EAST HARLEM — Sharon Watson became a hermit after being diagnosed with breast cancer in April.
“My nurse would tell me to get out more and go to events,” Watson, 52, said. “I told her that I just want to go home, eat ice cream and listen to my radio.”
When the cancer survivor lost her hair in August, she became even more isolated and depressed.
“I didn’t like looking at myself in the mirror anymore,” she said. “I looked like Mr. Clean.”
On Tuesday, Watson felt beautiful again with the help of Sistas Fulfilling Dreams, a group of five childhood friends, who donated wigs to her and about 50 other cancer patients at Metropolitan Hospital.
It was the first time since her diagnosis that she had the motivation to leave her house and be active.
“It was emotional,” Yolanda Fredericks, one of the co-founders, said. “Nothing like this was around when my mother had cancer. This is the stuff that people need to uplift their spirits."
Sistas Fulfilling Dreams does community outreach work throughout Harlem and East Harlem. Since the organization started in April, they've raised money for college scholarships and volunteered at senior centers.
"We all grew up in East Harlem and West Harlem in NYCHA buildings," said Lorraine Emerson. "Now we are professionals. We started this to give back to the community."
The human-hair wigs cost between $50 and $500. Sistas Fulfilling Dreams raised the money by asking friends and family to donate for the cause, Emerson said.
The wigs were handed out in a pink room at the hospital. Pink and black balloons lined the walls, pink cupcakes rested on the tables and the women shared their cancer stories as they tried different wigs on.
For Watson, putting on the wig and sharing stories with other cancer patients motivated her to get out more. She signed up for a cancer walk this month and spent Wednesday morning calling different organizations asking how she can volunteer.
She also spent time in front of the mirror.
“My wig is wavy and long like a Diana Ross look,” she said. “I can curl it or I can straighten it. I’m going to style it on my head and wear it until there’s no tomorrow.”