GLOVERSVILLE - After experiencing the horrors of cancer treatments through her patients and family, one local nurse has attempted to ease their suffering by donating her hair to Locks of Love not once, but five times.
Cindy Scunziano said it takes about a year and a half to grow her hair to the proper length. After each of her last five haircuts, she's donated her straight, blonde locks to Locks of Love, an organization that creates realistic wigs for cancer patients who have lost their hair due to chemotherapy.
Scunziano said she was a nurse in a cancer ward for several years and also has family who have gone through cancer treatments. After seeing their suffering, and the joy they felt after receiving a wig, Scunziano decided to donate her own hair. It's become a regular occurrence over the years and will probably continue, she said.
The Leader-Herald/Kayleigh Karutis
Rosalyn Roten, owner of Rosalyn’s Styling Salon in Gloversville, cuts Cindy Scunziano’s hair at the salon Dec. 15.
"It's something I can do to bring [the patients] a little happiness," she said.
Every year and a half or so, Scunziano goes to Rosalyn's Styling Salon on East Eighth Avenue and has her hair cut. Then she sends in the locks so they can be turned into a wig.
Rosalyn Roten, owner of the salon, said she is proud of what Scunziano is doing.
"I think it's great," she said. "It's fantastic."
Scunziano said donating her hair is particularly special to her because her younger sister went through cancer treatments. After chemotherapy, her sister's waist-long hair fell out in clumps.
"She had just beautiful hair," Scunziano said.
Scunziano's sister, Stacy Cool of Oppenheim, said she's honored her older sister donates her hair in part because of her.
"I was 27 years old when I found out I had breast cancer," she said. "Cindy knew what I was going through. She sent me packages and cards every week, anything to cheer me up."
Cool said she was devastated when she lost her hair but felt like she regained some happiness and dignity when she got a wig.
"It was horrifying, looking into the mirror. It just came out in clumps," she said. "My husband said, 'Let's just take it off.' So he and my son and I all shaved our heads together. It was difficult, but [receiving a wig] made it a little easier."
Cool, who has been in remission for many years, said some people might think something as small as hair wouldn't make a big difference in their quality of life. It does, though, she said.
"My hair always had to be just so," she said. "Losing it was really difficult."
Scunziano's husband, John Scunziano, agreed.
"It helps make people feel like they look normal," he said. "Hair isn't life or death, but it's all about quality of life."
Scunziano, a nurse at Lexington Center in?Johnstown, said she plans to donate her hair as long as she can. It's a small measure, she said, but something she can do. She said she encourages others to do it too.
Holding up two ponytails of her own hair at Rosalyn's on Dec. 15, her newly shorn locks just reaching her chin, she said it makes her proud knowing that her contribution will make a cancer patient happy.
"They can do a lot with this," she said of her donation. "And my hair grows so fast."