Ricardo Jones, of Mays Landing, and Tanesha Purnell, of Bridgeton, can't cure cancer. But they can make the side effects a little more bearable.

The brother and sister owners of Jonell's Weaving Salon in Egg Harbor Township have made many wigs and hair extensions for cancer patients who have lost their hair during treatment. On Sept. 10 they sponsored a free lunch and demonstration of hair weaving at Gilda's Club satellite office in Egg Harbor Township. They are also donating wigs to up to five patients recommended by AtlantiCare.

"We get so many customers from the AtlantiCare Cancer Center," Jones said. "We're located right behind them, and they'll come here when they're going through chemo. We wanted to do something to give back and say thank you."

Jones said their inspiration has been their mother, Patricia Jones, of Pleasantville, who has alopecia, which causes her hair to fall out.

"She started losing her hair in her 30s," he said. "Just watching her, and how vulnerable and insecure it made her feel made an impression and gave me compassion for others."

Jones served as the model for the demonstration at Gilda's Club.

Purnell became a hair stylist, Jones got his business degree and together they opened the business. Their specialty is custom-made wigs that can sometimes even be made from a client's own hair.

Jones said they know chemicals can interact with chemotherapy, so they use a special type of glue that won't cause reactions. Hair weaver Emil Mahan, who has been in business for 30 years, helps create the hair pieces and has extensive experience working with cancer patients.

While a typical custom wig, made from human hair, costs $250 to $400, insurance will sometimes cover the cost for cancer patients, Jones said.

Jane Abbott, program manager for Gilda's Club of South Jersey, said hair loss is a huge issue for women being treated for cancer, and she is thrilled that the salon has offered to assist.

"We have clients who have gone there, and I was really impressed with their work and their knowledge," she said.

Contact Diane D'Amico:

609-272-7241