Grief and Gratitude

| Hair Matters | Client Stories

In 2020 cancer cut short the lives of more than 600,000 Americans, according to the American Cancer Society. Inevitably, some of those lost lives are clients of Hair Matters. Clients like Donna Lanouette.

Donna was first diagnosed with breast cancer 22 years ago in 1998. She battled it twice more over the years, but in April of 2020, she learned it had metastasized. Six months later, Donna and Gary found their way to Hair Matters.

Debby Porter, Hair Matters’ founder, met with Donna and Gary. They spent considerable time selecting and fitting Donna for a wig. Debby customized the hairpiece and gently instructed her in the wearing, cleaning, and proper use of products. All this in a supportive, nurturing environment with a trained stylist who understood their complicated emotions.

At Hair Matters, they found comfort and support. They were nurtured, listened to, and validated. Donna’s warmth, in turn, humbled us. The strength of Donna and Gary’s love and compassion for one another endeared them deeply to us.

Born in Massachusetts, Donna spent all but the first 12 years of her life in Maine. She met Gary while at South Portland High School, from which she graduated in 1961. They married in 1966 and had two children.

Even while raising her children, Donna worked as a medical office administrator, managing several practices in the greater Portland area. Described as a loving, attentive, and caring mother, she selflessly engaged with the activities of her children and, later, her grandchildren. She loved to travel and had a deep interest in genealogy, leaving extensive records of family history for her children to explore.

This tribute to Donna and her life was put together and generously shared by her family.

Donna’s wig would only be worn a few times. In early December, Gary informed us that Donna had passed on Dec. 2, 2020, at age 77.

As we mourn the loss of Donna, we salute the kindness of Gary, who, in the midst of his grief, reached back out to Hair Matters. 

In a beautiful act of kindness, Gary has re-gifted the wig to Hair Matters. Struck by how “kind, caring, and responsive we were with his wife and himself,” Gary returned Donna’s wig for us to give to someone in need.

Sadly, while her body was overcome by this terrible disease, her spirit remains with those who knew and loved her. Our hearts go out to Gary and to the many people whose lives she impacted.

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