Fighting cancer typically isn't a very feminine process.
You may lose your hair, your energy, and in the end, maybe you've discovered it doesn't really matter if you're wearing this fall's fashion trends or if your lipstick matches your high-heeled pumps.
All that matters is that you survived. But once the anxiety and fear surrounding these life and death issues have subsided, it's time to live again.
Five area women who have battled cancer and survived were treated last Tuesday to an "Evening of Tranquility" at an area salon and spa. Later, they were driven to a Nisswa restaurant where they dined on the restaurant's fall dinner menu.
The event was an off-shoot of Relay For Life on July 27. It was a way to honor cancer survivors who walked in the event to raise money for cancer research and programs.
Kathy Buxton, a breast cancer survivor who served as co-chair of Relay For Life, said the names of the 85 cancer survivors who attended the July 27 event were placed in a drawing for a chance to win an evening of pampering.
The Fine Line Hair Design Salon and Spa in Brainerd donated an "Evening of Tranquility" to the five lucky women, who were treated to pedicures, manicures, facials, massages and makeover. Then the women were driven to the Nisswa Grille in Nisswa where they dined on the fall menu items, compliments of the restaurant.
"We're always looking for a way to give back to the community," said Kathy Bjork, owner of The Fine Line. "We hope this is only the beginning."
For all five women, it was the first time they've ever experienced such personal pampering.
"We just feel it's such a busy world and we need to slow down and take care of ourselves and our loved ones," explained Bjork. "I believe stress does contribute to cancer."
Bjork's father, Jon Elkjer, died of cancer a month ago. Hosting last Tuesday's "Evening of Tranquility" made her feel good too.
"(Cancer) touches everybody," said two-time breast cancer survivor Pat Hassett, who helped organize the event. "Everybody's lives are touched by cancer."
"These women were excited," said Buxton. "It was fun to see."
Kim Motschenbacher, who turned 35 on Sunday, was diagnosed with malignant melanoma in June 2000. She sought medical treatment after a friend noticed a strange mole on her leg.
With three children and working full-time as a speech pathologist at Whittier Elementary School in Brainerd, Motschenbacher said she never has the time to pamper herself like this.
"Oh, it's wonderful," she said at The Fine Line. "It's absolutely wonderful."
Nancy Bieganek, Lake Shore, was diagnosed with an advanced stage of Hodgkin's disease 25 years ago at age 13. She's a fourth-grade teacher at Whittier Elementary.
"This is a total treat," said Bieganek as she received a pedicure. "Just to be able to relax, to just sit here and have people wait on you."
Her thoughts were echoed by five-year breast cancer survivor Teri Monroe of Brainerd.
"I can't even tell you how much this is a great thing," said Cay Keppers, Brainerd, who for seven years has been free of bladder cancer.
"It makes you feel very special," said Sandy Polich, Deerwood. "It's wonderful."
Polich has been an ovarian cancer survivor for the past 11 months. She finished her chemotherapy treatments in July. She teaches kindergarten at Cuyuna Range Elementary School in Crosby.
"It's a celebration to be here, that's for sure," said Polich. "Life goes on and life is important. It's nice to feel life is so important."
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