Cancer survivors get some special treatment

November 14, 1999|By BRUCE HAMILTON

Beauty can't beat breast cancer, but it brought happiness to some survivors at Sagittarius Hair Color and Design Sunday.

Women of all ages came to the salon for free haircuts, manicures, makeovers and massages. They enjoyed catered refreshments while waiting in the lobby and got gift bags when they left.

cont. from front page

It was a chance to be spoiled with luxury for those who have lived through a bout with the disease. Smiling survivors said they felt fellowship among others who shared a bond of suffering.

"It's kind of a social event. We tend to be a close-knit bunch," said Quincy Kohler, a board member of Y-ME of the Cumberland Valley. The breast cancer support organization supplied names to the salon, which sent out about 200 invitations.


Kohler said she noticed many younger survivors in their 20s and 30s. Cancer patients are not just somebody's aunt or grandmother, she said. The event's positive atmosphere inspired her. "It almost brings you to tears," she said.

Sagittarius owner Marsha Knicely organized the first "day of beauty" last year as a memorial to her mother, E. Rosemary Finney. About 30 staff members and volunteers came in from noon to 4 p.m. Sunday to work when the shop is normally closed.

"It's the most rewarding thing," said Knicely. "The ladies just love it."

Mary Martin of Hagerstown said she had a mastectomy in June. She didn't want to come to Sagittarius but her family persuaded her. She was glad she came.

"If you don't get out among other people, you're going to go downhill. You're going to be miserable with yourself and other people," she said. "Life is still worth living."

By 1 p.m., about 40 people had already been served and Knicely expected between 20 and 60 more. Healthy piles of hair clippings piled up and stylists swept them away amid cheerful chatter.

"I have never had my nails done," said Sharon Bishop as she admired her hands. "It is so good to be pampered. It's so nice to let other people take care of you for a change."

A resident of Berkeley Springs, W.Va., she went through chemotherapy and 37 radiation treatments after her diagnosis more than five years ago. The therapy left her with a washed-out appearance, she said. Even when she didn't feel sick, she looked it.

"When you look in the mirror, it hits you in the face," she said. Bishop often wore a turban and no makeup. When she went out, she could read her illness in other people's eyes. "It's the other people that see you that suffer with you," she said.

The fact of cancer affected her outlook and her self-image, but Sunday she radiated hope. "It really makes you look at life in a different way," she said. "It's a wonderful day to live."

Survivors took home gift bags of cosmetic products courtesy of Redken and Columbia Beauty Supply. "It's the kind of philanthropy we've chosen to support," said Beth Anderson, Columbia Beauty Supply business development director.

Knicely also designed T-shirts for sale as a fund-raiser for Y-ME. The white shirts with red stars on the chest bear the slogan, "life is a gift." They are on sale at the shop by the Venice Inn for $16 (small) and $14 (regular).

For more information on breast cancer detection or Y-ME services, call 301-791-5843.

The Herald-Mail Articles