Nothing seems to revitalize the mind, body, and soul like a trip to the spa. Most spas not only offer you the pleasure of spending time in a serene atmosphere and beautiful surroundings, staying several hours at a spa that focuses on wellness is far more than “pampering”. The services offered can provide clients with a multitude of benefits, including deep relaxation, decreased anxiety, relief from muscle pain or tension and softer skin.
One spa owner turned personal tragedy into a full-time commitment to bringing those same benefits to people dealing with cancer. More than 10 years ago, Chicago-area day spa owner Vicky Weis worked as a personal trainer and aroma therapist when her mother Faye was diagnosed with lung cancer. As Faye’s primary caretaker, Vicky realized that her professional skills helped ease her mother’s final days by providing her with physical relaxation and comfort and emotional support.
The Birth of Faye’s Light
After Faye’s death in 1995, Vicky decided she wanted to share what she’d learned with others dealing with cancer, so she sold her spa and recruited volunteer spa technicians who would deliver free services to cancer patients in hospital and outpatient settings, often at bedsides.
This once-weekly round of services, which included free massage, reiki and skin and nail care treatments, grew into Faye’s Light, a non-profit organization. Since 2009, when Faye’s Light moved into their own facility, a 1,200-ft. space donated for the free treatment of cancer patients, the group has provided approximately 7,000 comforting services to about 1,000 patients.
“My goal is to make somebody’s life better right now – to do what I did for my mom,” Weis said. “The people who show up and provide the spa services – and those who walk through our doors to receive services—they have changed our lives and we have changed their lives. We’re there to hold an energy field of unconditional love for them for an hour or two.”
The Sparks of Light Project
Born out of the growing interest in the beneficial, caring services offered by the Faye’s Light organization, Vicky developed a national “Sparks of Light Day,” which was launched on November 2, 2015. During the event, spa professionals around the country commit to offering free services exclusively to cancer patients and their caregivers for four hours.
In explaining the premise of the event, Vicky said, “I will give you the simple blueprint, and you can modify it for what works best for you. My mission is cancer, but if yours is MS or Parkinson’s, apply it to your heart’s passion … It’s not complicated.” She also provides complete, considerate guidelines for Sparks of Light, including how to properly apply treatments to cancer patients.
A total of 14 spas across the nation participated in the first annual Sparks of Light Day.