Mary’s Room ~ February 14, 2002

Mary's Wig & Fitting Room
101 John James Audubon Parkway
Amherst, NY 14228
By Appointment:
Monday-Friday 8:30-4:30
FREE of charge to women undergoing cancer treatment.

Woman’s Spirit Lives in Room for Cancer Patients

By Cindi Wittcop Lockport Journal

Those who knew her say Mary Marvin had a non-stop smile, an exuberant spirit and a heart as big as Lockport.

Because she cared so much for others, area cancer victims receive help in coping with some of the side effects of treatment, including the hair loss often caused by chemotherapy. In 1996, Mary founded the Wig Depot at the American Cancer Society in Amherst. There, cancer patients can obtain free wigs or other head coverings in dignity and privacy.

Mary did it because she understood the struggle. Diagnosed with breast cancer on April 1, 1994, she made it her mission to help other women fighting the disease. She threw herself tirelessly into the cause, despite her own battle.

After going through surgery, chemotherapy and radiation, Mary was deemed cancer free for two years, but was stricken again, the second time with liver and bone cancer.

It didn't slow her down. She not only founded the wig room, but also worked with fellow breast cancer victim Lucy Burger to begin the annual Mother’s Day Breast Cancer Canal Walk.

Mary died of cancer April 26, 1998 and as a fitting tribute to her loving concern for others, the ACS changed the name of the wig room to “Mary's Room.”

“When Mary was diagnosed it became her quest in life to educate and help other women,” Burger said. “She touched a lot of people’s lives and she never gave up once.”

The wig room came to be, Burger said, because, “When (cancer patients) went to try on a wig, they had to go to the rest room, where there was no privacy. It’s such a devastating thing for a woman to lose her hair, and Mary thought it was necessary to get some privacy, so she got that room.”

The service is free to anyone with cancer, Burger said. At Mary’s Room, patients can try on wigs, turbans and what Burger calls “little babushkas.” Reach to Recovery volunteers help clients with their head covering choices and assist in any way they can.

Mary’s sisters, Glenda Chausse and Rebecca Kelley, were two of her biggest fans, and they feel it's their duty now to pick up where she left off. They’re both heavily committed to the cause she believed in.

“Mary was so strong and she did so much,” Chausse said. “She was so involved in every cause and was very busy, always helping someone. She never stopped -- the year before last she was at the Canal Walk wearing her turban. She never quit.” Kelley said, “Mary was wonderful, she was not only my sister, she was also my friend. It was amazing what she did for some of those women who were so scared (because) she knew what they were going through.” And if there is one thing Marvin would want people to know, it would be the importance of breast cancer awareness, self-examination and mammograms, the sisters said.

“Mary is still with us in spirit,” Chausse said. “And we feel she wants us to continue educating and helping other people.”