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Charity offers hair, peace for cancer patients

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A UMNS photo by John Gordon

Pat Julkowski (right), manager of a hair-loss studio for women, shows a wig to Hair Peace Charities founder Bonny Diver.
May 15, 2006

By John Gordon*


Debbie Glatz yells encouragement to her 6-year-old son at a T-ball game. As Glatz faces the challenges of recently being diagnosed with breast cancer, she said her family means everything.

“I have to get better for them,” she said.

Besides support from her family, Glatz will not be alone on her journey through months of chemotherapy and, later, surgery and radiation treatment. Bonny Diver, a breast-cancer survivor who founded Hair Peace Charities with encouragement from her United Methodist church, will be there to help.

“My way of being active to fight cancer is through education and through helping other women,” Diver explained, “and doing what I can to attack the cancer that’s out there and say, ‘We’re not going to let this get the best of you.’”

Hair Peace helped Glatz buy a wig when her hair fell out, a common side effect of chemotherapy. Diver said most Pennsylvania insurance companies will not pay for wigs, adding to the financial burden for cancer patients.

“I knew that that would be one of the hardest parts, losing my hair,” said Glatz, a registered nurse at a children’s hospital. “It happened 17 days after the first chemotherapy treatment, it started to come out.”

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A UMNS photo by John Gordon

Bonny Diver (right) visits with cancer patient Debbie Glatz.

Glatz called the wig a “big confidence booster.” She said it helps her four children — Alex, 6; Sarah, 8; Justin, 12; and Jared, 14 — feel more at ease.

“One day, I just had a hat on without the wig,” she recalled. “My 6-year-old son said to me, ‘Mommy, you look scary without your hair. You don’t look like my mom. I need you to put your hair back on.’”

Diver, a radio announcer and a member of Ingomar United Methodist Church in Pittsburgh, offers more than wigs to cancer patients.

“We thought that would be our first initial contact to help women with getting the $100 voucher,” she said. “By accepting that gift from us, though, they have to accept our prayers.”

The names of cancer patients are put on a prayer list e-mailed to church members. Patients receive cards and offers for babysitting and meals. Church members also make prayer quilts.

A youth group from Ingomar plants flowers at the homes of cancer patients.

“This is a really nice thing to do for people who can’t do it for themselves,” said church member Sam Sweeney, 14. “It makes you feel really good about yourself, like doing something nice for someone else.”

Church member Loris Ziener said the flowers brightened her yard—and her spirits. “They give me that continued hope,” she added. “It’s spring, it’s that hope, and along with it the beauty of the flowers.”

LINK: Click to open full size version of image
A UMNS photo by John Gordon

Amanda Hopta (left) and Julie Henderson of Ingomar United Methodist Church plant flowers at the home of a cancer patient.

Diver also provides a listening ear and the guidance of someone who has gone through the difficulties of cancer treatment. “It’s a fight,” she said. “It’s the fight that I want to have. It’s the battle against cancer.”

Diver was diagnosed with breast cancer three years ago. She found a lump after falling from a horse and breaking her shoulder. Now cancer-free, she credited her faith with helping her through surgery and radiation treatment.

“It really was very apparent to me that there was a presence of God in my life, and that’s why I call it peace, p-e-a-c-e, Hair Peace,” she said.

Glatz said she looks forward to the day when her treatment is over and she can volunteer with Hair Peace Charities.

“I want to get better and get through this, and help other people that are going through the same thing,” she said. “Because it’s tough, but there’s an end to it. And I’m looking for that light at the end of the tunnel.”

For more information on Hair Peace Charities, e-mail Diver at or call (412) 734-5204.


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