AUSTIN (KXAN) — A former University of Texas student is turning a cancer diagnosis into a way to help hundreds of other cancer patients.
Natasha Verma created a cap that gives hair loss patients a way to cover the side effects of chemotherapy.
Nearly five months ago, the 23-year-old walked into an emergency room after complaining of shooting pain down the side of her left arm. It was the day of the solar eclipse and the emergency room was nearly empty, but Natasha walked out with a dreadful diagnosis from the doctor.
“He’s like, ‘We think we may have found lymphoma,'” said Natasha. “And, I just looked at him and I’m like, ‘what is that?'”
It was cancer. Stage 2 Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and it was spreading fast. Her first thought was about hair loss. “Am I going to lose my hair?” she said. “[That] was the thought in my head. It was my first reaction.”
Her hair loss came shortly after the second round of chemotherapy. Doctors had prescribed three rounds of the cancer treatment. For the Boston-based television news anchor, work was on hold. “I have to put a pause on my life and I have to treat this cancer,” she said.
The next step was getting a pricey medical-grade wig from her insurance company. But, it was heavy, thick and itchy — and she often threw a baseball cap over the wig to cover up the unnatural hairline.
Then an idea struck: sew hair around the rim of a baseball cap. With the help of her mother, Sharma Verna, who owns a wellness spa and cosmetics line, she created a prototype. Natasha calls it the cap wig.
“There’s no wig underneath the cap, it’s all gone,” Natasha said. “So, it’s going to free your scalp up and nothing is rubbing over it. It’s breathable and easy to put on.”
This week, Natasha’s foundation launched a campaign to give the caps away to cancer patients for free. She said cancer patients nationwide have already contacted her about the cap wigs.
“It’s for these women who need that extra support who are worried about losing their hair,” she said. “We’re giving you hope that you’re going to make it through the treatment. Let hair be the least of your worries.”
Natasha has also received an overwhelming response from other hair loss patients. People who have alopecia are asking for one of the caps, but Natasha said they are only for cancer patients right now. She may rethink that in a year or so.
The cap wig comes in several colors and styles and it costs about $100 to make each one. Her foundation is looking for donors to start production on the first batch of caps.
If you’d like to give, visit VermaFoundation.org.