Special Salon

Cancer treatment is not only draining but affects your self-image. For kids and teens it can be extremely difficult. 7’s Alexis Rivera shows us how a special salon is helping transform how they feel about themselves.

WSVN — Lauren Bendefsky is in the fight of her life. The 16-year-old was preparing for a dance recital last year when she was diagnosed with cancer.

Lauren Bendefsky: “It was kind of a shock and you don’t think that something like that would happen to you.”

She had surgery followed by a stem cell transplant.

Lauren Bendefsky: “Then I had a really high dose chemo, kinda got sick, didn’t really eat.”

Then Lauren’s hair started to fall out.

Dr. Brian Cauff says the side effects of cancer treatment are hard enough on adults, but kids and teens can face an even greater challenge.

Dr. Brian Cauff: “We’ve got to pay attention to how they’re reacting with the emotional and social aspects of being diagnosed.”

That’s how the Real Me at Joe DiMaggio came about.

This salon at Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital is designed just for young people dealing with the effects of radiation and chemotherapy.

Dr. Brian Cauff: “We have staff that’s very well trained on knowing some of the needs that these young adults have.”

Twelve-year-old Gabriela woke up one day feeling terrible.

Gabriela Flores: “I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t sit well. I wasn’t feeling comfortable or anything.”

When doctors told her she had cancer her entire world turned upside-down.

Gabriela Flores: “First you’re a normal girl and then you have cancer and then you feel different.”

Today she’s being fitted for a wig at the Real Me salon.

She says it gives you a boost when you’re feeling down.

Gabriela Flores: “It’s good to have something to distract you from the things you’re feeling.”

Dr. Cauff says when you feel better about yourself it can help in the healing process.

Dr. Brian Cauff: “I think it definitely has an impact on how they feel physically and just at the end of the day. I think they’re going to feel better.”

Lauren got a manicure. She says she likes the private setting.

Dr. Brian Cauff: “They’re in the hospital, they know everyone, so it’s very comfortable and they’re at ease.”

Even more importantly, it’s a break from hospital beds and chemo.

Dr. Brian Cauff: “When they’re going through such a difficult time like this it kinda helps them make everything easier.”

Real Me is open to all pediatric cancer patients, girls and boys, at Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital.


Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital:



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