Marlisa Dillon has experienced the loss of hair from chemotherapy treatments and that has been the motivation for starting a nonprofit organization that has provided over 500 wigs for cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy.
“I’m a 21-year cancer survivor,’’ Dillon says. “Losing my hair was very traumatic.’’
She started providing wigs in January 2011. “I pride myself on being able to help women look natural -- I have helped a lot of women feel better about going out in public.’’ Wearing a lightweight wig “gives them their dignity.’’
Dillon is certified in styling wigs and will have more training in November. “I am a wig specialist,’’ she says. The cost ranges from $169 for a wig of synthetic hair to more than $3,000 for natural hair.
These are not your grandmother’s wigs, or even your mother’s. “Wigs have come a long way,’’ Dillon says.
In the past year, Dillon’s non-profit has provided $12,000 worth of wigs to chemo patients, and since January 2011, the value is close to $20,000. “I’m able to do this through my fundraising. I’ve been able to help every lady, little girl, or man.’’
The 3rd Annual Bold & Beautiful Wigs for Cancer benefit fundraiser will be Oct. 17 at the Spanish Galleon in North Myrtle Beach. “I’m anticipating -- and praying for -- a full house’’ or 800 people, she says.
That would be nearly double the number at last’s year’s benefit at another venue. The first event drew 250 people and raised $3,000. Sponsorships have been added this year and organizers of the benefit have a number of sponsors including two $1,000 platinum sponsors. The Craig Woolard Band is playing for a greatly reduced fee and master of ceremonies DJ Ray Scott is donating his services, as is auctioneer Jane Squires.
Wigs for Cancer is one of the four charities for which Dillon, a popular singer, raised thousands of dollars over the summer at weekly performances at Martini’s in North Myrtle Beach. The others are the Veterans Welcome Home and Resource Center of Little River, Help 4 Kids - Backpack Buddies, and the North Strand Housing Shelter.
Originally from Greensboro, N.C., Dillon “started singing Gospel music as a child, and has been singing professionally here on the beach for 12 years.’’
In putting together the benefit, “I’ve had a lot of help; it’s been a group effort.’’ She recalls visiting the office of the North Myrtle Beach Chamber of Commerce and leaving with member commitments for several donations for the live auction. “I’ve got a really great support team.’’
The number of wigs given to chemo patients, regardless of ability or inability to pay, averages two or three every business day, Dillon says, giving one an idea of the great number of chemotherapy patients.
“I don’t know of anyone who hasn’t been touched in some way by cancer.’’