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Victoria native strives to put cap on cancer

Victoria Advocate - 1/7/2018

Jan. 07--Natasha Verma was the perfect candidate for the last thing she'd ever imagine: cancer.

The 23-year-old Victoria native has been on the fast track for life after earning three degrees -- including a master's degree -- by the time she was 18. The reporter and anchor at NBC Boston was living a healthy lifestyle when she woke up one morning last year and felt a shooting pain in her left shoulder. In August, she was diagnosed with Stage 2 Hodgkin lymphoma, a type of cancer most common in early adulthood, especially people in their early 20s.

Verma has been in remission since November and, through her pain, developed a project: baseball cap wigs for cancer patients. Though her insurance covered wig expenses, some cancer patients do not have insurance.

With her "Put a Cap on Cancer" project, Verma will provide stylish capped wigs for adult and child cancer patients for free.

"The last thing they (cancer patients) want to worry about with mounting hospital bills is a $1,000 wig," she said.

The idea came to Verma after she found herself wearing a baseball cap over her wigs when she lost her hair during her cancer treatments. Verma said she had difficulty finding the right wig and styling the hairline. She liked the way the trendy style looked with her wig, which was a confidence-booster for her.

In her research, Verma learned a majority of female cancer patients say losing their hair is the most dreaded part of chemotherapy.

"It's not just hair. It's a sense of pride and beauty. It's your identity," she said. "That's why we do it for free -- because it is very difficult to buy a quality wig, and these wigs are of the highest quality."

The cap has 100 percent human hair permanently attached to the rim of the baseball cap. There is no hair at the top of the wig underneath the cap, making the wig breathable for the patient's scalp. Verma designed the product this way because scalps are sensitive during treatment.

"It's very comfortable for the scalp for the patient going through chemo," Verma said.

The caps have an adjustable strap in the back and come in a variety of colors in either cotton or suede. The hair is also available in several colors, including pink and orange hair for children.

The project is done through the Verma Foundation, a registered nonprofit the Verma family created several years ago to improve the quality of life for people who are facing adversity.

Verma said since she announced the project last week, the foundation has received about 100 requests for capped wigs from patients.

"We need more donors to keep up with the demand. The last thing I want to do is turn away a woman or child because we don't have the funds," Verma said.

Applicants can fill out a form online and will need to provide a letter from their oncologist stating the applicant is undergoing cancer treatment.

Several applicants are from Victoria, she said.

Her father, Dr. Omesh Verma, who practices medicine at Texas Internal Medicine and Diagnostic Center on Laurent Street, said it was difficult to see his daughter go through cancer.

"It's taking something unfortunate and putting it to good use. Nobody expects to hear the word 'cancer,'" Verma said. "She wants to use her experience to help others."

Verma's mother, Shama Verma, said the capped wig is a great way to lift the spirits of cancer patients who are already going through a tumultuous time.

"It's a holistic kind of treatment," she said. "You feel good from the inside and outside and feel good about whatever you have to take on."

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(c)2018 Victoria Advocate (Victoria, Texas)

Visit Victoria Advocate (Victoria, Texas) at www.victoriaadvocate.com

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