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KABC, KNBC, Telemundo: Beauty Bus Pampers Patients and Caregivers

Patients undergoing cancer treatments are no strangers to feelings of depression and low self-esteem as they cope with hair loss, fatigue and other symptoms. So when a fleet of Beauty Bus volunteers recently arrived at Cedars-Sinai The Angeles Clinic & Research Institute to provide free manicures, facials, makeup makeovers and haircuts, KABC7, KNBC and Telemundo news crews were on hand to talk to the patients and volunteers and capture the upbeat mood of the event.

“This is wonderful for people that don’t have the means to go and get a facial or go to a hairdresser or a manicurist—and there are plenty of people who can’t do that,” Angeles Clinic patient Noreen Stone told reporters as she relaxed into her manicure. “It contributes to your wellbeing, absolutely. We need to pamper ourselves, take care of ourselves.”

The Santa Monica-based Beauty Bus, which partnered with Cedars-Sinai Cancer for the three-hour event, was founded by Wendy Marantz Levine in 2009 when her sister, Melissa Marantz Nealy, died at 28 from a degenerative neuromuscular disease. When Nealy’s illness forced her to stay home, her family arranged for in-home haircuts, manicures and facials, providing an emotional boost and temporary respite from her disease.

“Melissa was a girly-girl. She loved to get her hair and nails done,” Levine said. “When we had people come to the house to do those services for her, she said it made her feel human again and like herself.”

Ani Balmanoukian, M.D., head of the Lung Cancer Clinical Program at The Angeles Clinic, said that patients benefit when they “feel like they’re important to us as a whole person, not just as a disease.”

Patients weren’t the only ones who benefited from the pampering program. Caregivers, who Levine called "the unsung heroes," enjoyed the experience too. Bala Subramanian beamed as he received a couple’s manicure with his wife, Lakshmi Subramanian.

“My wife is always upbeat. She was even during her cancer treatments,” Bala said. “It’s fun doing this together.”

By the end of the day, nine beauty professionals provided more than 65 services. Beauty Bus also handed out dozens of gift bags stuffed with makeup and grooming products. Participants also got to select one piece of hand-crafted jewelry that was donated for the event.

Read more on the Cedars-Sinai Blog: What’s It Really Like Going Through Chemotherapy?