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Carefully Crafted, Centered in Patient Care

Carefully Crafted, Centered in Patient Care

When you walk into the Jane Thompson Russell Cancer Care Center at St. Anthony Hospital, warm wood ascends up the tall walls, inviting you in. Take an immediate left upon entering the Cancer Care Center, and you’re welcomed into a space of healing – a reprieve from chemotherapy and infusions. Patients are offered services more akin to a spa than a hospital. Massages, facials, acupuncture, even wig fitting are all booked there.

Beautiful wigs of all shapes, sizes and colors adorn the walls of one of the therapy rooms – from cascading brown curls to short blonde bobs. Patients can choose a wig that fits their unique style, giving them back something deeply personal that cancer often strips away. Wigs are typically expensive and are usually not covered by insurance, but here patients can choose their wigs and enjoy other services free of charge. 

Doug Perry has never known cancer himself. No one in his immediate family has undergone cancer treatment either, but he saw a way to give back to the hospital and community that has meant so much to him. About 10 years ago, Doug suffered a stroke. He said in the blink of an eye, everything changed. Like being blindsided by an 18-wheeler, he just dropped. 

Doug was immediately taken to St. Joseph Medical Center. At Virginia Mason Franciscan Health (VMFH), the health system offers the highest level of stroke care available. Each hospital has a dedicated stroke team ready 24 hours a day, seven days a week. That level of preparedness – combined with advanced diagnostics, treatments, technology and accredited rehabilitation facilities – has helped VMFH earn national recognition for excellence in stroke care and physical therapy. 

After the stroke, Doug couldn’t work any longer, but his passion for woodworking didn’t dissipate. About four years ago, he brought his first wig stand into St. Anthony.

Doug, a Gig Harbor local and retired veteran, has been creating handcrafted wig stands for nearly four years and donating them to VMFH. He creates the one-of-a-kind stands to help display the wigs in a careful and artful way – a way that evokes touch and warmth. And that personal touch is often what the doctor ordered.

Doug says woodworking is like meditation.

“If I can bring a smile to a cancer patient or a member of the staff, it’s all worth it,” Doug said.

Doug will tell you he’s not a master woodworker. According to him, it’s a practice, one he’s been at for more than 50 years. It is an art that gives him immense joy. 

In his 20 by 20 studio at his house, he takes scraps of wood and makes them into beautiful, intricate wig stands. Each stand takes him between three to four days to create and is crafted from different pieces of wood. No two wig stands are the same by design. From the old, sturdy mahogany of a sailing ship to the leg of a dining room table, each wig stand has a unique story within its grain, and they make a perfect perch for a wig.

Doug has long been a patient at VMFH. He raves about the care he has received at St. Anthony Hospital. From primary medical care to more specialized services like physical therapy, he said he’s grateful he gets to give back to a place that has given him so much. 

Today, he’s made nearly 50. If you go into the Cancer Care Centers across the health system, you can admire his handy work up close. 

Doug says woodworking is like meditation. You get lost in the art. He says sometimes, when it’s going well, he can even hear music playing. The melody drowns out everything else, and he drifts peacefully into his practice. 

“I am especially thankful for my wife’s support and encouragement. It’s such a blessing,” Doug says. “It’s fulfilling to give back, and I don’t plan on stopping until they tell me to.”