Salon Strong 2.0 with Nathan Littauer & New York Oncology Hematology a great success

Salon Strong 2.0 with Nathan Littauer & New York Oncology Hematology a great success

Hair dressers and barbers pose for photo during the Salon Strong event at Lanzi’s on the Lake Monday. (The Leader-Herald/Briana O’Hara)

Here’s a news story from our media partner The Leader Herald

Apr 25, 2018/Briana O’Hara/Reporter


MAYFIELD — The special bond between a hairstylist and their clients who are diagnosed with cancer, along with the importance of a hairstylist’s education of how to care for their client’s hair, was the theme of the Salon Strong 2.0 event Monday.

New York Oncology Hematology and Nathan Littauer Hospital teamed up for Salon Strong 2.0 to teach hairstylists and barbers how to treat cancer patients’ hair when going through treatment and after treatment.

Kelly Quist-Demars who is a five-year ovarian cancer survivor said Salon Strong is a nice learning event for hairstylists and it’s a “thank you” event to thank hairstylists for the work they’ve done for cancer patients who lost their hair due to treatment.

“I think it means a lot more women will have the support they need during this,” Quist-Demars said. “I think it will help the hairstylists understand what role they play and what they really mean to people.”

When Quist-Demars was diagnosed with cancer she went to her hairstylist who happened to also be a longtime friend since kindergarten to get her hair cut shorter and eventually shaved.

“It’s emotional, you don’t really know what to expect,” Quist-Demars said. “Most women have never had a shaved head before; they don’t know what their head looks like underneath all their hair and you kind of wonder what that’s going to mean to you.”

Kelly Quist-Demars, a cancer survivor tells her story during the Salon Strong event Monday at Lanzi’s on the Lake. (The Leader-Herald/Briana O’Hara

Quist-Demars said it’s a turning point for a patient to have their hair shaved because with hair they can hide that they’re sick, but once they shave their head, everyone will know and they themselves have to accept that they’re sick too.

Her hairstylist had asked why she wanted to get her haircut short and that’s when Quist-Demars first told her hair stylist she had cancer.

“And this is one thing that really sucks about the whole cancer thing is telling people because everyone is going about their normal day and you just drop this in their lap and your poor hairstylist, who wants to help you look pretty, now all of a sudden has to go in a different mode,” Quist-Demars said.

Dr. Arsyl De Jesus, radiation oncologist at New York Oncology Hematology’s Amsterdam office, educated the hairstylists and barbers on hair care for cancer patients receiving any type of cancer treatment that can lead to hair loss or thinning of the hair.

Losing hair, or experiencing changes because of treatment, can be one of the toughest parts of a cancer journey.

“Especially with hair loss, you’re suddenly now different from everyone else with hair and then they feel more isolated because they cannot look the same,” De- Jesus said. “As stylist, what I ask for you to do is offer to help them with something that you guys do best and that is to help them with their hair and skin.”

De Jesus said hair loss happens because cancer cells are rapidly dividing and the radiation therapy and chemotherapy attack and kill rapidly dividing cells. Areas of rapidly dividing cells include the hair and skin and those areas will have side effects because of the chemotherapy and radiation therapy. It is hard to predict which patients will lose hair and what patients won’t, even if they get the same treatment. Some patients will just have hair thinning and some go completely bald.

Depending on the treatment, hair loss can start anywhere from one to three weeks after the treatment begins. It will start to get worse after one to two months of having treatment. De Jesus said patients will gradually notice when they lose their hair.

Dr. Arsyl De Jesus , MD, radation oncologist, gives a presentation to hair dressers and barbers on ways to care for a cancer patient’s hair during the Salon Strong event Monday. (The Leader-Herald/Briana O’Hara

Quist-Demars said hair loss was the only side effect that she couldn’t have control over. She gradually worked toward shaving her hair starting from a medium length hair to something a little shorter to really short to shaved.

“I did everything I could at that point to keep my hair,” Quist said. “The good thing is I looked awesome with shaved hair and I think most women really look awesome with shaved heads.”

De Jesus said some treatments can effect hair everywhere. Hair loss can occur for facial hair, armpit hair, pubic hair, leg hair, eye brows and eyelash hair. De Jesus said radiation causes hair loss only in the areas being treated.

In most cases, hair will grow back once treatment is finished. De Jesus said it will take several weeks for the hair to actually start growing, and six to 12 months for scalp hair to grow back completely. She said when the hair first starts to grow back it might be a different texture or color.

“It takes a while for the pigment cells in our hair follicles to regenerate or re-grow back so that it comes out without pigment and later on develops its natural pigment,” De Jesus said.

When it comes to hairstylists caring for cancer patients’ hair, some ways to treat their hair is by going easy on the hair and to stay away from products that contain strong fragrances. Other suggestions include to not color, perm, or chemically straighten the hair when the client is getting any cancer treatment; don’t use rollers, curling irons or straightening irons; and use a soft bristles brushes and let hair air dry rather than a hair dryer because it could cause more damage.

She said if some of the hair clients want to have their hair cut or shaved in private, to possibly go to that client’s home.

