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The Little Things

“Make the quality of life that you have work for you. Every day is a wonderful day, it’s an experience. Put one foot in front of the other and keep going.”

Inspiring words spoken by our client Lenore, a two-time survivor of cancer, who was left handicap and home-bound by effects of treatment.  Thankfully when Lenore went for her regular OB/GYN checkup and annual breast mammogram 3 years ago, her stage 2 breast cancer diagnosis was caught in time. After eight weeks of intense radiation, Lenore has been on hormone blocker for 3 years with 2 more to go. This was not the first time Lenore faced cancer. Prior to her breast cancer diagnosis, she was treated for uterine cancer and survived. Within a week of that diagnosis, she was in surgery and hospitalized for the next 5 days.

“There were so many questions – was I going to be o.k.? Would the cancer come back as it did before?”

Her instinct and experiences in life had lent to a resourceful and independent lifestyle, yet through cancer, Lenore learned to ask for help from her community. Her new found support system allowed her to feel joy. Whether through her social worker who kept her going spiritually when Lenore just didn’t know how to figure it out, Beauty Bus volunteers and the people providing services in the kindest manner, her son and friends, all the doctors who’ve been accommodating Lenore with the financial aspects of cancer, her trusty sidekick Butchy – a curly haired poodle she fought so hard to keep in her small apartment – or through her Unitarian church which challenged her way of thinking, Lenore knows the emotional part of well being is cared for.

“When you lose everything, you gain everything.

I just wish that everyone could see what I see, because everything we look at has a companion. Even a blade of grass has the dew. We come from the earth. We have to let go of the negative – do a grateful list.”

As a retired designer, Lenore finds ways to turn her challenges into fruitfulness, making hand knits, scarves and hats for her support community. She even began writing a book about her journey, hoping to inspire others and leave a legacy for when her time on earth is up. It’s not always easy though; there are days of “Why, why, why, why?” of course, but Lenore just focuses on her quality of life, making it the best it can be.

“Since I can’t get out to often or afford many luxuries, I am so grateful for in-home services. Everyone comes in with a smile and LouLou, my Beauty Bus hairstylist, makes me feel good; the way I used to look. I was really very pretty and vivacious and active as a person. The way she cuts my hair is the way I like wearing it and I am so grateful. It feels really good. She’s a wonderful person – she devotes that time; that has been just joyful for me. I feel like I can depend on this service to bring me a little sunshine in my life.”

Lenore’s inspiring outlook on life and living with cancer is a lesson in discovering gratitude and joy. It’s the support around her that gives Lenore hope; the little things every day to find quality. And that sounds like a wonderful way to look at life.

There is something so powerful about human touch.

Brandee James, Beauty Bus and Beauty Drive 2013 Volunteer

“I first learned about the Beauty Bus several years ago when it aired on The Secret Millionaire on ABC. I was so impressed with the vision, mission and people behind the project. As soon as I moved to Los Angeles, I knew I wanted to connect and begin volunteering.

What struck me as unique about the event was more than how organized it was, more than the butterfly inspired décor and attention to detail and much more than the impressive auction items and delicious food (although all these things were so fantastic!), it was the people.

Two words that come to mind about my experience at the 2013 Beauty Drive, the volunteers, stylists and vendors are humble and genuine. It was very apparent that everyone that rallied from the morning until the end of the event is fully invested in the mission of the Beauty Bus and bringing beauty home to the lovely men and women it supports. There was an air in the room that is hard to come by at such fundraising events, people were deeply connecting, and they wanted to be there.

I was a part of the morning team and was able to make some new friends as we set up the Orly nail stations, organized the auction items and spruced up the VIP section. I found all of my fellow volunteers to be so kind and anxious to connect with one another. It seemed people were excited to share how they “got on the Bus” and tell about their experiences with events, volunteering and at-home visits. I found that after some time people shared their motivation for initially joining the Beauty Bus. Some are walking with parents and grandparents through a terminal illnesses now, others have lost those dear to them and still others are the shining faces of hope as they are survivors themselves.

Each person had a story and a reason for being there and in some ways volunteering seemed to be a way of healing and connecting with others that are walking through similar valleys. This genuine attitude extended to the beauty professionals who were friendly, helpful, organized and excited to be there. It truly seemed they were connecting with the heart of the Beauty Bus and knew it was an honor to serve that day.

There is something so powerful about human touch. And when one reaches out to another to help with a beauty service, whether it be with a nail polish change or a quick brow touch up, people connect and in some ways, even for that brief moment, people get to escape from every day hardships. It was truly a beautiful thing to see this happening at the Beauty Drive this year and I look forward to many more experiences. I am thankful to be a very small part of an organization that is serving the community in this way.”