Cancer survivors honored at MGCCC’s George County Center

Cosmetology students offer free haircuts, styling, pedicures and manicures

Jessica Seals, a student in the Cosmetology program at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College’s George County Center, gives Betty Bjork a pedicure during Cancer Survivor Beauty and Support Day on June 3.  Bjork, 83, is a bilateral breast cancer survivor.

Jessica Seals, a student in the Cosmetology program at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College’s George County Center, gives Betty Bjork a pedicure during Cancer Survivor Beauty and Support Day on June 3. Bjork, 83, is a bilateral breast cancer survivor.

Betty Bjork, 83, a resident of the Basin community in George County, spent several enjoyable hours on June 3 having her hair done and getting a pedicure and manicure, all for free, at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College’s George County Center.  The center’s Cosmetology students honored Bjork and 13 other cancer survivors as part of Cancer Survivor Beauty and Support Day, which is a national event held annually since 2003.

“This is absolutely marvelous. I appreciate the treat and the wonderful attention,” said Bjork while her feet were soaking.  “These young ladies are truly making us feel like royalty.”

Bjork is a bilateral breast cancer survivor and is recovering from a recent accident that left her with a broken leg and fractured shoulder.  “I was dancing to my tunes while vacuuming and tripped over the cord,” she said.  “My leg is healed, but my shoulder still causes me a lot of pain.”  Because of the accident, Bjork has a difficult time doing her own hair, manicures and pedicures.  “This is truly helpful because it is not something I can do for myself right now,” she said.  “In fact, my granddaughter is the one who found out about this and drove me here because I cannot even drive.”

Jessica Seals, the cosmetology student giving Bjork her pedicure, said the event has meant a lot to her.  “I think we all know someone who has cancer or has had it.  It is not an easy thing for someone to go through,” she said. “If we can help brighten their day and offer a useful service to survivors, it is totally worth the effort.  I’m glad we participated in it. This event is incredible, and I’ve gotten to meet some very special people today while volunteering.”  Seals, who is from McHenry, has one more semester in the program before completion.

The Cosmetology program at George County is one of only five locations in Mississippi that offered the service this year.  Fran Byrd, the Cosmetology instructor who arranged the event, said she was thrilled with the number of clients.  “I was worried that the word wouldn’t get out about what we were doing, but it turned out great,” she said.  “It was really beyond my expectations. We definitely plan on doing this every year.”

Byrd said the student volunteers have told her again and again how much they enjoyed participating. “We have gained so much from meeting the lovely ladies who came in because they all have incredible stories to tell,” she said. “I can tell it truly touched the students, as it did me, and I hope we have helped these ladies in some way.  There were certainly a lot of smiles today.”

Cancer Survivor Beauty and Support Day, held the first Tuesday in June each year, is a purely volunteer event with no monies being raised on that day or at any other time. Thousands of volunteers from the spa, beauty and related industries freely give their support and services on this day to all cancer survivors. Volunteers decide what services they wish to offer, and they post flyers and posters to let their clients know about the event. Cancer survivors make their own appointments for the day. Each year, there is a list on the Cancer Survivor Beauty and Support Day website that lists all participating locations by state and city for cancer survivors to reference.

Cosmetology students from Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College’s George County Center volunteered during Cancer Survivor Beauty and Support Day on June 3 by giving free haircuts, styling, pedicures and manicures to 14 cancer survivors. From left are Nicole Bell, Kiera Robertson, Alex Lewis, Cody Allen, Hayley Byrd, Megan Scarbrough, Vickie Bishop, Samantha Brannan, Dakota Weathers, Brooke Ehlers, Jessica Seals, Amanda Todd, Yolanda Fuentes and Shanteria Bracks.

Cosmetology students from Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College’s George County Center volunteered during Cancer Survivor Beauty and Support Day on June 3 by giving free haircuts, styling, pedicures and manicures to 14 cancer survivors. From left are Nicole Bell, Kiera Robertson, Alex Lewis, Cody Allen, Hayley Byrd, Megan Scarbrough, Vickie Bishop, Samantha Brannan, Dakota Weathers, Brooke Ehlers, Jessica Seals, Amanda Todd, Yolanda Fuentes and Shanteria Bracks.

Kathy McAdams is an award-winning journalist who has worked at weekly newspapers in Mississippi and the Press-Register in Mobile, Ala. A native of Gulfport, McAdams attended Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, William Carey University, the University of South Alabama and The University of Southern Mississippi. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in communications and journalism and a master's degree in education and English. She has worked at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College since 2005.