De Jesus suggested for stylists to try shorter hairstyles first rather than starting drastic so they can start getting use to how they look. If a client wants to shave their head, then to use an electric shaver.

“There is a big difference to having control over the hair loss rather than the hair loss have control over you,” De Jesus said.

Tammy Merendo, RN, Ddrector of Healthlink Community Education at Nathan Littauer Hospital speaks during the Salon Strong event at Lanzi’s on the Lake Monday. (The Leader-Herald/Briana O’Hara)

Three honored by NLH for community service

Alexis Hayes, left, Pamela Bell, and the Rev. Bonnie Orth, right, with their ACE Awards they received Monday at Nathan Littauer Hospital. (The Leader-Herald/Briana O’Hara)

Rev. Bonnie Orth, left, Alexis Hayes, and Pamela Bell, right, each receive the ACE Award at Nathan Littaeur Hospital on Monday. (The Leader-Herald/Briana O’Hara)

A story from our media partner, The Leader Herald, April 17, 2018

Briana O’Hara/Reporter


GLOVERSVILLE — Three Nathan Littauer Hospital and Nursing Home employees were surprised with the A.C. E. Award — Awards Celebrating Employees –which they received Monday. The Rev. Bonnie Orth, Pamela Bell and Alexis Hayes each received the award for their extraordinary work done outside the scope of their role within the organization.

Carla Kolbe, public relations coordinator at Nathan Littauer said this is one of the most prestigious awards given. She said within the last five years, only three A.C.E. awards have been given.

“On behalf of Littauer, I’d like to say how very proud we are of these three employees,” Kolbe said. “Their compassion and humanitarian efforts have gone far beyond what they bring to Littauer every day. For these reasons, they are recognized.”

Orth, Bell and Hayes joined 31 others and traveled to Pachaj, Guatemala in February for nine days to provide care to Guatemalan residents who don’t get the same medical treatment as we do in the United States.

While in Guatemala, Orth held a two-day Domestic Violence Women’s Retreat for a total of 100 women — 50 women each day. Orth said women don’t have as many options when it comes to domestic violence in Guatemala. She goes every year and holds workshops for the women and gives them each a gift bag. She said she does an exercise with the women and asks them if they were queen for a day what they would do.

“They have some really profound answers like ‘I would make sure every child in the village could eat today and have a full stomach.’ That’s what they would wish for because that shows you that does not happen,” Orth said.

“I think that it’s really nice that they recognized us,” Orth said of the award. “It was nice to take employees from the hospital and make a difference in the greater community and by greater I mean outside this country.”

Hayes worked the medical clinic while in Guatemala, along with one doctor and four nurses. There they treated about 180 medical patients.

“I was very excited to take part again in the mission for the second time,” Hayes said. “It’s such an awarding thing to do with your life. I’m so grateful for what we have here in our country. And it was wonderful to meet the natives down there; they were so kind.”

Hayes said when she was working in the medical clinic, there was so little they could do for the patients, but were able to give them medications they brought to Guatemala.

“They are so grateful that we are able to do just that little bit for them,” Hayes said. “Even if we can make them feel better for a month , they hug you and kiss you and it’s just so rewarding.”

Orth said some of the patients had walked four hours just to get to the clinic to get treatment and some had to walk with kids.

When in Guatemala, Bell worked in the dental clinic along with two dentists, one hygienist and staff treating about 187 dental patients. There they painted children’s teeth with fluoride which prevents them from getting cavities.

This was Bell’s second time going to Guatemala.

“It was rewarding,” she said. “It was work, but it was good work. It was helping them and they also helped us.”

Bell said some of the patients in the dental clinic were scared, but trusted them even though the doctors, nurses and staff were the foreigners. She said one of the patients thanked them by giving them each a piece of fabric she had woven herself by a means of thanking them.

“We had a few days to ourselves too which was nice to see the culture,” Bell said.

The three also had an eye clinic and dispensed approximately 130 pairs of eyeglasses.

There were also workers there who built a second story cement classroom for a school and a built a covered play area in which the workers dug a 6 foot deep and 24 feet around trench.

Hayes, Orth and Bell also faced a few struggles while on the trip. Hayes explained how they didn’t have access to any blood work, X-rays or anything and had to go by the symptoms the patients were telling them and it all had to be done through an interpreter because they spoke Spanish. Orth said many of them didn’t even speak Spanish, but an indigenous language.

Other struggles the three faced were bringing in donations. Orth said they had 58 suitcases filled of donations, but the airlines were not cooperative, so they had to pay $2,000 to bring the suitcases through.

“Nathan Littauer donated a lot of medical supplies and we brought those with us. The dentist had 12 suitcases of dental supplies,” Orth said. “A lot of the times, the airlines will let non-profits bring in free luggage and they were not as cooperative as we hoped.”

Orth described Guatemala City as similar to New York City, but people are walking around with uzi’s and guns. She said the small village where they were was similar to size as Mayfield. She said Guatemala City was the only place she did not feel safe.

Overall, Orth said the trip was a lot of work, “but it was worth it.”