Skip to main content

Franklin - Local Town Pages

The b.LUXE beauty beat

An Interview With a Very Special b.LUXE Client  

By Gina Woelfel
Beauty and cancer are two words that, for most people, don’t naturally go together. Going through something as traumatizing as a cancer diagnosis can disconnect you from your relationship with yourself and shatter your beauty ideals. In short, cancer is ugly.
At b.LUXE, we see clients daily for all their hair, makeup and skincare needs. We help them feel stylish, trendy, and confident. Most days, giving beauty advice comes easily, but some days, it tugs at our heartstrings and redefines what it means to feel beautiful.


Kathy Curran first met Heather, the owner of b.LUXE Hair and Makeup, over 15 years ago when Heather was working at The Sherborn Day Spa. Kathy booked with Heather when her stylist changed her hours, and they “instantly clicked.” When Heather opened b.LUXE in 2011, Kathy followed and has been a loyal client and friend ever since. “While I was sitting at Heather’s new salon having my hair done and absorbing the whole atmosphere, I thought, this feels like family, and this is where I want to be. Heather cracks me up,” says Kathy. “We laugh and laugh every time I see her, but she has also helped me through some rough times.” 
“In August of 2021, I found a lump in my breast. I had an echocardiogram a few weeks earlier, and I remember thinking that the technician was rough and the area hurt like I’d been bruised. I took a short trip with my husband, and I was still hurting when I returned,” explained Kathy. “I called my doctor, and she saw me right away. She scheduled a mammogram and ultrasound that afternoon. They confirmed the mass and immediately sent me for a biopsy.” 
“While waiting for my results, I didn’t let myself get too nervous or down. I was diagnosed during COVID-19, and processing times for pathology were delayed,” Kathy shared. “I read everything I could about breast cancer and genuinely believed that the mass would be benign. On Friday evening, while having supper with my family, my primary care physician called to tell me I had cancer.”
When Kathy met with her treatment team in Boston, they explained to her that she had a very aggressive kind of cancer that could not be treated with conventional drugs. She was handed a mountainous stack of paperwork and release forms that detailed her grueling treatment process and its problematic side effects. After reading through everything once, she set it aside. She knew she would have to endure severe nausea, stomach upset, total body hair loss, and extreme exhaustion, but this was her only chance. “I remember thinking this is what soldiers must feel like going into battle. You don’t know what will happen or if you’ll come out on the other side, but you do it anyway because it’s the price you pay to be alive.”
“Heather was one of the first people I called to help me prepare for my hair loss,” Kathy remembered. “It was an emotional phone call. I remember saying I needed to see her and told her why. It was like telling a sister, if you know what I mean. We both cried. She was so sweet and apologized for the tears. She told me she’d get me in, and we’d figure out what to do. I remember sitting in her chair telling her to chop it really, really short. I didn’t want big clumps of hair falling out all at once. She looked at me with all sincerity and said something so inappropriate and yet so funny, we both burst out laughing.” Kathy remembers that laugh felt like “a breath of fresh air” in the darkness of a cancer diagnosis. “Honestly, she’s done that more than once over the course of our relationship, but that particular time was very poignant. Heather has this crazy, quirky sense of humor. That’s her gift. She makes people laugh and feel better. She cut my hair really short and sassy and I looked great for the couple of weeks I still had my hair.” 
Kathy started her treatment in September 2021. She underwent two surgeries in April and June of 2022: a partial mastectomy with a bilateral reduction and another surgery to address an infection. Kathy began radiation treatment in June 2022 and continued to receive infusions until December. She still gets a bone-strengthening infusion every six months until next summer. Kathy has been in remission since April 2022.
I asked her if her beauty ideals had changed at all after going through such an ordeal. 
“I bought a book on makeup and how to look your best during chemo. I’m not makeup crazy, but I was very scared about my appearance,” she explained. “When my hair started to come back it was coming back curly and I thought, oh my. Heather loved it and thought it was great! I thought I looked like my mother and my siblings were kind of freaked out!”
When Kathy’s hair grew back curly, there were still patches that grew straight. She joked with me, “I didn’t know what to do! I didn’t want to look like Albert Einstein!” Heather told her she could do a smoothing treatment, but Kathy opted to embrace her curls. “I had gotten so comfortable with being lazy about my appearance. I don’t mean lazy in the sense of letting it go, I mean taking the easy route. I just do a little bit of mascara, a little bit of blush and I stick my head under the sink in the morning and wet my hair and it’s done.”
When I asked Kathy if perhaps she was focusing more on different things, she told me, “Well, that’s just it. It became less of a priority. There were so many other things that were more important. I cared about my appearance, but I didn’t want to spend a lot of time on it now. I just kind of changed my beauty routine and Heather has really helped me do that because she’s like a cheerleader. When I see her, she always says, ‘OK, how’s your hair? I want you to love it!’ And I say, Heather, I’m not sure I’m ever gonna love it, but, you know, I’m in a place now where I can look at it, and it’s my victory crown.” 
While preparing for the Beauty Beat last month, I asked Heather for five client names to contact for our June column titled “Getting to Know You.” We planned to interview customers from nearby towns and write about their experiences at b.LUXE. However, Kathy was my first call, and after our initial talk, I realized there was a much bigger story to tell. 
Thank you for sharing your story with us, Kathy. Beauty and cancer are two words that don’t naturally belong together, but you showed us that you can find beauty despite cancer, and that strength, bravery, and grace all come from within. 
Sponsored articles are submitted by our advertisers. The advertiser is solely responsible for the content of this article.