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Breast cancer survivors treated to makeovers

Albie Aware and Orlando's West Palm Salon partnered to give six local women makeovers for fundraiser luncheon
By: Sena Christian, The Press Tribune
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Cheri Person sat patiently waiting for a stylist to begin working on her hair. Her face had a luminescent glow from the facial and fresh makeup applied earlier on Wednesday morning at Orlando’s West Palm Salon in Granite Bay. She sat with a towel wrapped around her damp, short curly brown hair. “This is really out of my norm and comfort zone,” she said. “I’m not used to being pampered.” In 2009, Person had a double mastectomy after doctors diagnosed her with breast cancer. She underwent chemotherapy earlier this year. She’s not particularly fond of the “lovely mop of hair,” as she calls it, that treatment left behind. Person and her stylist, Betty Khu, talked about the struggle women who undergo chemotherapy face when their hair grows out to a certain length and develops cowlicks. On this day, though, Person would get her hair and makeup professionally done as part of a makeover given to six local breast cancer survivors for the Albie Beautiful fundraiser luncheon. After receiving their makeovers, the women traveled via limo to Hawks Restaurant for lunch. About 150 people attended the luncheon, which raised about $6,000. Albie Aware is a nonprofit foundation created in memory of Albie Carson, who lost her battle with the disease in 2002. The Sacramento-based organization creates awareness, encouragement and financial support for people affected by breast cancer. The group provides information about diagnostic testing available to determine the best treatment for breast cancer, and offers financial assistance to those people whose insurance providers fail to cover these tests. “A breast cancer diagnosis is emotionally traumatic,” said Albie Aware Executive Director Cindy Love. “In addition to threatening her life, it can leave a woman questioning her entire self image — her femininity, her desirability and even her worth as a person.” The goal of the Albie Beautiful event is to help nurture these women on their journey back to confidence and hope, she said. Celebrity stylist Orlando Glissando, creator of Glissando Cosmetics and owner of Orlando’s West Palm Salon, teamed up with Albie Aware for the makeovers. In addition to sponsoring the makeovers, the cosmetic company will donate 30 percent of all sales during October to Albie Aware. “I looked at a lot of different organizations and this seemed to be one of the most sensitive ones, and they actually help,” Glissando said. “The money goes right back into the community. This is our own personal relationship with the disease. The women have just been having a great day. It’s been refreshing.” Glissando applied eye shadow to Elle Medford, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in April 2009. She finished chemotherapy treatment in June. “I feel good,” Medford said. “It’s such a nice treat to be pampered and meet new friends. It’s like you get adopted into a new sisterhood you didn’t choose to get involved with. It’s a good support system.” Another woman in this sisterhood, Kay Christensen, was diagnosed with breast cancer nearly 22 years ago. She volunteers as a bookkeeper for Albie Aware, and also received a free makeover for the luncheon. “This is very special,” she said. “It’s a rare treat.” Sena Christian can be reached at senac@goldcountrymedia.com.