Originally created 09/23/04

Spa day assists patients' healing



After Dohnna Boyajian endured her first round of chemotherapy, she used her bald head as a canvas for a Henna design filled with goddess symbols.

"It was something to celebrate, instead of something to remind me of the cancer," she said.

And for Regina Orlosky, she says her life only gained meaning after she was diagnosed with endometrial cancer. She said she is blessed to have a caring son, a fianc who finds her sexy and a desire to stay fit.

"I wake up, I smile, I laugh," Ms. Orlosky said. "I sound stupid, but it helps."

They are two women who have used positivity and laughter to beat gynecological cancer.

On Wednesday, they were joined by 20 other survivors who were all treated to a day of pampering at Tuscany Spa during a program put on by the Medical College of Georgia's Gynecological Cancer Support Group.

Dr. Sharad Ghamande, an assistant professor of gynecological oncology at MCG, started off the emotional event with what he said was a necessary component for cancer treatment, humor.

Among his list of top 10 ways patients know they're in remission was "caring about bad hair days again."

He said the point of Spa Day was to give back to an incredible group of people.

"Sometimes because of the chemo and the treatments, these women have a real problem with body image," Dr. Ghamande said. "This is our way of encouraging them to be proud of their bodies."

Throughout the afternoon the women snacked, drank wine and received spa services of their choice.

Ms. Boyajian elected to take off her wig for a scalp massage.

"I wonder if they've ever given a scalp massage to someone without hair," she said with a giggle.

In addition to her manicure, Ms. Orlosky led a relaxing yoga/pilates class to teach the other women how she relieves stress.

The Gynecological Cancer Support Group was formed less than six months ago by Christina Wilson, who was diagnosed with cervical cancer 2 years ago.

"I was so frightened and wanted to speak to someone about it, but there was no one to go to," she said.

Usually about 20 to 30 women with gynecological cancer - and the occasional family member - attend the group's monthly meetings to bond with others like them.

"I tell them 'we can take care of their medical needs, but you need to talk to someone who's been there before,'" Dr. Ghamande said.

"(The group) is a safe environment for them and a very compassionate forum."

Reach Dena Levitz at (706) 823-3339 or dena.levitz@augustachronicle.com.

COMMON Types of cancer

Although there are many rare forms of gynecological cancer, the three most common forms are ovarian, cervical and endometrial cancer. For more information on the Gynecological Cancer Support Group, 721-3992.

Source: Medical College of Georgia