As a person whose hair falls out after each chemotherapy treatment, and as a person who does not mind having a bold head, after wearing a bold head for some time I decided I should get a wig for special occasions and circumstances; especially when I found out it might take my hair up to one year to grow back due to my combination of chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatments.
I did not want a wig because I lacked confidence, did not like the 'cancer look' or was afraid of what people might think. Quite the opposite. As a confident person who does not care what other people think of my appearance, even I acknowledged that sometimes the 'cancer look' was boring! and attracted fakesters who 'felt sorry for me' and thought "you look like a criminal/thug with that bold head". Hence one reason why I wanted a wig for outdoor purposes, so that its fringe and side hair could poke through my hat, look good in photos and also be worn at weddings and other special events.
I am lucky enough to live in London where most people do not really see a bold headed man as someone with cancer or as a criminal/thug. In fact, the bold head in London is quite normal and something of a fashion these days.
As a trial, to see what I would look like with a wig, I first bought myself a cheap short-haired £15 synthetic wig from a woman's beauty shop. This was purely because all of the beauty shops I visited only sold womens wigs. Never mind! I still went ahead and had the wig cut by a barber while wearing it.
The barber pointed out my mistakes in buying the wig. Womens wigs have the parting in the centre or on the opposite side and the wig netting is not cut for a man's head shape. Therefore making the whole wig shape, netting, fit and look feel fake. Even with his good attempt it still looked like a woman's cut and hair. It was not all a disaster though.
What a disaster!
The wig still served its purpose of me knowing what family and friends thought and more importantly if a wig suited me; on a £15 budget plus £10 cut. The main problems with the wig were its jet black colour, net fitting and woman's parting. Otherwise it might of been okay for temporary purposes.
With all of the above said: I rang my CNS (Clinical Nurse Specialist) team on 29th December 2017 for a referral to the Wig Shop in Guy's hospital (London), which I was granted straight away without question, where I then made an appointment for a wig consultation a few days later (3rd January 2018 at 9:45am).
I was told my tax credit allowance would permit me a synthetic wig of up to £250 and that if I wanted a 'real hair' wig I would then need to pay the upgrade (difference) price. As I did not mind a synthetic wig, and did not want to pay any real money for a wig, I ended up trying on three synthetic wigs whereby I found one that suited what I was looking for; which was a wig that looked like the hair was slightly overgrown.
By getting a wig whose hair looked slightly overgrown I avoided the "It Is Definitely A Wig" look. Meaning, people on the rush hour underground train for example did not stare at my wig thinking "He is definitely wearing a wig" or "Is that a wig?". In fact, 99% of people did not even look at it. And those that did must of just thought "His hair is a bit overgrown" and/or "He needs an haircut". So overall I was satisfied.
Does this NHS cancer wig look realistic enough to wear in public?
I was asked if I wanted the wig cut/trimmed at the wig shop, but as it did not really need it (I just trimmed the side burns slightly when I got home) I declined.
One thing you will notice with a nhs wig is its quality. It has an inner lining that gives comfort to the bold head and breathable vents, so that you do not sweat that much; not as much as when wearing a cheaper high street quality wig.
With regards payment, I did not need to use my tax exemption card simply because the wig fitter said I was covered under the fact I was on chemotherapy treatment. Hence why I paid nothing, which meant I could still use my tax exemption card to pay for a second wig; if I wanted to. In which case I might have opted for a 'real hair' wig.
When I got my wig home and trimmed its side burns slightly, I was constantly asking family and friends "Does it look like a wig?", "Does it look okay?" and so on; probably to the point of paranoia. which is quite normal because you are conscious of it being a wig. However, you have to remember that people who have never met you might not even realise you are wearing a wig; especially as they do not expect, to a certain degree, a man to be wearing a wig.
As a wig test, I would highly recommend you start wearing your new wig outdoors, in public, to gauge peoples reactions. Obviously if too many people are staring at you, you might consider getting a better wig or have your current wig trimmed/cut. However, even if all is well you need to wear that wig with confidence. And the best way to do that is to forget about it being a wig in the first place.