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Roswell Park stylist transforms patients hair and mood

Her brother's diagnosis inspired her career choice
Posted at 6:03 PM, Feb 04, 2020

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — It's not your typical salon. The boutique at Roswell Park's Resource Center is where cancer patients can be fitted for a wig, hat or headscarf for free. It's funded by the Roswell Park Alliance Foundation.

"It was very dramatic to be diagnosed with cancer at such a young age but then on top of it all to find out that I was going to lose all my hair. It was debilitating," said Sara Sade, a breast cancer survivor, "You already feel awkward enough. You don't feel well and on top of it all to just be notably screaming out cancer."

That's where professional hairstylist LaFondra Martin comes in.

"I let them know they're beautiful, and they will always be beautiful, no hair, no clothes or anything matters," said Martin.

Patients step out of Martin's chair transformed, and walk out of the salon with a smile on their face. It's a smile that stays with Martin.

"People see me in the street later on and they'll be like you did my hair! You made me look this way! And that just really makes me feel really, really good," Martin said.

That's exactly why she started working on wigs when she was just 13 years old.

"I have a brother that had cancer. He had bone marrow and leukemia. His hair was out at the age of about 10," said Martin, "He didn't like being bald, so we started buying him wigs."

She started styling them. After 30 years of owning her own beauty parlor, Martin retired to the salon at Roswell Park.

"I just love uplifting people, because that's what I do in life," said Martin.