By Michelle Williams
A cancer diagnosis is often accompanied by devastating impacts to a person’s health, coupled with an emotional and psychological burden that further wears down the victim’s overall wellbeing.
Lee Ann Hobert, owner of LA Salon at Geist, has seen it happen firsthand with many close family members and friends — and she’s committed to making a difference for cancer victims through her business.
Common treatments of cancer like radiation and chemotherapy can cause patients to lose hair and may traumatize the skin.
“You’d expect dryness, changes in pigmentation and unevenness in skin tone,” esthetician Vita Elaine said.
These drastic changes in appearance can take a toll on the patient’s self-image and may last for an extended period of time.
“Where our job comes into place is making them feel whole again,” Hobert said.
Each member of Hobert’s staff is licensed and trained in services and caring for cancer victims.
“We’re very passionate about what we do,” she said. “We understand their struggles and what they have to go through. They’re our heroes. When they leave here, you see a tear in their eye — and tears in our eyes.”
The salon offers a variety of services that can be tailored to the needs of cancer patients, including wig styling and care, skin treatment regimens and even semi-permanent eyelash extensions that can be applied to very minimal growth as a person’s hair starts to regenerate.
“What we do is provide a good place for them to come and start to feel better again,” head stylist Mariah Young said.
Esthetician Lindsay Nims specializes in eyelash applications, a service she’s licensed, certified and insured to perform.
“It’s a sensitive area and you really want someone to know what they’re doing,” she said. “It really changes the whole face.”
Young said restoring a person’s eyelashes can bring them back a sense of normalcy after what’s been a difficult cancer treatment process.
“To find someone that feels beautiful again — not because they’ve had an enhancement, but because they feel like themselves a little bit more — it gives you tingles all over your body,” Young said. “It’s a wonderful thing.”
Elaine, an esthetician at the salon, has a background as a registered nurse. She recommends clients obtain a medical release from their doctor before receiving services. During an initial consultation, Elaine provides a skin analysis and customized skincare recommendations based on the individual’s skin type and condition.
“I have an interest in the whole person as far as medical and holistic therapies that can benefit both the health and beauty of a person,” she said.
Estheticians are also trained to consult clients on caring for their skin beyond products that can be applied. Elaine and Nims explained that clients can pay special attention to aspects of their diets and maintaining proper hydration to improve the health of their skin.
“And definitely de-stressing, keeping their stress levels low — that’s one of the things about esthetic service, it’s very relaxing and therapeutic for the mind, body and spirit.” Elaine said.
Elaine said she also plans to seek specialized certification in lymphatic massage for cancer patients.
“It’s a very light pressure massage that strategically goes for the lymphatic channels and moves them in the direction of the heart to get the lymphatic system flowing,” she said, explaining that the massage is very beneficial in improving waste excretion for patients that have had lymph nodes removed surgically during cancer treatments.
Stylist Jai Fuller said the salon will also give free haircuts to anyone wishing to donate natural hair that can be made into wigs for cancer patients.
“We educate people on how to care for and style their wigs at home.” he said.
The salon offers services for cancer patients in a more private setting, often bringing in staff on days the salon is normally closed.
“I want to reach out and let them know that there is somebody that really cares,” Holbert said, emphasizing an understanding of the need for privacy. “We always are here and willing to help.”
LA Salon at Geist
Where: 7829 Sunnyside Rd., Suite B, Indianapolis
When: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday, Fridays and Saturdays; 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays; closed Sundays and Mondays
More: www.LASalonAtGeist.com; 855-1450