When Janet Horne was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in June of 2020, she didn’t have an outlet for the transformation she was going through. As a cosmetologist, she helped with the American Cancer Society’s Look Good Feel Better program long before her diagnosis. But when her call came, the program had come to an end.
The program would help people who lost their hair due to cancer treatment learn how to apply makeup, wigs and eyelashes. In the program, she was able to console the members but didn’t know how to help.
“Before I got cancer I didn’t know how to help them. I would just be as consoling as I could. It’s very traumatic,” Horne said. “So when I got cancer, and I lost my hair in I would just walk past a mirror and go, ‘man I’m ugly.’”
Her initial instinct to this realization was crying out to God. She worried about being ugly now that her hair was gone and her skin started to see the effects of chemotherapy.
As this was during the pandemic, she began to see clients not schedule her anymore in an act to protect her from the virus or simply to free her from working as much.
Over time, she lost about 80% of her clients.
All the while Horne said she was learning how to apply the steps and lessons she learned at the Look Good Feel Better Program.
The hardest task for her was applying eyelashes to where hers used to be. With the help of her daughter, she was able to place them and get better at them. She said during this time she began getting better and was able to do other things that would help her feel more like a woman.
“It took two or three months. I got my nails done and my toes done. Everything that I could do to possibly feel like a woman,” Horne said.
While she never wore a wig as a cosmetologist, she found herself around hair every day. She was at the hair store buying supplies when she was approached to help someone in the store with cancer.
She talked to the lady and learned that she had been diagnosed with brain cancer. While the lady had hair about to her shoulder, Horne jumped in and asked if she could look under the hat to see if she could help.
Horne found the lady was losing most of her hair on the back of her head. Horne took pictures and showed her instantly.
Shocked, the lady asked if Horne could help and two days later she was in Horne’s salon getting her first wig installed. Horne said it helped her go from feeling helpless and alone to smiling and comfortable.
“That night when I went home, it was the best day of my life because I’m laying there in the bed with the dog saying my prayers and I’m just like, ‘God, this is how I want to feel every day for the rest of my life. Every day,’” Horne said.
This time through happy tears, she asked God to show her what she needed to do.
Inspired by that moment and now that she learned to apply everything on her own, she is providing cancer patients the opportunity to learn to do the same and supplying them with kits with all the equipment needed.
Within the kit she puts eyelashes, eyebrow shadow and other products to help.
Along with the kit, she also is providing more services to cut hair for people with cancer. If they are losing their hair due to cancer-related reasons, she is cutting their hair free and willing to help in any capacity.
The big thing Horne said is that people need a place to not only help them feel comfortable but also something that they can afford.
“[Cancer patients] need a place they can go. They need a place they can afford. So I need to get wigs so that they can afford, not wigs that their insurance has to pay for. And by the time they leave here, they need everything to be in a little kit,” Horne said.
The hope is that clients will be able to have everything they need, that way they will not have to seek it elsewhere. As she’s helped her clients she reminds them of her own life motto: “You live your best life no matter what.”
This reminder helped Horne build her confidence and she is excited to serve other customers as they come in during a pivotal time in their lives.