Spa Day pampers those with cancer, survivors - May 11, 2017

Courtesy of Post-Tribune

Written by Sue Ellen Ross

Cancer survivors and those currently fighting the disease recently experienced “royal treatment” during the annual Spring Spa Day at St. Peter and Paul Macedonian Orthodox Cathedral’s Banquet Hall.

Sponsored by Methodist Hospitals Oncology Department, the program was promoted as a day of pampering, empowerment and health education.

“When this event began six years ago, it originally was designed for breast cancer patients and held at our hospital,” said Methodist Hospital marketing director Evelyn Morrison. “But we’ve since added all types of cancer and we’ve outgrown the space at the hospital. We had to find a new venue.”

That they did, utilizing the church’s hall to its full capacity.

The day’s agenda included spa treatments such as facials, neck and hand massages, manicures, healthy refreshments, entertainment, a photo booth, breakout sessions, bone density screenings, and various vendors.

Hospital volunteer Evelyn Cole has assisted at the event for the past four years. As a breast cancer survivor, she realizes how important it is to offer the Spa Day event.

“This (day) is not just about pampering — people get to see they are not alone,” she said. “It’s a comfort to be around others who are going through the same thing,”

Paul Mitchell the School student Randi Rutkowski of Cedar Lake joined others from her school to give manicures to the guests.

“I’m glad to be here,” she said. “And I think that having other volunteers here today also shows that we are behind the cancer patients and support them in their battle.”

The guest speaker for two break-out sessions was Pamela Kozy, Director of Heart in Hand, Natural Health and Reiki Training Center. Her topics covered Natural Ways to Relieve Stress with Aromatherapy, Guided Imagery and Meditation.

“I didn’t realize there were so many opportunities to learn how to relax,” said cancer survivor Harriet Jackson of Merrillville, as she waited for the first session to begin. “This day is a god-send for many of us who are learning new things to help us every day.”

Gary sisters Mavis Johnson and Veronica Jenkins had fun at the photo booth, using Mardi Gras masks and other props.

Jenkins survived breast cancer two decades ago. She feels that cancer awareness needs to be seen across the board — with no age discrimination.

“I was in my 20s when I was diagnosed,” she said. “And I want people to know this is not a death sentence. We will continue the fight.”

Johnson, also a breast cancer survivor, also likes the idea of Spa Day bringing together cancer patients to learn from each other.

“We’re all in this together,” she added.

Irene Solivas of Schererville is a cancer survivor and this is her second visit to Spa Day.

“This new venue is beautiful,” she said, as she headed for the Spa Services area. “Today is a wonderful experience for everyone. In addition to being a social event, it’s also a learning experience for us.”

Musical entertainment for the day was provided by Sinfonia Esprit, a group of young students from Lowell, with director Andrew Anderson leading.

“This is an interesting kind of presentation for us,” Anderson said, of their time spent at Spa Day. “It is a casual, pleasant atmosphere where everyone is having fun for a worthy cause. And, at the end of the day, I’m sure my students will be smiling when they leave, knowing their volunteer concert was worthwhile.”

Methodist Hospitals has two full-service acute healthcare hospitals — one in Gary and one in Merrillville.