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13 On Your Side of Town: Meet the Wyoming woman working to provide free wigs for cancer patients

Gayle Vaartjes was diagnosed with cancer in 2004. Now, her business Kostume Room provides free wigs for cancer patients in need.

WYOMING, Mich. — Receiving a cancer diagnosis is devastating, and for some women, losing their hair in the process makes matters worse.

For many, their hair is a sense of identity, and that was the case for Gayle Vaartjes, the owner of Kostume Room in Wyoming. Her business is the go-to location to get clothes and accessories to dress up. Now, it is also a place for women in need to get a wig.

“I got cancer in 2004. I got ovarian cancer of all things,” Vaartjes said. “I had lost my hair and everything. And I didn't want to go bald.”

Vaartjes was headed to a party and ordered a wig. However, the wig didn't come in time. So, she had to wear a wig from the store. Vaartjes knows firsthand what it felt like being a cancer patient and losing her hair. She wanted to help women battling the same fight.

“So, then it just occurred to me, you know, I should really provide these wigs for other women going through cancer,” Vaartjes said.

Vaartjes initially partnered with the American Cancer Society. She helped provide wigs to the wig bank, and after a few years, she continued to do so on her own at her business on 36th Street. Vaartjes is bringing hope to women who are fighting cancer and feeling down about losing their hair.

“I think you can tell right now, how much it just makes me so happy that I can provide the service for these ladies,” said Vaartjes. “I cry with them. It means tons to me, you know, and it's my pleasure to be able to do that for our community.”

Gale said she purchases synthetic wigs to give to these women who are fighting for their lives. But it is expensive, which makes her so appreciative of any donations people send her way.  

“That would really help,” said Vaartjes. “A lot of ladies will give a donation towards the wig, but they don't have to, you know, it's okay, if they don't, but that money really helps. So, I can get more wigs for my collection.”

Kostume Room, a place that provides people with clothes and accessories to dress up for a day, but also a place providing a ray of hope for women battling cancer and in need of a pick me up—or in this case, a wig.

To help Vaartjes buy more wigs, click here


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