Fire devastates business dedicated to helping chemo patients
TAMPA, Fla. - A Tampa business owner who has devoted her life to helping cancer patients is just beginning to salvage whatever she can after a devastating fire over the weekend.
Christine Heinen said she was told an electrical fire sparked the flames Saturday that tore through her home, which doubles as her business, Chemo Diva.
"The whole front of the house was completely charred," Heinen told FOX 13 Tuesday. "I just I just fell to the ground just in sorrow. I thought I had lost absolutely everything."
Heinen launched Chemo Diva about 20 years ago, when one of her friends was battling cancer and couldn't find a comfortable wig. Since then, she has been crafting so-called "halo wigs," which cover all but the top of a woman's head, so they can be worn with a hat.
"That emotionally charged need for a product that really didn't exist at that time just really hit me hard," she said. "It is their own hair, and they feel very comforted by that."
The call she received early Saturday morning also hit her hard.
"Four o'clock in the morning, I wasn't here, I heard my cell phone was just blowing up and my neighbors were calling me to tell me that the house was on fire," Heinen said. "I just couldn't imagine calling people and telling them that their hair was burned in a fire. I know they're traumatized enough and I just didn't want them to hear that."
Fortunately, most of the items used in her business were spared, including her sewing machines, hair inventory and some orders.
"[Firefighters] found this one, which was in a box ready to be shipped, and it is completely untouched," she said, adding, as a cancer survivor herself, she just wants to continue doing what she loves. "It make it's really important to me to help other people who are in pain. So I will do all that I can just to keep doing that because it keeps me going."
Heinen told FOX 13 her loved ones, customers and strangers have been raising money through online to help her get back on her feet. She said she'll look for a temporary location for now and plans to move back into her home and business after they're rebuilt.
An online fundraiser has been set up to help at https://www.gofundme.com/f/help-chemo-diva-get-back-in-business.