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Fight Like a Girl

taking the gloves off in the battle of their lives

(page 4 of 5)




NOBODY brings small problems through these doors.

“Women have a special relationship with their hair,” explained Sharon O’Donnell, an assistant manager at Bravadas Wig Design. “It’s the frame that surrounds a portrait and losing your hair to breast cancer treatments is devastating to many women.”

DARLENE GEIGER was diagnosed with breast cancer 14 months ago. No stranger to O’Donnell and the team at Bravadas, she had been a customer for most of the last decade at the place that specializes in a wide selection of quality wigs, scarves, hats, accessories and, most recently, a new line of prosthetics that is accounting for an increasing share of the store’s success.

“I’ve just never liked my hair,” Geiger shrugged. “I never had that lush, Farrah Fawcett mane of hair I wanted. Plus we get skinny hair when we get older and I just wanted something fun and easy.”

WHEN IT CAME TIME for her to take a dramatically different and more somber approach to wig wrangling, Geiger did it with courage… sans the “somber” part.

“I decided that if I’m going to do this I’m going to make it fun,” she explained. “That all led to my adopting a new nickname of Darlene ‘Fun’ Geiger.”

O’Donnell has been slow to catch on to the new moniker, but only because her client, friend and confidant will forever simply be “Dar” in her book.

“Dar loves to laugh and is very much a character,” O’Donnell said as Geiger feigned a look of faux indignation. “If there’s a way to have fun, Dar will find it.”

SUCH AS? “Oh, I don’t know if we should,” O’Donnell demurred in crinkling her nose. “We might make you blush.”

“Oh, c’mon” Geiger interjected, “you mean my boobie party?”

Well known for her themed parties before she was diagnosed, the woman with the dancing eyes is now famous (infamous?) for a party where, say, a pair of cupcakes offered limitless possibilities when it comes to “celebrating femininity” edible artistry.

In an interview whose decibel level ranged from “chuckle” to “guffaw” on the laugh-o-meter, Geiger also found more reflective moments, ones that brought into focus for the first time the strategically placed boxes of tissues sprinkled throughout the store. “Yes, this is a place of both laughter and tears,” said O’Donnell in opening a fresh box.

“But mostly laughter for me,” Geiger added as the sparkle returned to her eyes. “Like anyone in life, I have my good days and my bad, but this is a place where there is so much hope; so many smiles. Bravadas helps women feel okay about feeling okay. They give us permission to feel pretty; to feel good about ourselves.”

WHILE MUCH OF Bravadas business is in purchases that are non-medical, it is with cancer survivors like Darlene “Fun” Geiger that O’Donnell’s deepest, most noble calling is served.

“People walk through that door and hug us,” O’Donnell said. “And then we hug them when they leave. You probably don’t see a lot of that at Walgreens.”

And so it was that the needle on the laugh-o-meter sprang back to life.



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