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For these cancer survivors, treatment a thing of beauty

March 05, 2007|by ERIN CUNNINGHAM

HAGERSTOWN - Before undergoing chemotherapy and radiation treatment for breast cancer, Trena McNair's hair reached well below her shoulders.

The 40-year-old Berkeley Springs, W.Va., resident said her hair fell out following the cancer treatment, and when it grew back it was a mess of "freaky curls."

On Sunday, she had it cut and styled for the first time since it began to grow back.

McNair was at Sagittarius Salon & Sanctuary Spa's sixth annual Life is a Gift day of beauty. In past years, the day of pampering was available only for survivors of breast cancer, but salon owner Marsha Knicley-Masood said she opened it this year to women surviving any type of cancer.

She made that decision after losing two of her close friends to cancer.

"I started it in memory of my mom, who had breast cancer for 20 years," Knicley-Masood said.

The estimated 100 women who went to the salon Sunday received a haircut and style, a makeover and a soothing massage. All of the salon's services were free for the women, and food and gifts were included.

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"Not one penny of money is exchanged today," Knicley-Masood said.

She said the salon has continued to offer the day of pampering for the survivors because of how much the women enjoy it.

"From the very first time, they've said this is the nicest thing anyone has ever done for them," Knicley-Masood said.

Debbie Wolf, 45, of Martinsburg, W.Va., is an ovarian cancer survivor of 10 months.

"The moment you take a breath after diagnosis, you are a survivor," Wolf said.

Like McNair, Wolf had her hair cut Sunday for the first time since losing it to chemotherapy treatments. She said she became emotional while driving to the salon.

"I just realized this was really important," Wolf said. "It meant a lot to me."

Emily Nulph, 60, of Hagerstown, is a breast cancer survivor of seven months who said she got "the works." One big change was the makeover.

"I don't even wear make-up," Nulph said. "I feel like a whole new person."

She said her husband likely would take her out later that night to show off her new hairstyle and makeover.

Nulph said she enjoyed talking to the other cancer survivors Sunday, and she likes to help other women who have been diagnosed with cancer.

"Cancer is not a death sentence," she said. "It's a new beginning."

Sunday was Betty Burger's sixth day of beauty at the salon.

"It's my day," the 58-year-old Hagerstown resident said.

Burger is a breast cancer survivor of 18 years who said she tells other women not to let cancer beat them.

"You beat it," she said.

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