Cancer woman upset at bank's hat request

HAT: Lynley Miller wears the hat to cover a scarf on her head.
HAT: Lynley Miller wears the hat to cover a scarf on her head.

A Nelson woman who has just emerged from gruelling cancer treatment has been given a humiliating reminder of its effects by a staff member at a bank.

Lynley Miller was in the queue at Westpac Bank's Richmond branch last week wearing her sports cap over a headscarf she wears to disguise hair loss from chemotherapy treatment. She was told by bank staff member to turn her hat around.

Miller said she was taken aback by the request, which was the first and only time in six months she had been asked about her headdress, despite having entered many banks and shops in that time.

The 59-year-old checkout supervisor at Pak 'n Save in Richmond said that rather than stand in the bank looking like a gangster with her hat turned around, she felt she had no choice other than to remove it, which left her feeling very vulnerable.

When she questioned the staff member Miller was referred to another staff member, who she sat in a room with holding her hat in her hands.

"I don't want to point a finger at any one person, but I was just so taken aback.

"Because I'm coming out the other side of all this, and it was the first time I've actually been made to feel bad, it did upset me. It's been nine months, two operations and then chemotherapy, and I was just beginning to feel good again."

Miller said she went home and told her husband, Rex, who was upset and eventually told their daughter, Angela Miller, who yesterday posted the event on Facebook. It has prompted a deluge of enraged responses in support of Lynley Miller.

"Angela's only just found out about it. I'd kind of let it go."

Lynley Miller was diagnosed with breast cancer last year and has since endured surgery and treatment, of which a common side effect is hair loss.

Miller, who was reluctant to talk about the experience, said most people had treated her with courtesy and compassion, but the indifference of the staff in the bank was unacceptable. The most she was seeking was an apology.

Westpac spokesman Chris Mirams said there had been no intention to make Miller feel uncomfortable in any way and the bank was very sorry.

"Like all banks, as part of security processes, we do on occasion request customers wearing certain items like hats, beanies and caps to remove them for identification purposes," Mirams said.

"This is what happened with Mrs Miller. We now understand why this has caused her distress and reiterate our apologies."

Fairfax Media