Breast cancer hits home at salon

When a nail tech at Mainstreet is diagnosed with cancer, the staff takes on her cause.

When she opened her salon here 19 years ago, Julie Wuich knew she wanted to raise money for causes.

Shortly after she opened her salon in Dayton about a decade later, Shawon Gullette found a cause that came to her.

Now, each woman operates a business that is contributing in a big way to helping breast cancer patients: Wuich by raising money at her Mainstreet Salon on South Main Street, Gullette by donating wigs out of her Infinitee salon and spa on Salem Avenue.

Originally, breast cancer was not the main cause for either.

“One year, there was a client’s home that burned down in Springboro,” Wuich said. “We bought their groceries for awhile. I should have kept a journal of the things we’ve done. We probably do more of the little local things than we do big things, but we’ve done things for the Leukemia society or heart disease.”

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This is the third year Wuich’s salon has focused on breast cancer, and she had no idea of knowing how important the cause would become for her.

“Everybody in the salon knew someone who had come down with breast cancer,” Wuich said. “There were so many people in here last year who had been touched by breast cancer – who either knew some one who had passed away, was recovering or was a survivor. I knew it would hit here some day.”

It did. Wuich’s mom, Judy Armacost, a retired nurse who became a nail technician at the salon, was diagnosed with breast cancer.

“It was two years ago on Oct. 1,” Wuich said. “I was putting out all our pink products when I received a call from my sister about the diagnosis.”

A passion beyond ‘pink’

A year later, Armacost sat in the middle of the salon, surrounded by the other employees, all wearing black, except for her. She’s dressed in a white T-shirt and was called a hero.

This year’s picture will again feature Armacost in the middle, wearing a black shirt. She’ll be called a survivor.

“She’s been doing great,” Wuich said of her mother. “I painted the front wall behind the counter pink, and we have people putting up notes for those with breast cancer. We sell products that benefit the Susan G. Komen Foundation and we have three casual days a month, on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, we call casual days. Our dress code doesn’t allow us to wear jeans, but for $5 on those days, our girls can.

“This year, we also have a raffle and sell pink bracelets. We’ve incorporated more things to raise money.”

A year ago, combined with product sales, Wuich said her salon raised about $3,000, winning a nationwide contest through one of the products the salon sells.

“Needless to say,” Wuich said, “my own personal campaign against breast cancer has become more meaningful.”

Gullette’s first client for a wig had hair loss, not cancer. She wanted a wig to cover up where some of her hair fell out.

“I found her a wig, then started collecting them for other women who had hair loss,” Gullette said. “We started a yearly wig drive in January, and now we have 400 wigs, from real expensive ones to some that aren’t as expensive.”

When she began seeing breast cancer patients who were losing their hair from treatment, Gullette started “A Hope for Hair,” and began donating wigs.

“We work through the American Cancer Society,” Gullette said, “and we contact all the oncologists in town. Our procedure is to take people in who need the wigs and our staff will cut and style the wig for the person. There is no charge. In a year’s time, we may see 100 ladies.”

Most of the wigs are new, and those that aren’t are thoroughly cleaned. Once, a man brought in wigs his wife had used before she died of cancer. Children of cancer victims have done the same.

Gullette, sadly, has also seen a rise in younger women being affected by cancer.

“We have a collection of wigs for younger women, too,” Gullette said. “It’s a growing need.”

Contact this reporter at (937) 225-2157 or mkatz@DaytonDailyNews.com.

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