbers. Some of them required an appointment, but were booked full for a week. And one wig shop charged a fee for every 20 minutes you were there for a consultation.
I Googled that last one, disgusted but curious about the patients’ reviews. Sure enough, it was patient after patient complaining about how this particular wig company was taking advantage of people undergoing chemotherapy. One patient said she spent over $150 on a consultation because she wanted to look at another wig store to compare prices.
Most people don’t know the cost of a human-hair wig. I never did. I think most people would be shocked to find out that most cost anywhere from $1,200 to $3,000, depending on length and origin of the hair. If you want it custom or altered in some way, the price can go up to $5,000!
I got my original wig six years ago from a Hasidic Jewish salon for $1,500. Hasidic Jewish salons are great places to go get wigs, as women in that religion wear wigs once they get married. So, needless to say, they have a ton of experience, along with an amazing selection of wigs.
The Social Network
After getting frustrated with the list of New York City wig shops from the hospital, I went to the place I always go if I’m looking for answers – social networks, baby!
I Tweeted and Facebooked asking if anyone knew of a great wig shop in New York. Patients, if you are having trouble with this or have general questions, I would 100 percent suggest putting your question out there on your social networks, as you are bound to receive some sort of answer or guidance.
From my Facebook post and Tweets, I complied a list of suggestions. I found out that the American Cancer Society, Cancer Care and the Y-ME Organization all give patients free wigs. I also got the names of three local wig shops that sell human-hair wigs. One of them was Andrew Disimone.
Andrew answered the phone right away and was the sweetest man, taking time to educate me, telling me about synthetic wigs with lace fronts that look amazingly real for a fraction of the cost. Andrew is an angel, as he also gives free wigs to kids going through chemotherapy.
One of the coolest things about wigs today has to be the lace front! The hairline is usually the spot that gives it away as a wig, but the lace front will blow you away with how real it looks!
Along with a Hasidic Jewish salon in Brooklyn, I found this cool wig company, Your Hair X, that can take parts of your real hair and incorporate them into the hairline of the wig, making it look ridiculously real. You can even wear your hair up in a ponytail, which is kind of unreal in the wig world.
I obviously became wig obsessed, but I did all this research for a reason: I wanted to help the hospital update their wig list by having information about wigs, along with wig-shop options, ranging from less expensive synthetic hair to the expensive, custom, human-hair pieces.
How to Have Your Wig Covered
Now, what’s cool about all the wig options is that if done right, you can submit your “wig receipt” to your insurance company and get reimbursed for the money you spent!
Here’s how it works: Ask your doctor for a prescription for a “medical hair prosthesis for the mental well-being of the patient,” and ask your doctor to put your ICD-9 code on the prescription as well. (And ICD-9 is also known as the diagnosis code.)
It sounds silly, but having a prescription for your wig written out that way will help make it easier to get reimbursed.
Again, if you can’t afford a wig, please check out the American Cancer Society, which will not only help find a free or reduced-price wig, but will also help patients find support programs and other financial services in their area.
Check back for updates every Thursday: Diem will be chronicling her journey through fertility treatments, chemotherapy, and her quest to educate others about ovarian health exclusively for PEOPLE.com. You can also follow her on Twitter @DiemBrown.
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