Jan 20, 2020

By Christine Ross

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One Toronto senior is turning his hobby into a unique program that benefits cancer patients at Sunnybrook’s Odette Cancer Centre.

Photos courtesy: Doug Nicholson/Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre

The wig stand project is deeply personal for 81-year-old former lawyer Allan Cooper who knows the Odette centre well after accompanying both his late wife a decade ago and more recently his partner for treatment at the Centre. Both women died from the disease and Allan wanted to honour their memory by giving back. Enlisting help from other woodturners, these volunteers create gorgeous handcrafted wooden wig stands, pieces of art, each one unique, and definitely not the traditional styrofoam holders.

Volunteer coordinator Erin Di Lella has become good friends with Allan over the years. “I am often in the wig room when the patients come in, a lot of times they’re quite devastated by their hair loss and we want to make them feel better,” says Erin. Patients can choose the design they like for free and keep it forever. However, Erin says many patients receive so much joy from these beautiful stands, they want to return them for others to use. Allan’s idea has inspired others thru connections he makes at various woodturners conferences.

Listen to a report from Christine Ross here.

NOTE: Woodturning is the craft of using the wood lathe with hand-held tools to cut a shape that is symmetrical around the axis of rotation. 

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