A day of celebration, empathy and gratitude…
On October 29th, Salon Head Candy held a very special two-fold event: It was our first Cut-A-Thon for Multiple Sclerosis and it was the re-launch of our salon joining forces with celebrity stylist Nick Arrojo to become part of a prestigious group and be an Arrojo Ambassador.
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic, unpredictable disease in which the body’s immune system attacks it’s own central nervous system, which is made up of the brain, spinal cord and optic nerves. The immune system attacks myelin- the substance that surrounds and insulates the nerve fibers- as well as the nerve fibers themselves, and forms scar tissue (sclerosis). When any part of the myelin or nerve fiber is damaged or destroyed, nerve impulses traveling to and from the brain and spinal cord are distorted or interrupted. MS can cause many symptoms, including blurred vision, vertigo, loss of balance, poor coordination, slurred speech, tremors, numbness, extreme fatigue, problems with memory and concentration, paralysis, blindness, depression, and more. These problems may come and go or they may persist and worsen over time. Most people are diagnosed between the ages of 30 and 40. The disease is thought to be triggered in a genetically susceptible individual by a combination of one or more environmental factors.
The Delaware Valley MS Society sent us a handpicked list of people living with MS and we began the day with free makeovers and “before and after” photos. Our owner, Robin Dorton, lives with MS and it was so important to her, and to us, that we use this event to raise as much money and awareness as possible. Besides the free makeovers, we also scheduled some of our salon regulars for cuts and blowouts with 100% of the proceeds being donated.
You may have heard the saying “everyone knows someone with MS” and that really is the unfortunate truth. More than 2.3 million people are living with MS worldwide. Meeting people whose lives have been reshaped by this illness was humbling; despite incredible odds, everyone we met that day was in great spirits, and a few were happy to speak with us and let us know how they approach each day with positivity and gratitude.
Kristen, 32, was diagnosed at 27, while in grad school. She describes the pain she felt as a “pinched nerve” and chalked it up to a heavy book-bag and stress. She was eventually diagnosed over the phone after several visits to Rutgers, and she says that having MS is both “a blessing and a curse.” Since the disease was identified, she has adopted a healthier way of life – she goes for long bike rides and eats much healthier. She has completed her Doctorate in Chemistry and found great success with medicine in a pill form versus an injectable. She says that these days she is steadier and her routine is working for her. Kristen is already cute as a button so it didn’t take a drastic cut to perk her up! We just shortened her bangs for a more youthful appearance and softened up her layers to add more movement without taking off too much length. She has beautiful hair and such a positive personality and we loved spending the day with her!
We also spoke to Sandy, who was diagnosed in 1999 following a series of bad headaches and dizzy spells; she underwent three MRI-s, a neurological scan, and a spinal tap before being told she had MS. She has suffered with chronic fatigue and memory loss but maintains her sense of humor; her son, who accompanied her to her free makeover, joked that driving with her now is an adventure! Despite having to leave her job of 27 years, Sandy said that since she found a medication that works for her, most days are good and that since her diagnosis she has really focused on her quality of life. We loved being able to give Sandy this great new cut with long layers to add volume and softness around her face, while putting the personality into her hair that’s a better match for her light-hearted spirit!
Maxine told us about her unique experience with MS: In 1988, she experienced a bevy of symptoms including numbness, itching, and one eye becoming darker than the other. However, in a week, all of these disappeared and her concerns were dismissed after tests came back with no concrete diagnosis. It wasn’t until the mid-2000’s that she began to experience symptoms again, including loss of balance and clumsiness. Again, tests were run and this time, they showed MS, but Maxine has not let that stop her. She says her approach to life is to “play her hand with grace and dignity” and, despite retiring only a month ago, she has remained active in her community and volunteers at a crisis hotline.
She was diagnosed in 2000, when she was working in a casino as a banquet server. She said that one day her balance just changed; she described this feeling as having “marbles under her feet.” On New Year’s Eve in 1999, her body completely locked up while she was working, and she lost feeling in her legs shortly thereafter; since that time, she has been in a wheelchair. It was a few years later that a specialist “un-diagnosed” her MS, but a subsequent spinal tap showed the disease to be still present; after a decade of trying new meds and dealing with the side effects, she is finally on a prescription that works for her. Maxine told us that she does not let MS control her life, and she does what she can to fight for others impacted by the disease, including fighting for a New Jersey state law to prevent the abuse of placards that allow disabled drivers to park in designated spaces. She says, “if I can make a change, that’s the reason I was given MS.” Maxine didn’t want a haircut the day she came to visit but we decided to pamper her anyway and gave her a free shampoo, scalp massage and blowout!
Here’s the lovely Nancy. When we got word that Nancy was coming in to get her hair done for the first time in over 10 years due to her mobility issues, we knew that there was a reason we were meant to do these makeovers. She called ahead of time to make sure that our salon is wheelchair accessible and we assured her that she was coming to the right place with nothing to worry about. We cut a few inches off her length to get rid of the tired ends, added some soft, low-maintenace long layers, and fixed up her bangs to make them even. We also made sure that after a 10 year wait she not only received an amazing haircut, but got the star treatment with a full makeup application so that she left feeling as beautiful on the outside as she truly is on the inside!
Everyone who participated in our Cut-A-Thon thanked us for shining a spotlight on Multiple Sclerosis; however, it’s really us who want to thank them – for their bravery, for their candor, and for showing us that life doesn’t stop with a diagnosis!
Once the Cut-A-Thon was completed, we were ready to party! Friends, family, and clients filled the salon as we waited for Nick Arrojo to arrive – and, once he did, the fun really started. He graciously took photos with everyone and helped us raffle off baskets containing everything from a collection of his Shine Luxe products to a movie night basket that included candy, popcorn, and DVDs.
The true highlight of the evening, however, was the impromptu haircut he did on a client that wore orange in support of MS! In 20 minutes he turned a head of tired, frizzy curls into a short, bouncy cut full of movement of shine. Clearly, Arrojo is at home in front of a crowd, playing to the audience and making jokes, all while breathing new life into the head of hair before him. We at Heady Candy are truly grateful for the opportunity to be an Arrojo Ambassador salon and look forward to everything we will accomplish with the support of this new partnership.
October 29th was a long and emotional day; from meeting some wonderful people living and thriving despite MS and being able to pamper them with makeovers, to celebrating our relaunch as an Arrojo Ambassador salon. It was a wonderful day of empathy and appreciation, gratitude and celebration.
To every person that participated in any capacity, you have my sincerest gratitude and you’ll never know how much it truly meant to me that you were there that day. Thank you. From the bottom of my heart. — Robin