DURHAM — Fighting cancer is a battle for body and mind.
Duke Cancer Institute gave patients and their supporters a break from everyday struggles with its sixth annual Spa Day last week. The event offered free beauty and relaxation treatments such as facials, wig and scarf styling, and massages.
Volunteers from Belk at The Streets at Southpoint offered makeup tips such as eyebrow touch-ups and raffles with fragrances as prizes. Carmen! Carmen! Salon and Spa provided haircuts, wig styling and hand massages.
The day included food, music and even line dancing, but organizers said it was about more than indulging.
Kristy Everette, oncology recreation therapy manager, said while physicians work with the body, the institutes Cancer Patient Support Program and events such as Spa Day help the mind and spirit.
The institute sees about 52,000 patients a year. Almost 300 people attended Wednesdays event.
More people pre-registered this year than ever before, Everette said. Its all about the holistic approach to the patient and caregiver experience that you dont see at other cancer centers.
Its an uplifting event to honor patients and do something fun, she said.
The American Cancer society estimates that more than 1.6 million new cancer cases were diagnosed in 2012. It also estimates more than 1,500 people a day died from cancer.
Tammie Hine of Greensboro is getting radiation at Duke. For her, the spa was another day of encouragement in the cancer patient support program. A patient since 2009, she brought a friend with cancer along for the day.
Its an amazing place and having this day is wonderful, Hine said while getting a facial. When youre feeling well enough to enjoy what they offer, you need the pampering from time to time.
Spa Day wasnt only for women. Norman W. Hill, who travels from Martinsville, Va., for treatments, enjoyed a hand massage.
With this arthritis, my massage helps me more than Aleve, he said.
After his late diagnosis in December 2011, doctors found cancer spreading in his body. He has had 33 treatments since, and radiation therapy fatigues him.
Still, people tell him he doesnt look like he has cancer or needs four-hour naps. Optimism and support programs such as Dukes have been the key, he said.
It helps folks to have people to talk to, Hill said. Having someone listen and understand helps.
Companionship was also on the mind of patients Arnetta Carver and her friend Shirley Clay, both from Roxboro, as they eyed wigs in the Belk boutique. Battling the disease at the same time, in their second year, they lean on each other for support.
I have four other family members with cancer, Clay said. Its important for people with this to stick together.
Carver, who also has four people in her family diagnosed with cancer, agrees.
Its important to meet people that have been through this, she said. It gives you hope and something to look forward to.
According to the National Cancer Institute, the median age of cancer diagnosis from 2006-10 was 66 years, but almost 8 percent were between ages 20 and 44.
Amber Patterson moved to Raleigh from Connecticut to be closer to Duke. The 34-year-old had gotten several misdiagnoses from various doctors, before the physicians at Duke found it.
Duke saved my life, she said. Today, its beautiful. Its a blessing.