Hat collection to help heal cancer patients

Marianne Gillespie
Candace Dunbar is interviewed by a local TV crew about Hats for Healing.

It should come as no surprise that Candace Dunbar is continuing to cheer on cancer patients through collecting hats.

The now 34-year-old Chillicothean was diagnosed with breast cancer almost three years ago, and in her time of needing chemotherapy, surgery and radiation, others cared for her and her young family.

Two years ago she began Hats for Healing and collected more than 350 hats. Last year she was not able to continue with the hat drive as she faced complications from a reconstructive surgery.

Her drive is pushing forward this year, however, including setting the campaign back a few months to coincide with her cancer diagnosis. She now is cancer free.

“You see people at chemotherapy alone,” Dunbar said. “It’s just heartbreaking. The hat is just to let them know that someone’s thinking of them.”

Along with kind thoughts, Dunbar said she felt more normal during her time of chemotherapy and losing her hair when she could sport a new hat and go out with her family, husband Taylor and sons, Carson and Caiden.

Last time she visited with cancer patients and handed out hats in each of the chemotherapy pods at Illinois Cancer Care. She plans to do that again this year on the anniversary of her diagnosis, Nov. 17.

She is tagging the hats, or scarves, with “A Hat to Warm Your Heart” and on the other side, “Hats for Healing.”

“It’s really more than just a hat. It’s to let someone know that you’re cheering them on,” Dunbar said.

Anyone wanting to join Dunbar in Hats for Healing should purchase a new hat and drop it off at one of the following locations, in Chillicothe: Best Bet Salon & Barbering at 318 W. Ash St., A&A Family Chiropractic at 723 N. Second St., Pearce Community Center at 610 W. Cedar St., The Cutting Edge at 1037 N. Second St. and Chillicothe Veterinary Clinic at 1310 W. Truitt Ave.; in Dunlap: Dunlap Veterinary Clinic at 4620 W. Cedar Hills Drive and Dunlap Veterinary Clinic II at 2815 W. Townline Road; and in Washington: Michael Moon D.D.S. at 1762 Washington Road. More locations are being added.

All hats should be donated by Nov. 8. For more information, see Hats for Healing on Facebook.