Pink balloons lined the ceiling where paper lanterns of the same color were also strewn. This all matched the pink aprons that were worn by two stylists and the like-colored T-shirt donned by Kevin McCrory, the owner of Forest Park’s Fantastic Sams hair salon, 7235 Madison St.

Last week, as part of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Fantastic Sams offered $10, discounted haircuts. Half the proceeds went to the Susan G. Komen Foundation’s Cause for the Cure, which is billed as a nationwide fundraiser aimed at raising breast cancer awareness and supporting research for a cure. 

“Everyone has been touched by cancer,” said McCrory, a former CPA who bought the Forest Park location of the Fantastic Sams chain in March 2010.

For one stylist, Laura Rayo, the promotion hit close to home: her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer 13 years ago, while living in Arizona.

“We were crushed, the cancer caught us off guard – we were in denial. It was so scary,” Rayo said.

Her mother underwent radiation and survived, but it was a struggle, Rayo said. Having witnessed her mother battle the disease, Rayo can, to a certain extent, relate to the clients she sees who are undergoing cancer treatment.

Stylists Rayo and Joyce Pough both said a visit to the hairdresser is a special treat for someone who’s being shuttled back and forth to doctor’s offices and treatments.

“Many of them shave their hair when it starts to fall out,” Pough said.  “They’re worried that it won’t come back, but it always comes back, usually thicker and more wavy.”

The two women say they also style wigs and help women whose scalps are sensitive because of cancer treatment.

“They sometimes need to wear a special net or scarf over their heads to protect them,” Rayo said. Cancer patients also cannot have hair colored, the stylists explained, because chemicals in the dye can interfere with treatment.

Last spring, the salon raised $1,800 for a stylist to attend the Avon Breast Cancer 3-Day Walk, in Chicago, by offering discounted hair services. “We had a mother, who was a breast-cancer survivor, and her middle-school daughter, come in and dye their hair matching pink for the walk,” McCrory said.

Rayo said she’s always glad to provide special treatment for clients who are undergoing serious medical treatments.

“So many people have survived. They’ve been able to beat [cancer],” she said.

In addition to wanting to aid the fundraiser, McCrory said he jumped at the chance to join the regional promotion as a way to get hooked into the community.

“I love Forest Park,” he said. “When I bought [Fantastic Sams] I fell in love with Madison Street. This town is so family-focused.”

He said they’ll do another “Cuts for the Cure” next year and will definitely sponsor another 3K walk in May.

What’s more, McCrory is not done fundraising, either.

“For Saturdays in the month of May we donate 100 percent of the [salon] proceeds to breast cancer research,” he said.

Jean Lotus loves community journalism. She covers news, features, two school boards, village council, crime, park district and writes obits for Forest Park Review. She also covers the police beat for...