February 2, 2003 Vol. VIII, No. 9

Professor Diane Lewis-Goldstein (far left) helps students put finishing touches on "kindness hats" for chemotherapy patients in Northridge and Inglewood. With Lewis-Goldstein, from left, are students Danielle Esper, Arda Andonian and Elaine Livshin.

Custom-Made Hats Warm Heads, Hearts at Cancer Centers

Compassion for Chemo Patients Spurs Class to Create Cold Weather Chapeaux

Even in California, winter's cold fingers can get right down to the scalp. For chemotherapy patients suffering from temporary loss of hair, the advent of chilly weather can mean searching for ways to keep their heads protected and warm.

Hats, the obvious solution, can pose difficulties that are not so obvious. Some scratch or chafe the tender scalps of cancer victims undergoing chemotherapy. Some are too loose or too rigid to provide the desired snug fit. And some simply are unattractive.

Students in a Cal State Northridge Family and Consumer Sciences Department course set out to address the needs of their targeted "clientele." Applying the concepts and skills learned in the course, they designed hats that not only were soft, comfortable and warm, but that passed the style test as well.

In December, their chic creations were presented to women at the Levy Cancer Center at Northridge Hospital Medical Center and at Helen's Room at Daniel Freeman Hospital in Inglewood.

Appropriately enough, they dubbed their creations "kindness hats."

"Our students' chief goal," said family and consumer sciences professor Diane Lewis-Goldstein, "was to enhance the quality of life for individuals in our community. Compassion was the impetus, but the students' creativity and focus made the difference."

Part of the College of Health and Human Development, the department offers the Apparel for Special Groups course under its Apparel Design and Merchandising program. It addresses the clothing needs and wants of special groups such as children, the aged and the physically limited of all ages.

After developing the concept of "kindness hats" for chemotherapy patients as a specialized area of study, students in the class investigated the degree of need for such headwear, located institutions where the hats could be donated, conducted personal interviews with cancer patients who had experienced chemo or were undergoing the process, and analyzed potential fabrics and designs that would be suitable for their clients.

The hats were the work of students Arda Andonian, Angela Barbello, Tina Bederian, Cherry Bordallo, Farah Chajin, Wei Wei Dai, Gretel Delgado, Diva Edwards, Danielle Esper, Merrielle Garcia, Elaine Livshin and Charmaine Reroma.

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