Annie Penfield, 48, lives in Poole, Dorset, with her husband and 18-year-old daughter Natalie. Annie began treatment for breast cancer in January 2005 and had 18 weeks of chemotherapy. She heard about Mandeville of London wigs through her hairdresser Nicky Clarke.
“When I was diagnosed, I wasn't shocked, I almost knew when I found the lump. My attitude was simply that you have to get on with it. The things I'd worried about before seemed totally ridiculous and I decided to make the most of every day. I had a lumpectomy and reconstructive surgery at the same time. When they told me I needed chemotherapy, the first thought that came to mind was I'd lose my hair. I didn't want to look like a freak and I was concerned about my feminine side –somehow guys can get away with having a bald head. But it also advertises the fact that you’re ill. I tried the cold cap method, but by the second treatment, my hair started falling out.
It came out in my hand – I felt no pain, or tugs, nothing. It had been shoulder length, so I immediately had it cut short, which made me feel a bit more in control. Eventually, my sister shaved it off for me. As soon as my hair started falling out, I panicked and bought an acrylic wig, which was uncomfortable. I wore it a couple of times but felt self-conscious. My hairdresser Nicky Clarke recommended Mandeville of London for its specialised wigs. My first appointment was amazing. My stylist Robert measured me and made me feel everything would be all right. I could have gone for something like my real hair, but I thought I may as well choose a new look. We used my natural darker colour instead of my normal highlighted colour. I left Mandeville wearing it and went into Marks & Spencer – when I caught my eye in the mirror I didn't recognise myself. Instead of being self – conscious about my hair, I’m actually quite enjoying it now. It’s carefully measured and secured with clips, so I’ve never had a moment when I've felt it might move. It’s also so convenient – I take it off when I go to bed and wear a little sleep cap and my hair is
in exactly the same style next morning! My hair has started to grow, which is fantastic, but I think I’ll find it difficult going back to my old hair. I recently warned Natalie to be careful about what she wishes for. I’d always wanted thick wonderful hair and now, at last, I’ve got it. Except it’s not mine!”