Holistic Spa – Katie's Spa in the cancer center

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In the business of healing

Katie’s Spa part of growing trend toward holistic, cosmetic services for cancer patients

When her hair started thinning from chemotherapy last July, Cheryl Springs-Cortese sought expert help at Katie’s Spa.

Inside the warmly painted upscale-salon is a one-stop shop for women seeking some comfort — from wigs and mastectomy prostheses to manicures and massages — as they battle cancer.

“It’s inviting, it’s cozy and comfortable,” said Springs-Cortese, 49, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in June. She drives 45 minutes from Fenton to Katie’s in Lapeer, where owner Kim Adams cut off her hair last summer and helped her select two wigs.

Adams, a hair stylist, opened the salon in June 2005, specifically to care for cancer patients. She opens her second location in Lapeer this week in the Great Lakes Cancer Institute-Lapeer, a few miles away from her existing spa. Across the street from McLaren Health Care’s Lapeer Regional Medical Center, the $9.5 million cancer center began treating patients Monday.

The Katie’s Spa in the cancer center will be open a few days a week and point patients to the full-service location, where Adams sells turbans (various snug hats that she designs), and skin care products designed specifically for cancer patients. Spa services include facials, manicures, pedicures and massages. But visitors can also buy purses, jewelry and even cards, while they munch on always-handy snacks like cookies and coffee.

“It’s a place that people can come to and feel that it’s going to be OK,” Adams said.

Facilities like Adams’, as well as hospitals and cancer centers, are responding to a growing recognition that complementary medicine for cancer patients can help them cope and heal. Hospitals and cancer centers usually refer patients to outside facilities for wigs and mastectomy prostheses, but are increasingly offering nonmedical services to cancer patients.

“The whole area of complementary medicine as it relates to cancer therapy has been growing by leaps and bounds,” said Kelly Brittain, director of community education at Karmanos Cancer Institute. Patients can get massage therapy and participate in a variety of programs, from art therapy to yoga classes. “Research has shown that whatever can create a positive outlook helps with medical results,” she said.

Four St. John Health facilities offer “Healing Arts” centers, places where patients can get nonmedical support, from massage therapy to reflexology to yoga, acupuncture and Tai Chi classes. The centers are in St. John Hospital and Medical Center in Detroit, St. John Macomb-Oakland Hospital in Warren, Providence Hospital and Medical Centers in Southfield and a cancer center at the health system’s Providence Park Novi campus.

“We recognized that nonmedical treatment helped patients cope with their disease better and helped achieve better outcomes,” said Donna Handley, vice president of clinical services for St. John Hospital and Medical Center.

Adams named her spa after Katie Kirkpatrick Godwin, a customer and friend who passed away in January 2005. Godwin, 21, was well-known within the Lapeer community as she battled brain and then lung cancer. A high school valedictorian and star athlete, Godwin died five days after marrying her high school sweetheart in January 2005.

The spa draws patients from across Southeast Michigan, most of whom are referred by doctors’ offices who hear about the establishment from patients. What’s covered by insurance varies by the company. Some cover wigs (which at Katie’s cost anywhere from $200 to $600), and some also cover mastectomy prostheses.

Sue Grant has been referring patients to Katie’s Spa for a couple of years, first while working at Crittenton Hospital Medical Center and now as clinical nurse specialist with Michigan Hematology Oncology, with offices in Rochester, Bloomfield Hills and Lapeer.

“Even though it’s a business, it feels more like a home,” Grant said of the spa.

That welcoming environment and extra care is important in treating cancer, she said, because “emotional health is just as important as physical health.”

Katie’s Spa

Phone: (810) 664-2727
Address: 1178 S Lapeer Rd
Lapeer, MI 48446

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