Rock Hill breast cancer survivor helps other women feel beautiful

Facing breast cancer can be difficult. No one knows that better than someone that has been through it, like Gail Cooke, who, for months and months, spent her days in treatment fighting cancer as hard as she could.

Now she spends her days in the “New Attitude Room” at Piedmont Medical Center, helping women who are fighting every day, just like she did.

“It’s delightful to see what an impact it has on people,” Cooke said.

The New Attitude Room is full of wigs, scarves, hats, pins and jewelry – all donated to local women who are fighting breast and other types of cancer, and the hair loss that often accompanies chemotherapy.

Cooke and her colleague, Judy LoTruglio, help these women find the right wigs and scarves to make them feel beautiful. They do it all free of charge.

“It’s bad enough to have to go through (cancer),” Cooke said. “But then to have to look different, too. It’s very hard for a lot of people.”

And high-quality wigs, she said, can be very expensive.

But when a patient comes to Cooke and walks out “feeling wonderful,” she said, and feeling like themselves again with a wig on, there’s a joy that’s hard to match.

All of the scarves, wigs and other accessories are donated by people in the community. Often the wigs are donated by people who, like Cooke, battled cancer themselves and want to help other women. And the community is very giving, she said.

A recent Facebook post seeking assistance for the New Attitude Room garnered about 75 individual donations, said Katie Price, Piedmont’s manager of marketing and public relations.

And the New Attitude Room is just one of many services the hospital offers patients to help them through cancer and what lies beyond, Cooke said. The hospital also has support groups, a knitting and crocheting club, and “Look Good Feel Better,” a program co-sponsored by the hospital, the American Cancer Society and the National Cosmetology Association that helps women learn how to deal cosmetically with skin changes and hair loss.

While these programs offer plenty of information to those dealing with cancer, Cooke said the most valuable thing they all offer is companionship with other women who know exactly what they are dealing with.

“We try to have the support for everyone,” she said. “I want to help everybody who’s going through this.”

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