Every snip helps.
Stylists from The Cutting Edge hair salon in Commack donned pink wigs and performed more than 50 haircuts at Sunday’s second annual Cut For A Cure event.
The proceeds, amounting to $2,600, were donated to the American Cancer Society for the Making Strides Walk Against Breast Cancer Walk, which will take place at Jones Beach State Park on Oct. 21.
"It’s a cause that unfortunately hits close to home for many people," said Cutting Edge owner Marie Perico.
In 2008, 210,203 women were diagnosed with breast cancer in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More than 40,000 women died from breast cancer that same year.
"It's very important to support events like this,” said Jacqueline Wands, senior director of patient and family services at the American Cancer Society's eastern division. “We know that one out of every two women who gets breast cancer calls on the American Cancer Society for help."
Most of those in attendance battled cancer themselves or knew someone who had. Some sat silently as their hair was cut, the pain of loss evident on their faces.
The support of local businesses was critical to the event's success, Perico said. Music students from The Rock Underground performed live rock music next door. Food was provided by local restaurants. In addition to cutting hair, The Cutting Edge raffled off gift baskets with donated products and gift cards.
Perico became inspired to fight against breast cancer – and the appearance-related effects – nearly a decade ago, after her grandmother, Viola, was diagnosed in 1993.
"She came home from this program, 'Look Good Feel Better,' and she had this whole kit of make-up donated from the American Cancer Society,” Perico said. “It boosted her spirits.”
Perico has long supported the same program that helped her grandmother, who died in 1999, by volunteering her expertise at Memorial-Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and more recently Long Island Cancer and Blood Specialists in Greenlawn.
At a wig bank in Hauppauge, Perico fits and styles wigs for women diagnosed with cancer who cannot afford them. And at her salon, outside of business hours, she buzz cuts women once their hair begins to fall out.
Cut For A Cure, now in its second year, was the next big step.
"I feel this is something that I can give back, that I can be part of to help patients feel better about themselves and to help them with what they’re going through," Perico said.
"Eventually you’ll probably know someone who has cancer, is battling cancer, or maybe even passed away from cancer," said Matt Barrera from West Islip, who came to Cut For A Cure wearing a pink mohawk.
Barrera lost his mother last year to lung cancer.
"It really touches a lot of people, any type of cancer,” he said. “The more awareness they have, the better."