Services for cancer patients

16 September 2014

Cancer patients at the Royal Free Hospital are being offered the chance to buy hats, turbans and scarves, which can help them as they undergo challenging treatment.

Patients who lose their hair because of chemotherapy can feel self-conscious and some people find wigs uncomfortable – but there is an alternative available at the Royal Free Hospital.

Hats and turbans are a good way for cancer patients to keep warm during winter, protect their heads from the sun during the summer and help them feel more confident about continuing their daily lives while they are undergoing chemo.

And two hat companies – 4MyHead and Suburban Turban – make regular visits to the Royal Free Hospital, allowing our patients to purchase their head gear. 

Marian Simmons has had two sessions of chemotherapy after being diagnosed with cancer. She decided to buy a hat from 4MyHead: “I feel a bit more comfortable with a hat on, although I did have a wig as well. The hat is a good option.”

Jo Ashcroft set up 4MyHead seven years ago after discovering there was little choice of headwear available for cancer patients.

“My friend’s mum was looking for something to wear and the choice was quite limited. I did find polyester turbans but those wouldn’t be suitable,” said Jo. “I found some beautiful cotton material, designed new styles and have my headwear individually made by British seamstresses.

“I love finding beautiful fabrics and clients find the cotton jersey fabrics are pretty, soft and they are really comfortable.”

Suburban Turban founder Nicky Smetham worked as a milliner for 10 years before starting her business catering for women  with hair-loss nine years ago.

“Our hats are made of a light fabric which means they can be worn indoors without becoming too hot. They are also larger than the sort of hat you can usually buy in the shop so it covers more of the head – they are mostly of a stretchy jersey fabric, and we make them to measure. If they fit better they will look better.”

Ida Newman, a volunteer for the cancer charity Macmillan, added: “Patients have the option of wearing a wig but it can be itchy and uncomfortable. A hat or a scarf gives them an added dimension. A lot of people are shy and embarrassed about losing their hair so this makes them feel better.

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Notes to editors

1. For more information contact Mary McConnell on 020 7472 6665 or

2. The Royal Free attracts patients from across the country and beyond to its specialist services in liver, kidney and bone marrow transplantation, haemophilia, surgery for hepatopancreatobiliary (HPB) conditions, clinical neurosciences, renal, HIV, infectious diseases, plastic surgery, immunology, vascular surgery, cardiology, amyloidosis and scleroderma and is a member of the academic health science partnership UCLPartners.