Every first Tuesday in June, another touching story latches onto Barbara Natof Paget and stays with her wherever she goes. So far, she has 12 years of memories from a day aimed to bring joy to the nearly 14 million cancer survivors in the United States.
Paget is the founding chairwoman of Cancer Survivor Beauty and Support Day (CSBSD), an annual event on the first Tuesday in June – this year, June 2 – where those in the beauty and related industries volunteer their services to men, women and children with a diagnosis of cancer across the country.
“I have stories that are [incredible],” Paget says, recalling the friendship she developed with a young woman with leukemia who had visited a CSBSD-participating salon. “People … they help each other. They become friends. And all of this just stays with me.”
During CDBSD, volunteers choose which services to offer survivors. Paget has seen complimentary services include massages, manicures, polish changes, pedicures, waxing, haircuts and blowouts.
If a salon or spa in a patient’s geographical area is on the list, Paget advises patients to call the business, inquire about their complimentary services for CSBSD and book an appointment, she explains.
“They should say, ‘I understand that you are participating, that you’re volunteering beauty services for Cancer Survivor Beauty and Support Day on Tuesday, June 2. I am a cancer survivor, how do I go about taking advantage of this wonderful offer?’”
However, if the list does not include a participating salon near a survivor, Paget says survivors should contact her with a list of salons or spas near them. Paget will call these businesses, let them know a cancer survivor in their area contacted her, and request their participation in CSBSD.
Paget’s passion for the annual event, which was recognized by the US House of Representatives with a resolution in 2011, stems from an epiphany during a routine mammogram in 1995.
“We all know how many people are told it’s nothing, and then nothing can come to something,” Paget says, though her results came back normal. “I knew then that I wanted to give back.”
She volunteered at a local breast health center, organizing a monthly support program for patients with breast cancer.
“I really wanted to zoom in on people who really can’t afford to do anything for themselves,” says Paget.
Fast-forward to a day on the treadmill, when Paget caught travel editor Peter Greenberg on television, telling the world about a California spa that held a complimentary spa day for patients with cancer.
“I looked at the TV; I pointed my finger and said, ‘I can do that,’” she recalls.
When Paget kicked off the event in 2003, she had one spa in Highland Park, Ill., volunteering its services.
Today, she has thousands of salons, spas and beauty academies jumping in to pamper survivors. This includes more than 1,000 Great Clips locations, which offer a complimentary haircut on CSBSD.
The beauty franchise also has a “Clips for Kindness” campaign for which they offer free clipper cuts, known as a very short “shave” using clippers, to patients facing hair loss following their treatments.
“The nice thing … is I’m reaching people who are newly diagnosed,” Paget says. “But I really want to be there for people who are past treatment. I call them ‘the forgotten people.’ Everybody fusses over someone when they are diagnosed, but then they move onto the next person, and they don’t realize that they’re (the patient) not forgetting it. It’s always sitting on their shoulders. It’s the cost that doesn’t go away, the sore that doesn’t heal, the headache. This is the day to celebrate all 14 million cancer survivors.”
Various organizations help Paget, the sole organizer, spread the word about the annual event, including SeriousFun Children’s Network, Cancer Hope Network, Prostate Cancer Foundation and Imerman Angels.
Paget aims to keep the momentum going – and volunteers growing. Additional event goals include catering more services to male survivors.
“It is a win-win situation,” Paget simply says of CSBSD. “The volunteers feel great about what they do. The survivors, of course, love the day. It really doesn’t cost the owners that much. It’s just a good feeling. I hope it will just keep growing. I just want to get it out there. I want the 14 million people to know about it.”
I think a pampering day is a fantastic idea, as I just finished chemo late in Feb. for stage 3 breast cancer and finally have my hair growing back in. I could use a lift in having a trim or color job (with some organic coloring products)! On a related note, as a survivor, I feel compelled to share that I am now very careful about the chemicals in my hair and body care products. I've switched to a natural deodorant, flouride-free toothpaste and an organic line of cosmetics and body care products. I'm also trying the "no poo" (AKA no shampoo) experiment as my hair grows in to avoid the chemicals in hair products and see what all the fuss is about with letting hair "recalibrate." If you Google "no poo experiment," you'll find a LOT of info on this! Ladies, please be aware and do your homework on toiletries and cosmetics you're using. There are a lot of carcinogens in them, because the FDA only has 8 banned chemicals for cosmetics in the US. I'm now using NYR Organic products, which are manufactured in England. England is a part of the EU (European Union) and the EU's equivalent of the FDA bans -- are you ready for this?? -- over 1300 chemicals from use in cosmetics! So please buy safely and feel free to check out NYR's products at us.nyrorganic.com/shop/helengalletly. Thank you!
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