How did Cancer Survivor Beauty and Support Day™ begin?
In 1995, I became a volunteer at Highland Park hospital in my hometown, Highland Park, Illinois. I "served" prepared sandwiches, soups, snacks, etc. in what was called a "coffee bar", primarily serving doctors, administrators, nurses, and visitors anxiously waiting for loved ones having a procedure.
Since I volunteered many hours in the coffee bar, I got to know some of the nursing staff. Soon I was encouraged to also volunteer at several of their stations. I remained in the coffee bar where I found myself spending time sitting with nervous visitors, (some I knew and some were strangers), offering support and conversation. One day, a lady came to the counter, ordered coffee, and then proceeded to break down and cry. I immediately sat down with her and learned that her late husband had been treated at the hospital, and she was back here for her first meeting to schedule her own chemotherapy. And, she was alone. At that moment I knew I wanted to also volunteer in the hospital in some capacity of giving support to cancer survivors. So I became a volunteer for a doctor, himself a cancer survivor. I coordinated complimentary programs for cancer survivors that the doctor held once a month in the hospital, in the evening for survivors.
Why a Spa Day?
I have observed that in the beauty places where I have gone when a client is diagnosed with cancer, the owner and the staff of a salon naturally are very upset and always say, "What can we do"? And where do many women go, their first time out after surgery or treatment...a beauty shop. Somehow, the smallest of a beauty service can just boost the spirit.
When the doctor passed away, I wanted to continue to offer some kind of support to cancer survivors. I learned of a spa in California that had so many clients being diagnosed with cancer that they decided to have a special spa day, just for them. I had recognized what cancer survivors face in dealing with their illnesses. To honor them, I went to a local spa in my hometown and asked if she might consider offering a spa evening with complimentary services of her choice, to cancer survivors. The owner agreed, and there quickly was a waiting list for that first spa day. For three years, local cancer survivors enjoyed the spa services; they shared their stories, supported each other, and bonded. They became friends, all who returned were glad and relieved to see each other after a years' time had passed.
I just kept thinking all year long, how wonderful it would be to offer the spa day gift these women survivors had received, to men, women and children survivors all over the country.
When should Cancer Survivor Beauty and Support Day™ take place?
A psychiatrist friend once told me he could never leave his practice during the holiday season, as it could be a most depressing time for someone with very serious issues. Keeping this information in mind, I originally decided the best time to have Cancer Survivor Beauty and Support Day™ would be between Thanksgiving and the New Year. Realizing that salons, day spas and like facilities become more busy closer to Christmas day itself, I felt the best week would be the first week of December. Tuesday is generally the slowest day in a salon. Hence, Cancer Survivor Beauty and Support Day™ was held each year on the first Tuesday in December.
However, as nationwide support for this day has grown, and knowing that June is National Cancer Survivor Month, I have now been encouraged to change the annual date of CSBSD to the first Tuesday in June. One of those people most encouraging to have me make this change is US Representative Robert Dold (IL-10th) who has agreed to author and introduce a resolution in the US House of Representatives designating the first Tuesday in June as National Cancer Survivor Beauty and Support Day™ (CSBSD™).
Where should Cancer Survivor Beauty and Support Day™ take place?
With local complimentary articles about Cancer Survivor Beauty and Support Day™ published, I was able to enlist the assistance and support of a wonderful, dedicated local political leader. With her help, and that of our city's mayor, Cancer Survivor Beauty and Support Day™ received a Senate proclamation and House resolution in my home state of Illinois. This recognition resulted in our gaining the incredible support of both Pivot Point Academy and Great Clips, both of whom are national organizations. Shortly thereafter, Gilda's Club, also nationwide, joined in helping to support and promote Cancer Survivor Beauty and Support Day™. There are hundreds of cancer related charity events throughout the country. They cost money to attend, and most cancer survivors cannot afford the expense. Most of these functions are attended by women. Support had to be available to men and children cancer survivors as well.
By having beauty schools, beauty shops, barber shops, day spas, massage therapy facilities, high end salons and spas, and others voluntarily participate, Cancer Survivor Beauty and Support Day™ would reach out to a very wide spectrum of men, women and children cancer survivors, nationwide.
Cancer Survivor Beauty and Support Day™ today takes place all across the country, annually on the first Tuesday of June, providing a day of beauty and support for all cancer survivors.
Barbara N. Paget, Chair, Cancer Survivor Beauty and Support Day™ Foundation