I posted this on my facebook page but I thought I'd mention it here because it is so good. I highly suggest that those of you with HBO record (or, hey, even watch live!) the documentary Mondays at Racine.
It is about a salon run by sisters, Rachel Demolfetto and Cynthia Sensone, whose mother struggled with breast cancer. They decided that one Monday a month, they would open their salon to cancer patients and give them free services, from pedicures to head shaving. While the documentary starts with the sisters, the story really focuses on two cancer patients, Cambria, a young mother just diagnosed with Stage 3 cancer, and Linda, 58, a woman who astonishingly, has survived 17 years with metastatic breast cancer.
It's hard to write this review without spoilers, but let me say that watching Cambria's story took me straight back to the early days of my cancer diagnosis, when my son was young and all was unknown. But Linda's story is the one that stays with me - 17 years of treatment seems unimaginable to me. She admitted that she had done 15 chemos by filming - that is 8 more than I've done. While my goal has never been 17 years, it is always in the back of my mind that some women are statistical outliers and somebody has to be one - maybe it could be me. But, after seeing her difficulty, I couldn't help but think that some things might be more difficult than death - I'm not sure I could manage this for 17 years - life with this pain, this exhaustion, and with what it does to your family.
Back to the salon: the women are made to feel beautiful and more importantly - normal - and they find comfort in a place that caters just to them. They go back to hold the hands of tearful newbies who are having their heads shaved for the first time, Cambria now experienced and with her short, chemo-curly do.
The story ends on a realistic note, as a documentary will do. I do not think there is a breast cancer patient in the world who won't relate to what these women go through, and also who won't feel grateful for the sisters who provide such a calming refuge in such a frightening storm.
Mondays at Racine is on HBO, which means you can still catch it: the 18th, the 20th, 21st and 26th and also on HBO 2 on the 19th and 24th.
When you watch it, let me know what you thought. Don't read the comments if you don't want spoilers!
Also, I wanted to add that based on a couple of comments, the show, and my own experience, hairstylists seem to be special people. My own stylist, Cynthia, did my buzz cut when I was going bald at no charge. She made it as easy on me as it could be, styled my many wigs, also at no charge and didn't laugh at me when I pulled them out. (I originally bought a bunch of cheap ones in many styles and colors, not understanding what wearing them would entail.) I've practically have to beg her to charge me since my diagnosis. Feel free to check the link out, like her on facebook (she shows photos of her styles and somewhere I'm on there - on of the few times I look good) and go see her if you are in Sacramento. She deserves all the accolades she can get. Tell her I sent you, she does a wonderful job.