Dealing with a serious health issue can take its toll in many ways, and the latest New Yorker of the Week is doing his part to ease some of the pain for some women in need. NY1's John Schiumo filed the following report.
He was studying to become a surgeon, but instead, Rodolfo Valentin of the Upper East Side gave up on medical school, but not his desire to make people feel better.
"After a year, I said, 'Oh my god, this will take too long to be a doctor, then resident. It will be too much,'" says Valentin. "Hair gives you the possibility of so much creation. I don't care if they pay or not the payment for me is the smile in the mirror."
For Valentin, hair is not just about high style. Helping his mother battle breast cancer, he witnessed its power to heal.
"After the chemo, the hair disappeared. She was upset and I said, 'Don't worry, they will reconstruct your breasts.' And she said, 'It’s not my mutilation, it's not my breasts. My mutilation is my hair,'" says Valentin.
He made his mother a wig. With limited supplies, he used tea to color it and crocheted the hair to a mesh cap.
"She was so happy, she said, 'You have to promise me that you will do this for the most people you can,'" he says.
Valentin kept his word and today, he donates custom-made wigs and hair prosthetics to women with medical conditions, like Kayla Trolle.
"I was in a coma and I had woken up and realized what had happened, that I had had this massive [heart] failure," says Trolle. "I was able to reach back, even with all the tubes and IVs and feel the back of my head and I just remember feeling this complete bald spot right in the middle of my head, and I just started crying. I mean, really, really crying."
The charity Harboring Hearts introduced Trolle to Valentin, and now, about a year after a heart transplant, Trolle is getting new locks.
"I can't really put into words what it means. It was a big part of my identity all throughout my life. It's almost that femininity has come back to you," says Trolle.
So, for fulfilling a promise to help women in need, Rodolfo Valentin is the latest New Yorker of the Week. For more information on the Rodolfo Valentin Salon and Spa, visit www.rodolfovalentin.com.