Parents who stay by child’s bedside in hospital get spa treatment

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AKRON, Ohio (WJW) – For the past six months, Lyndsay Fife has stayed at the bedside of her daughter, Alayna, as she battles through treatment for neuroblastoma.

“This visit has been hard. Unfortunately, she has been here so long that she now calls this place home, you know,” said Fife.

Because her daughter wants her there, Lyndsay sleeps in the room on a sofa or beside Alayna in her bed, going home to the Warren area only once every three weeks.

“I couldn’t walk away from her, couldn’t get something to eat; it’s hard,” said Fife, who said she last had her hair styled six months ago before coming to the hospital.

“Actually, I have been trying for the past like three months to get my hair cut and I have not been able to, I have not been able to make an appointment. Every time I do, either I am not able to go home or the shop that I go to isn’t open,” said Fife.

Recognizing just such a need, Akron Children’s Hospital volunteer Mark Geschke enlisted the help of several local stylists willing to come to the hospital the first three Mondays of each month to give mothers a break from their routine, and help them feel better at the same time.

“You know, there’s a lot of folks in here like that, so it’s something — if we can get them away for 45 minutes, an hour, pamper them a little bit; it makes them feel good,” said Geschke.

Borrowing space in the hospital’s Reinberger Family Center, the volunteer stylists offer some of the services typically found in a spa including hair styling, hand and arm massage, and manicures.

“First of all they need a break; they need to step away from what’s going on here,” said volunteer stylist Michelle Lumadue.

“Now that Mark got my foot in the door here I could not not do it because it helps so many people,” she added.

The volunteer effort has also been the recipient of donated stylist chairs from a local salon.

On Monday, marking the one-year anniversary of the service, Fife was the 104th parent to have taken advantage of it while another volunteer stayed with her daughter.

“You feel like a new person. For a little bit there you get out of the room, don’t leave the hospital the machines beeping constantly; it’s just relaxing,” said Fife.

“It’s hard to get the parents to say, ‘Well, yeah, I want to leave my child and come down,’ not knowing even what to expect other than they are going to get a hair salon and get their hair done but once they are down here and they have done that they are glad they came down,” said Geschke.

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