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NewsTribune photo/Katlyn Rumbold Believe Foundation founder Mary VanKeulan (left) and thyroid cancer survivor Jennifer Fisher show a few of the bras that will be featured during Saturday’s A Celebration to Believe In fundraiser. It is the first year of the designer bra contest. Participants are encouraged to bring with them a designed bra and the best bra (voted on by the public) will be awarded the ‘Best Boobie Award.’ All proceeds will help local cancer patients, VanKeulan said.
PRINCETON — One Ohio woman remembers April 2013 like it was yesterday.
That was the month her whole life changed. That was the month Renae Philhower, 21, was diagnosed with hodgkin’s lymphoma, a cancer of the lymph tissue.
What followed was a nightmare, but thanks to the Believe Foundation Philhower found hope she could beat this thing.
And she did, as of January 2014 Philhower is in remission.
“I started chemo in May 2013,” said Philhower who at the time was in stage 4. “I lost my hair in July of 2013 and I got a wig from the American Cancer Society, but then I was told about the Believe Foundation in Princeton.
“They helped a lot. People don’t realize what people are going through unless they’ve been through it. I’d never have been able to afford wigs like that without the Believe Foundation.”
Founded in 2008 by Sophistacuts Salon & Wellness Boutique owner Mary VanKeulan, the Believe Foundation is a non-profit foundation that makes customized wigs depending solely on donations and Saturday, July 26 from 10 a.m.-8 p.m. at the Bureau County Metro Center you too can take part in giving hope to local cancer patients during the third annual ‘A Celebration to Believe In.’
Proceeds will go to benefit local cancer patients with expenditures such as wigs, post surgical needs, fresh non-contaminated make-up, make-up brushes, and other related items.
“My passion is making people look good and feel better about themselves,” said VanKeulan. “Something such as a hairstyle can help boost confidence. During my career I have had several guests confide in me with their very personal news of starting their journey with this awful disease. Their first question for me is ‘what should I do when I start to loose my hair?’ The fear and tears in their eyes broke my heart.”
Early on VanKeulan remembers watching them leave her salon with a look of defeat after she’d shave their heads, but now they leave with a smile thanks to the Believe Foundation and the work that goes into cutting, coloring, perming, and styling wigs for patients.
“I knew then that I was not doing what God put me in this career to do — help people feel good about themselves,” VanKeulan recalled of why she started Believe. “Not only have we been able to customize wigs [over the years], we are now able to personally fit our patients with post-op surgical items as well.”
Philhower recalled going into the Believe Foundation not feeling pretty and leaving feeling refreshed and beautiful.
“It’s like a support system having them there,” explained Philhower of the stylists who make Believe what it is.
“They’re very comforting and helpful.”
Both Philhower and VanKeulan are looking forward to this year’s fundraiser as it is the first year of the designer bra contest.
Participants are encouraged to bring with them a designed bra and the best bra (voted on by the public) will be awarded the ‘Best Boobie Award.’
Again, all proceeds will stay local helping out local cancer patients, VanKeulan said.