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'Hat Lady' Has Cancer Victims Covered

September 26, 1997|MIMI KO CRUZ

Whether a boldly colored beret or a cotton cloche with a bow, the Hat Lady makes them and gives them away.

Hundreds of Orange County and Chicago women with cancer who have lost their hair from radiation and chemotherapy treatments have received one of Christy Carlin-Lazar's handmade hats.

Nearly every day for the last year, the 50-year-old Costa Mesa woman has spent hours at her sewing machine, producing the headgear that has earned her the Hat Lady nickname. She cranks out at least 10 hats per week.

Carlin-Lazar, whose mother and first husband died of cancer, said a television program inspired her to make the hats.

"I've sewn for many, many years and, one day, I was watching a hat-sewing class on TV. I thought, 'I can do that.' "

She later joined with Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian in Newport Beach, where a volunteer passes out Carlin-Lazar's hats for free. Also, Carlin-Lazar ships her colorful headpieces to her mother-in-law, who distributes them at cancer hospices in Chicago.

"These are so cute," said Mary Guzzetta, a 50-year-old Mission Viejo woman fighting her second bout with cancer. "They just make you feel more attractive and stylish even without your hair."

Carlin-Lazar recently made a denim cloche, a bell-shaped hat popular in the 1930s, for Guzzetta, who expects to lose her hair during treatments. A similar hat would cost about $50 at a department store.

Carlin-Lazar receives donated materials, including expensive silks, cottons and tapestries, from her neighbor, Mary Sampson Jank, an interior designer.

"We get elegant, we get contemporary and imported materials," said Jank, who collects donated material from suppliers.

Said Carlin-Lazar: "It's nice to be able to give."

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