For more than a hundred years, the American Cancer Society has been leading the fight against cancer. But, it can't do it alone and relies on donations and events like the Gala of Hope in Saratoga Springs later this month. Jon Dougherty visited a special location in Latham, where donations from events like the gala are providing cancer patients with a bit of normalcy and hope.
LATHAM, N.Y. -- A year ago, Gina Brady thought she was getting her haircut for the last time.
"She always asks, 'How are you doing' and I told her I was just diagnosed with cancer and I was going to be losing my hair,'" said Gina Brady, who was diagnosed with breast cancer.
Brady had breast cancer and began undergoing radiation and chemotherapy. Soon, all her hair would be gone, and the realization set in quickly.
"Never going to happen to me and it happened so it's real," said Brady.
But, she didn't want to be different from others.
"I didn't want sympathy from anyone, I just wanted to look natural," said Brady.
Fate would have it, her hairdresser Jenny was a volunteer with Serenity Salon at the American Cancer Society's HopeClub.
"We can't change that someone has a diagnosis with cancer but we can help them to live their life and to look good and feel beautiful," said Joni Richter, with the American Cancer Society.
Sponsored by Complexions Day Spa in Albany, Serenity Salon offers cancer patients, like Brady, a private appointment to be fitted for a wig. But for those battling cancer, these locks have a stronger meaning.
"For them to be able to look in the mirror and recognize themselves again and realize they're going to have hope and it can be OK and they can get through this journey comfortable and feeling like themselves," said Richter.
And in one of her darkest moments, it was this salon that restored Brady's hope.
"Hopeful. Honestly, hopeful that at least with my hair part I was going to look OK," Brady said.
"There's nothing like seeing somebody walk out, and they walk out a little taller, they walk out a little more comfortable and they always walk out with a hug," Richter said.
Along with a hug Brady, and many others also leave with a smile.
"The biggest shock is when you lose your hair. You think that you're going to look odd, there's nothing that's going to help you look better but there is hope that you can look better and you're going to have fun with it after awhile. Hair's going to grow back," said Brady.
After 24 weeks of chemotherapy and radiation, Brady is on her way to remission. She also says she's living a whole new side of life, by eating healthier. She says it's thanks in part, to the hope she received at the salon.
The American Cancer Society's Gala of Hope will be held Saturday April 30 at 6:30 p.m. at the Hall of Springs. For ticket information or how to donate, head to the gala's website.