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Rebecca Morgan | Chester, UK

I am 55 years of age , a former engineer and changed my career over 20 years ago to become a hairdresser , a career I always wanted to do but my parents really were against it and influenced me to do an apprenticeship at Rolls Royce as an engineer of which i did very successfully but absolutely disliked every second of it . I had my children at 27 and 31 years of age and once they were both in school i decided to follow my dream career in hairdressing . I didn’t do this the conventional way, I opened a salon with a business partner who was a qualified hairdresser , and I managed the running of the salon until i qualified with in 18 months to level 3. We continued to work together to build a very successful busy salon employing many staff . During this time a close friend of mine was diagnosed with breast cancer , she had visited the approved NHS wig supplier at our local hospital to choose a wig as she would be losing her hair from her cancer treatment. Her experience really was not a pleasant one, and once she had received the wig she then asked me to cut it for her as she said “this wig belongs on a lead not on my head”. I customised the wig for , and sourced a more suitable alternative for her . While my friend had her good days while going through chemotherapy we would go walking together and she would tell me her thoughts about her diagnosis, the affects it had on her being told she would have to have both of her breasts removed , she would also lose her hair her eye brows, her eyelashes. All of this happened and she also had many more devastating side effects including losing her finger nails & toe nails , her skin was extremely dry and itchy ,everything she tasted was awful. And then there was the sickness. I was totally unaware of any of the above and how chemotherapy was such a cruel treatment. My friend was so devastated at losing her hair , her children were young and she didn’t want them to see their mother without hair. I learnt so much from my friend about losing her hair , she felt she had lost her identity and personality without hair and felt so alone and unsexy for her husband , she told me how her experience with the wig fitter was so cold , she had no empathy or understanding of how women were feeling . Gave no advice on hair regrowth , wig aftercare or any of the other visual skin and nail side effects chemotherapy would have on an individual.
My friend did ask me to shave her hair once it started to fall out which we both sobbed while doing it. I will never forget the conversation we had , she said she had spoken to other ladies on the ward who had had to ask their husband or child to shave their hair off . Of which she was grateful she hadn’t had to do that.
I then started to offer my services voluntarily at the hospital to talk with ladies after doing lots of research about chemo related pre and post hair loss and re growth , customize their wigs , shave their hair off , talk about make up tips and tricks to disguise losing their lashes and eyebrows. Talking to mums about how to approach the hair loss subject with their children , how to protect their scalp from dryness , the sun , the cold. I volunteer my services for 2 years . In the meantime I continued my full-time hairdressing services , being a mum too my sons and a career for my mother-in-law. It was a busy time but i grew more and more passionate about helping people with hair loss . I contacted various charities connected with cancer and hair loss and started to help children and young adults facing hair loss from cancer treatment , alopecia, TRICHOTILLOMANIA, and other medical hair loss conditions with the charity the little princess trust. I ran workshops for Macmillan , tenovus and look good feel better . All cancer related charities. We also registered with Alopecia uk . My hair loss services were really getting known and I started selling wigs and hair toppers . I realised this was a much-needed service so i left the business partner ship and 11 years ago opened the doors of the 1st morgans salon.

A scary experience but from day one it was something else . Helping people with hair loss issues every day was so rewarding . In the meantime the NHS hospital was still the same situation and I enquired how I could possibly help. This was a difficult tendering process of which i never imagined I would get through let alone become successful and become an NHS Supplier of wigs in North Wales . This was beyond my wildest dreams and expectations. But I embraced it and offered services to 3 hospitals in North Wales. Often visiting wards to help poorly patients , home visits and salon visits . I still continued my regular hair clients and employed other hairstylists. I trained two other stylists to assist with the hair loss clients and we soon our grew our first salon , moved to bigger premises and employed more staff . Including our first employee with learning difficulties Catrin.