‘Diva for a Day’ gives women with cancer a free full day of pampering

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If you look good, you feel good! That's what today is all about at Bangz Salon.

“It’s a day to reboot," Mary Ann Fernandez said.

It's also a time to relax, recover and reflect for May Ann Fernandez.

“I’m halfway through my treatments. I just got diagnosed in September,” she explained.

This mother of three and longtime artist is battling stage 1 breast cancer.

“This has been a crazy year for me," she described. "I opened a yoga studio [Gyspy Yogies] and then when I was at my healthiest, I get the diagnosis.”

She had a lumpectomy and is currently undergoing chemotherapy.

"I get nauseous, tired, more than anything I get very sad,” Fernandez said.

Feelings Mary Ann tried to work through every day.

“You face mortality anyways on a daily basis but now it’s just seems a little more in your face,” she said. “I think at this point every day’s a gift so we’re never sure what’s going to happen.”

A perspective Peggy Matzen and Debbie Sestokas know all to well.

“We’re both cancer survivors and like a lot of people who are cancer survivors we wanted to give back in some way,” Sestokas said.

The two met while volunteering for the American Cancer Society and came up with the idea of providing a fabulous full spa day for women battling cancer.

“Debbie and I started Diva for a Day in 2010," Matzen said. "It really is a program for women going through a cancer diagnosis, any cancer, to kind of take a break from all the stresses that come along with a diagnosis.”

All divas are nominated through their website by family or friends.

"We don’t discriminate on cancer, it’s any type of cancer,” Sestokas explained. "We don’t look at age, we don’t look at financial need, the only thing we really look at is the critical time of when you need it the most.”

Five years later, the New Jersey-based nonprofit has honored nearly 600 women across the country, all with the help of more than 40 salons/spas, dozens of volunteers and hundreds of generous donations.

"Excited, actually grateful, super grateful, this is something really nice,” Fernandez smiled.

For Mary Ann, and all the ladies, it's more than just a day at the spa though.

“Just being able to focus on me and my healing and myself for a few hours and not have to worry, is a treat,” she said.

And the best way, she feels, to express her appreciation is a simple...

“Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you a million thank yous," Fernandez laughed.