KENNEBUNK, Maine — If you're in need of a haircut or pamper, you can treat yourself this weekend, while giving to a good cause. Ten salons and barbershops in Maine and New Hampshire will be taking part in an event called "Battle of the Salons" on either Friday, Saturday, or Sunday -- and all proceeds will help support cancer patients with innovative technology.
This event is happening through Foundation4Love, a nonprofit that sisters Leah Robert and Sarah Kelly founded in 2016. It provides integrative and wellness services to cancer patients -- and one way it does so is with financial assistance for the "Cold Cap Program" through New England Cancer Specialists.
This program was established in December of 2020 and is designed to prevent hair loss for women and men of all ages undergoing certain types of chemotherapy treatments. Essentially, the technology-based device spreads coolant over a patient's head while in a cap, restricting blood flow to hair follicles and preventing chemo from going there. It's usually about a three-hour process. Since the program began, Foundation4Love has helped between 20 and 25 patients.
"How we feel and how we look -- it's all so intertwined," Kelly said about the importance of helping cancer patients keep their hair if they want to do so. She's a cancer survivor herself, having undergone treatment for the disease in 2015 -- and she remembers how hard it was losing her hair and part of her identity.
"When I lost my hair as a redhead -- that was something that was so part of who I was, and then all of a sudden you don't have eyelashes; you don't have eyebrows, and you don't have a head of hair," Kelley expressed. "As a woman especially, that's something I was like, 'Who am I right now? Not only am I sick; I'm going through cancer -- now, I don't even recognize that person that's looking at me in the mirror."
Kelly and Robert say the program allows cancer patients to retain a right to privacy, so not everyone can tell the battle they're fighting. To the sisters, partnering with salons and hairstylists for this event made sense.
"They cut hair. They understand the importance of hair -- and so all of these salons have been just so excited to work with us on this event," said Robert.
One of the salons participating is River's Edge Spa and Salon in Kennebunk. Stylists will be offering haircuts for kids, women, and men and blowouts from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sunday, October 3. A minimum donation of $40 is required -- and all proceeds will go to Foundation4Love. There will also be other fundraising items like raffles. The salon expects to be able to make about 50 appointments -- and people are encouraged to call ahead of time to sign up. Slots are a little more than halfway filled now.
Leanne Guillereault is the social media and marketing coordinator for the salon. She says stylists immediately volunteered for the event, once they found out what it was for. It's an indication of how important community is -- especially in the midst of a tough year and a half.
"It speaks to us because of really just the community and reaching people from all areas, all different backgrounds. They've done so much for us to keep us going through a really difficult time," Guillereault explained. "We didn't know where we were going to be -- so it's relatable to be in that position of a little bit of fear, a little bit of anxiety about what the future holds."
The Cold Cap Program is a newer program NECS has implemented in Maine and New Hampshire. Every participating salon will be doing something a little bit differently this weekend for the Battle of the Salons event. You can see all of the listings and learn more by clicking here.