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Rodolfo Valentin Donating 1,000 Wigs To Cancer Patients

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Women battling cancer are getting help from a Manhattan hair stylist whose mission is to keep them smiling during the fight of their lives.

Rodolfo Valentin began donating wigs to women in need after his mother Sofia died of breast cancer in her 40s. He remembers the smile on her face when he created a wig for her.

"I did the piece then I saw the most beautiful smile I ever saw in my life," Valentin told CBS 2's Cindy Hsu. "I want to have 1,000 smiles like my mother's smile. I know it's 1,000 women and girls smiling for me, that is an honor for my mother."

Maria Rodriquez is undergoing chemotherapy as she fights cervical cancer and was brought to tears when Valentin gave her a custom-made wig for free.

The wig is handcrafted and sewn, normally costing $6,000.

A thousand wigs, packaged in pink bags and boxes, are being donated to cancer patients from the charity Hewlett House.

Valentin boxes
Rodolfo Valentin is donating 1,000 wigs. (credit: CBS 2)

Theresa Giacastro, who was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma last week, said receiving a wig means the world to her.

"The biggest fear was not recognizing myself during and after treatment,"Giacastro said. "Knowing that I have a wig will just help me look in the mirror and see Theresa."

Within days of her diagnosis she wrote an e-mail to Valentin after hearing about his charity which read in part, "Because I'm 26 years old, and do not make a substantial amount of money it is difficult for me to keep up with my medical bills, medication costs, counseling copay's and just the maintenance of life."

Within hours she received a call -- her wish for a wig would be granted.

"It was like everything changed. Her whole attitude - she was uplifted, she was happy," Giacastro's mother, MaryLynn, said. "It made this the beginning of her fight. It made it so much easier."

Giacastro starts chemotherapy next week and says with so much support there's no way she won't win this fight.

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