Cancer survivor Ruby Bush leaned back in a comfortable chair with her feet in warm, soapy water this past week while a new friend massaged her arches and rubbed lotion on her toes.
Ms. Bush, 66, had a rough start to the year. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in November and underwent a single mastectomy in early February. Her scans today are clear.
On Tuesday, the focus was not on her illness but on making her and others laugh and feel pampered at the Cherokee County Relay For Life's fourth-annual spa day.
Survivor chairwoman Amy Derrington said the day is all about pampering and having a good time.
Cancer survivors and their caregivers were given massages, foot soaks and rubs, facials, haircuts, manicures and makeup from volunteers — many who took the day off work. They went home with relaxed bodies, full bellies from lunch and a gift bag of goodies.
"They are special, and a lot of times people overlook stuff like this because they can't afford it or they don't want to take the time to go do it, but this way they are with people who are going through the same struggles and battles in life that they are, so they are comfortable," Mrs. Derrington said.
She said the diagnosis is hard on families, and the cancer society is there to help.
"When a family is going through what they go through with cancer treatments, they get so wrapped up," Mrs. Derrington said. "To me, family members seem like they don't want to take too much from their family, so they don't ask for a lot because they are already having to have so much attention … we are not their family members, and we are doing it because we love them and care about them, and they are a part of our community."
Volunteer Diana Vega said she also looks forward to giving back to the survivors each year.
"I feel like when I'm washing and soaking people's feet I feel like it's what Jesus would be doing," she said, adding Jesus washed the feet of his disciples before crucifixion. "I want to do anything I can to have a better relationship with my Lord."
Cancer survivor Cheryl Reynolds, a Jacksonville hair stylist, also makes it a priority to bring her scissors each year,
"You get to associate with a lot of other women from different walks of life, and they are all here for their own reason," she said. "Some of them have never been, and they are curious about what goes on, and then they get to have such a good time they come back every year."
Ms. Reynolds guaranteed that by day's end, volunteers would get a laugh out each guest.
That wasn't too difficult for Ms. Bush, who has faced her diagnosis with faith and good humor. She said her family has been her biggest supporter.
"It's amazing what love can do," she said. "Love can either make you get better or take you out of here. I have not been depressed a moment since this happened. … I'm not depressed, I'm thankful because they caught it in time my family was with me though (the journey)."