While the desire to receive beauty treatments and pampering may sound trivial after beating cancer, for many survivors, it is a treat that lifts their weary spirits and soothes their embattled minds. It is also a way to regain their confidence in the wake of side effects that can take a toll on their looks and energy level.
Recognizing the importance of making these services available to survivors of any type of cancer in any type of financial situation inspired Barbara Paget to create Cancer Survivor Beauty and Support Day in 2003.
Held every year on the first Tuesday in June – this year, it falls on June 7 – it is a day when businesses in the beauty, spa and related industries offer complimentary services to cancer survivors. What began with a handful of business in Highland Park, Illinois has grown to include establishments in all 50 states.
“This is a day for people of all financial backgrounds to get pampered. If they cannot afford a manicure, for example, this is their opportunity to get a manicure. For some people, it is the only manicure they will get all year,” Barbara says.
An avid volunteer since she was very young, Barbara was first introduced to the emotional assault cancer can wage while heading up a support program at a local hospital held by a doctor who was a cancer survivor himself. When the doctor eventually passed away and Barbara watched the group members lose their source of support, the experience made her want to do something to help the cancer community.
After seeing a segment on the Today Show about a salon in Northern California that provided complimentary services to cancer survivors, Barbara had an epiphany: She would take this concept nationwide.
And with a great deal of hard work, that is exactly what she did. Barbara tirelessly contacted beauty and spa establishments across the country, driven by her passion for the mission. Upon securing the participation of a beauty salon in Alaska, the last state to join, Barbara went to Washington, D.C. to create Resolution 494, which officially declares that the first Tuesday in June is Cancer Survivor Beauty and Support Day.
“This event is about so much more than the treatments themselves. It comes down to the support it offers these survivors who have been through a tremendous ordeal. And it is all-inclusive, which is critical, because historically most complimentary beauty services were extended solely to breast cancer patients or survivors,” Barbara says.
The opportunity for cancer survivors to indulge in stress-reducing treatments that can also boost their self-esteem is critical, as cancer fighters and survivors are subject to intense emotional highs and lows. During the battle, many cancer fighters are in survival mode, with their senses heightened. Once it is no longer necessary to maintain this state of mind, some survivors feel exhausted. Helping them regain their emotional strength and confidence is part of what motivates Barbara to continue recruiting businesses.
“Ensuring these services are free of charge to people who have overcome so much is the least I can do,” Barbara says.
CLICK HERE to obtain a list of participating businesses in your area. If there are no establishments on the list in your area, email the Cancer Survivor Beauty and Support Day staff at firstname.lastname@example.org. Provide them with the names and telephone numbers of local businesses and they will reach out to those establishments with a request to participate.