'Friends are by your side' helps cancer patients

August 31, 2012

12 year-old Kiarah - or Kiki – Bowley met Justin Bieber earlier this year. It was a dream come true for the little girl who is battling an aggressive kidney cancer that has spread.

Kiarah has a new hair-do Friday, a wig styled with feathers. She missed most of school last year, so this year she is looking forward to going back and showing off her new look.

"Seeing my friends and new teachers," is what Kiki says she is looking forward to.

Both the free wig and meeting the "Biebs" were made possible by Martino Cartier, a salon owner in South Jersey and founder of Friends are by your side.com

The foundation also helps adults.

Paula Connolly was diagnosed with lymphoma in 2010. It was the same time her husband needed a lung transplant. She beat cancer, but lost her partner.

As her hair grew back with different texture, she says she felt lost.

"I just felt, like beaten down," she said. "I was depressed. It was awful."

But thanks to Friends are by your side.com, she and other cancer survivors can get a free wig and have their hair styled for free as it grows back.

"We color it, we cut it for free, we do keratin treatments because it usually grows in coarse. Basically we do their hair for free until it looks the way it did before cancer took it," said Martino Cartier.

The foundation has about 400 salons participating. Martino says the reward of brightening someone's day is priceless.

"What gets you through awful times is faith and kindness and people's love," said Paula. "He knows he is blessed, and he gives back his blessings."

Martino says the best way to help is through donations or by asking your salon to partner with Friends are by your side.com.

If you would like to get involved in the fight against pediatric cancer, Eastern High School in Voorhees, New Jersey is hosting a 5K run on September 16th. All the proceeds will go to Alex's Lemonade Stand.

And there is still time to sign up. Action New reporter and Registered Nurse Ali Gorman will be there along with some others from the Action News family.


5K run supporting pediatric cancer research

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