Resolution 494 is currently sitting on top of the desks of important decision makers in Congress. The document contains the contents of an eagerly anticipated piece of legislation declaring the first Tuesday in June as “National Cancer Survivor Beauty and Support Day.” This one-day-a-year event is the only of its kind in the country for men, women, and children cancer survivors, regardless of their kind of cancer or when it was diagnosed. Cancer Survivor Beauty and Support Day has been bringing joy in the form of complimentary haircuts, manicures, massages, and other beauty-related treatments across the country for years. Very simply, those in the beauty industry open their doors and volunteer their services of choice. For 2012, National Cancer Survivor Beauty and Support Day will be celebrated on June 5, and none of it would have been possible without the hard work of Barbara Paget of Highland Park.
As a volunteer, Paget first held a spa evening in 2003 at Femmes Day Spa, then located on Sheridan Road in Highland Park. “For many who came in, their manicure was their first, and became their only manicure for the whole year,” explains Paget. “For salons who choose to take part in this very special day, it proves to be a great way to honor their clients, as well as meet new people in the area.” Paget soon realized this should be offered everywhere, not just in Highland Park, so she singlehandedly began calling salons and spas all over the state to have them join in helping cancer survivors feel better. Her day of celebration touched the hearts of Illinois State Representative Karen May and Illinois State Senator Susan Garrett, who helped Paget get a Resolution and Proclamation in Illinois.
But Paget quickly learned that this event was even bigger than Illinois. Through Internet research and the help of friends sending her photocopies of the Yellow Pages from their home states, she simply called individual salons and spas, explained the day, and got hundreds of places to support her dream. She feels most grateful to have developed a relationship with Pivot Point Academy, the largest beauty school in the world, to stand behind Cancer Survivor Beauty and Support Day. The Academy created a website, offering information to those in the beauty industry, as well as clients.
Paget also recognizes the support of Stand Up To Cancer. Through their support, she reached more than 500,000 cancer survivors last year. She received positive feedback from survivors as far as Germany, Canada, Japan, Poland, South Korea, China, France, Turkey, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and the Philippines. Last year, Cancer Survivor Beauty and Support Day received an Honorary Proclamation in Washington, D.C., as a result of the work of then Congressman, now Senator, Mark Kirk. Paget knows what it will mean if Resolution 494 is passed, and what a gift it would be if it came in time for this year’s day of celebration on June 5. Her hope is to have thousands more learn about the day to volunteer their services, in the hopes of reaching the 12 million cancer survivors in the country.
Paget emphasizes that her cause is not a charity. She never learns the names of the survivors making the appointments, with the exception of those who write to thank her. She takes no money and underwrites all expenses, before, during, and after the event.
One has to have a special personality to take on such a mission as Paget. Recently, while running errands on Sheridan Road, where it all began, someone came up to her and said that because of all her hard work, “the angels in heaven will wrap their arms around her.” Paget smiled, thanked her, and said, “That’s a lovely thought, thank you so much, but I hope not too soon. I still have many millions more to reach!”
To learn more about the National Cancer Survivor Beauty and Support Day on June 5, or to see a list of participating salons, visit cancersurvivorbeautyandsupportday.org. —By Stacy Flannery