A Publication of WTVP

When a woman looks her best, she can also feel her best. One local salon owner is helping women look and feel their best during a very difficult time—facing cancer.

Paola Hinton, owner of Five Senses Spa and Salon, had witnessed the effects of cancer as a young child.

“My grandmother struggled and passed away with stomach cancer,” Hinton said. “As a child, you don’t understand everything that is going on, but you know that grandma is not feeling well.”

After college, Hinton learned that one of her Illinois State University marketing professors, Jill Attaway, had been diagnosed with breast cancer.

“When Jill was diagnosed with breast cancer, I became inspired,” Hinton said. “This woman has endured a lot during her journey, and unknown to her, I still am learning from her even though I am not in a classroom with her.”

But it was a complete stranger who made the biggest impact on Hinton. While at friend Jean Becktel’s home, Hinton noticed a large blank space above Becktel’s fireplace. Becktel explained that a woman whom she worked with was going to create a painting to fit the space.

“When the painting was completed, I had the opportunity to view the room, and witnessed the life it brought to the room, and the joy it brought to my friend,” Hinton said. “I learned that the woman who had created the painting had been battling cancer, so this painting meant a lot to Jean.”

About a year later, Hinton was talking to another friend whose husband was working on a memorial project for a co-worker at Simantel who had just passed away from cancer. What made it worse for Hinton was that the woman’s children were around her age.

A while later, Hinton joined Simantel and attended a lunch catered by the same family her friend’s husband had been helping with the memorial project. Not only did Hinton get to meet the family for which she had so much sympathy but also received another surprise.

“At one point a family member was explaining all the art work that this woman liked to do, and how she had made several paintings, and that is when I froze,” Hinton said. “I knew exactly who this woman was—she was Jean’s friend. I knew more about her than I thought I knew. She was a person who touched many peoples’ lives, including mine.”

Therefore, when Hinton decided to open her salon, she knew she wanted to include extra facilities.

“As time has gone on, I am now witnessing family and friends who are aging and are diagnosed with different cancers,” Hinton said. “The emotions that surround the individual and the people around them are what have made me want to do something, anything to help.”

The Five Senses Spa and Salon opened in June 2006 at the Shoppes at Grand Prairie. Hinton calls it “3000-square-feet of pure bliss” complete with eight styling stations (including a private styling station), four manicure stations, a pedicure throne with four pedicure stations, four spa rooms (one of which includes a room-sized vichy shower) and two kitchens available for spa lunches and beverages. Hinton enlisted the help of a designer to create her perfect salon and insisted the private room be included.

Clients who are losing their hair because of cancer-related treatment or even another ailment can choose to discuss their options for wigs in the private room. The salon carries a variety of wigs which allows clients to see what hairstyle best shapes their face. Once they have chosen the style, they can either purchase the actual wig they tried on or special-order one in numerous colors designed to match hair shades from blonde to salt and pepper. Special-order wigs generally arrive within a few days. During the entire process, loved ones can accompany for support, especially on the day when the client has his or her head shaved.

After purchasing a wig, Five Senses will provide a complimentary mannequin head for the wig to sit on and will also maintain the wig for the entirety of its life. Hair stylist Patricia Beasley is qualified to cut and shape wigs, a difficult technique since synthetic hair is harder to manage and obviously does not grow back. Clients can have their wigs styled byBeasley while they wait or even drop them off and pick them up later.

“We have one woman who brings in her wig and says, ‘This is the easiest way to get your hair done,’” jokes Hinton. “Then she leaves and runs her errands.”

Five Senses carries Aveda products—most of the product line is made with all-natural ingredients—which are ideal for the sensitive skin needs of clients who have recently undergone chemotherapy. One of the problems that Five Senses addresses is the irritation that chemotherapy causes to the scalp.

“While people are going through treatment, they will have scalp irritation,” Hinton said. “The Aveda product line is very natural and helps sooth the scalp—specifically the rosemary mint shampoo. This shampoo has a tingly and cooling effect that feels great on the scalp.” This shampoo treatment is available at no cost, along with a session teaching clients how to compensate for brow and lash loss through makeup.

Because most of the body is covered with hair, all-over body skin irritation can also occur. Five Senses offers body wraps, facials and sessions in their vichy shower. The vichy shower is the only facility in the area of its kind, and allows clients to lie down and experience a series of overhead jets. The water pressure can be adjusted from direct to currents or even a rain shower effect over the entire body. Adding Aveda rosemary mint body wash to the shower experience, helps to hydrate and calm a client’s skin after chemotherapy.

Not only does Five Senses help generate a positive self-image for clients but also helps them sort out their insurance or find grants to help them pay for the wigs.

“Several people do not realize that there are grants available such as breast cancer grants,” Hinton said. “We file and fax all the paperwork, and apply for the grant for the individual. Our guests don’t even need to get involved.”

While the salon is in contact with OSF St. Francis Medical Center and Methodist Hospital, most people come in for cancer-related services on an individual basis, often calling the salon as a starting point for information. The salon also hosts a support group and can direct people to various support groups in the area.

The salon’s services are not just available to those dealing with cancer— they apply to anyone, including women, men or children, with a condition that causes hair loss.

“We are giving back to the community in our own special way,” Hinton said. “What better place than a place where people work with hair every day to give you guidance during this emotional time?”

For more information, contact Five Senses Spa and Salon at 693- 7719 or visit tpw