Going through cancer treatment is tough. Becoming bald, boobless, and scared hits even harder. Thankfully, there are helpful and generous people offering those battling cancer ways to recover their outer beauty when at their lowest. “Cancer can take my breasts and my hair, but not my lipstick and heels,” says Anna Crollman, who blogs about all things cancer at MyCancerChic.com. She offers hope, inspiration, and advice through fashion, beauty, and product tips and tutorials to help women navigate cancer and beyond with sparkle and style. Here are some other organizations who help cancer patients pamper their body and soul.
Ten years ago, when Iris Lee Knell was bald after receiving chemotherapy for breast cancer, she threw on bright scarves, turbans, and jewelry. The compliments rolled in. Later, she gifted a set of accessories like these to a friend’s mother also going through treatment, and an idea was born.
Knell collects new and gently used scarves, turbans, earrings, necklaces, rings, pins, and bracelets. Since then, her volunteer nonprofit, Chemocessories, has sent almost 8,000 free accessory sets to cancer patients in all 50 states.
“You don’t want to look sick. You want to look beautiful,” Knell says. “When you put on a Chemocessories set and match it to your clothing, you’re ready to tackle your day.”
Visit chemocessories.org to learn more.
BRINGING BEAUTY HOME
Sometimes during treatment, you just can’t get up and out the door for anything but a doctor’s visit, and your beauty routine may suffer. Enter Beauty Bus. For those living in Los Angeles County in California, the bus will come to your home or a pop-up salon in your hospital and provide free beauty services including hair, makeup, nails, and facials for seriously ill patients and their caregivers. They also provide a goodie bag with hundreds of dollars worth of products so the pampering can continue.
Beauty Bus was founded 10 years ago in memory of Melissa Marantz Nealy, who lost her life at age 28 to a degenerative neuromuscular disease. When she became homebound, her family arranged for in-home haircuts and manicures to help her feel “normal” again. The organization has since nurtured almost 14,000 people in her honor.
“So much of care for cancer patients becomes about quality of care; Beauty Bus remembers quality of life,” says Wendy Marantz Levine, Beauty Bus co-founder and Melissa’s sister. “Until there is a cure for cancer, we will be there with our hair dryers and lipstick standing by families in their darkest times to bring compassion, loving kindness, and support.”
Visit beautybus.org to learn more.
RED CARPET TREATMENT
Kim Becker never gets tired of saying “Hello, gorgeous!” That’s how she answers her phone, and it’s the name of her nonprofit which provides head-to-toe makeovers out of a mobile day spa for women battling cancer.
“We have a palace on wheels that pulls up unannounced to their home and treats them like a queen for a day when they don’t feel so special,” Becker explains. “We want to pamper them and restore the beauty that cancer has stolen. They deserve it.” For 14 years, the Hello Gorgeous nonprofit has surprised deserving women nominated around South Bend, Indiana, with chocolates and flowers. They then receive a complimentary day of mani-pedis, facials, hair, and makeovers, plus instruction on how to deal with the physical effects of cancer. Finally, there is a new outfit and a reveal party, where they are reintroduced to friends and family to celebrate.
The organization has expanded to enlist 33 affiliate salons in 15 states to offer a similar experience. Her goal: having her team train and certify two salons in every city in the U.S.
Visit hellogorgeous.org to learn more.
When you’re in treatment, everybody rallies around you, notes cancer survivor and beauty expert Jillian Rezo, cofounder of BeautifulSelf.org. You see your doctors regularly; you have a whole support system. And then about a year out, you’re a survivor, and people expect you to get over it. “But emotionally, mentally, physically, psychologically, you’re in a new world, waiting to return to a life that you once knew, in a body that you no longer understand,” she says.
That’s the woman Beautiful Self wants to help. The New Jersey-based organization offers transformative, empowering photo and video sessions that coach women struggling with self-love after cancer treatment into seeing themselves as beautiful again. “We use the power of glamour and photo documentation to allow a survivor to explore and rediscover what she perceives as lost to breast cancer,” says Rezo.
“There is beauty in who you are now, whether you have no breasts, or are covered in scars. We help you see yourself in a whole new light,” she says. Survivors who need the service are not charged, but there is currently a hold on the one-year waiting list.
Visit beautifulself.org to learn more.