I’ve just lost one of my closest friends to ovarian cancer. She’d been my buddy for almost 30 years. We met as mini-skirted Brits in New York. There wasn’t much we didn’t share. I remember how she comforted me on an early failed romance by giving me a cup of tea, hot-buttered cinnamon toast and a good ego-boost. Later, it was my turn when she went through the misery of divorce from a man she always loved. The day she called me about her illness was just another day at my desk. Me, “How are ya?!” Her, “It isn’t good, Jane.” I went for a long walk in a cloud of disbelief trying to imagine what things would be like without her. It took eleven years. She beat the odds by six. I put that down to her indomitable spirit. Even after forty sessions of chemotherapy she would often tell me how grateful she was for everything she had in life. She turned her hospital visits into parties for the nurses. Then she pulled her own plug. “That’s it,” she declared over the phone from her hospital bed. “No more chemo, no more prodding and pulling.” And she checked herself out. Preparing me, she said, “You’ll be shocked at how thin I am.” And I was. Two weeks before she died, she had thirty people over for a party she called, “A Celebration of Life.” This is the time of the year I’ll miss her the most because she especially loved the holidays. She began the ramp up at Thanksgiving and moved into Christmas like Santa driving a Porsche. Christmas trees, lights, gifts, mince pies, crown roasts and candles. Candles — she never put two candles on the table when ten would do. Why am I telling you all this? Because I want you to know that what she looked forward to most of all during her illness, the thing that gave her the biggest lift, was a visit to our local salon for the works – facial, manicure, pedicure, waxing (she didn’t have a hair on her head but her body hair flourished) and getting her various wigs styled. She had one long blonde one that made her feel sexy. So, as we approach the holiday season and get caught up in its commercialism, always remember that the gift of your hands can, for a moment, help a woman forget that she’s dying and make her smile. “Jane, I feel like a million bucks!” A million was cheap. The happiness in her voice was worth much more than that. I’ve always felt proud to be part of this caring industry. Now the gratitude swells my heart. Thank you for everything you do for all the women out there who need to forget something for a while. Our appreciation and gratitude for your partnership with us. We all wish you a holiday season full of satisfaction and hope.