Survivor spa day inspires friendship
BY CHARLES BERMAN Sun-Times Media email@example.com May 27, 2012 11:06PM
Barbara Paget (right), founder of Cancer Survivor Beauty and Support Day, watches as Highland Park resident and cancer patient Sarah Menoni, gets a kiss from her mother, Debbie. | Joel Lerner~Sun-Times Media
Updated: July 3, 2012 10:18AM
Before Highland Park resident Barbara Paget’s annual Cancer Survivor Beauty and Support Day expanded to thousands of salons pampering cancer survivors in nearly all 50 states, she made a special connection with a young survivor.
It was 2005, and Paget was talking with a small group of cancer survivors in a Highland Park spa when in walked Sarah Menoni.
At least half the age of the other cancer survivors, Paget recalled thinking Menoni misinterpreted the occasion. But the 22-year-old had just spent the last year undergoing chemotherapy for leukemia.
Menoni was there for the same reason as the bunch: a chance for free pampering donated to all cancer survivors.
“Sarah told us she spent her 21st birthday in a hospital,” Paget recalled. “My heart just went out to this beautiful girl. I don’t have a great memory, but I remember every word Sarah said that night.”
Menoni’s gratitude, strength and spirit left an immediate impression on Paget. The pair stayed in touch the next few years while Menoni continued to attend ensuing spa day events in Highland Park.
Paget remembers a special hug in 2010, when Menoni was wearing a sparkling engagement ring on her finger.
“She looked adorable,” Paget said.
But not long after, Menoni’s story took a sad turn.
Menoni’s cancer returned in November 2010. She underwent a bone marrow transplant and additional rounds of chemotherapy, but significant complications and hurdles remain.
“I visited her in the hospital last year and brought her a pillow in the shape of a butterfly with a heart in the center,” Paget said. “Butterflies are good luck, and I wanted to wish her good luck from the bottom of my heart.”
It’s unlikely that Menoni will be able to attend the upcoming 10th annual Cancer Survivor Beauty and Support Day on June 5. If she can make it, with the help of a medical van, Sarah is looking forward to a facial treatment.
For a full list of participating salons: cancersurvivorbeautyandsupportday.org.