(FOX 2) - If you have ever been a patient in the hospital for a long amount of time, you know it can be tough, sometimes depressing, and boring. After experiencing this with her best friend battling cancer, a Dearborn Heights woman is working to change that.
Her foundation, Simply from the Heart, is made up of volunteers that act as a hospital glam squad. Their glam squad helps empower patients, and promotes healing and recovery.
"I just remember thinking when doctors and nurses were around her and she was getting hooked up to ventilators, 'Where is my friend?'" said Jackelyn Kastanis. In 2009, her best friend Brooke Bolley was diagnosed with esophageal cancer. Complications led to the amputation of her leg. Jackelyn found a simple way to help.
"She was so internally beautiful, and that is how she connected with people," Jackelyn said. "She was a hairdresser herself and her identity was stripped; her identity disappeared. I just kept thinking if you can't get to the salon Brooke, the salon is going to come to you."
Jackelyn began pampering her friend during her hospital stays. The change was evident almost immediately.
"It gives me goosebumps because it gave her life again, seeing what she looked like, not so much as a patient anymore, and being excited to see people again. Her spirits changed."
Brook, sadly lost her cancer battle a little over a year later, but watching what a little pampering did for her best friend the during the remainder of her life inspired Jacklyn to create her foundation.
Volunteers visit patients of all ages in the hospital and offer to do their hair, make up and nails, and give massage and facials, helping them feel as beautiful on the outside as they are on the inside. Like 11-year-old Abby Cornell from Clarkston, who has spent the last week in Royal Oak's Beaumont Hospital.
"It's been really hard because I had to be on bedrest and I wasn't really allowed to move around a lot," said Cornell, a sixth-grader. "So these girls coming in here and doing this, it means so much."
"This is amazing because she has been so sad, very bored because can't really get in and out of bed, because of her heart rate and stuff like that," said her mom, Andrea Cornell. "It's been really nice."
Seventeen-year-old Theresa O'Connor, who has spent the last month in the hospital fighting leukemia says a visit from these cheerful ladies clad in pink makes her feel more like herself.
"I wasn't sure about it at first but then I went down and I started talking to all of them and they did my nails," she said. "It was a really nice opportunity and nice people to talk to.
"You feel pretty when you don't have your hair, you feel pretty getting other things done on you."
For just a little while, the patients are free from a sterile setting and painful treatments, and feel like they are being pampered in a salon. They even get a free glam box stocked with beauty products.
Jackelyn started Simply from the Heart five years ago with her own money. Since then Jackelyn and her team of almost 100 volunteers offer this caring concierge service at hospitals in four different states.
And when people see how a little love and care empowers patients like Abbey they want to do what they can to help.
"My tears have become joy because, for the family members, it becomes a safe happy zone for them," said Jackelyn. "They are able to walk out and take a shower and a breath because I can't tell you how many moms and dads look at me in tears and say I have not seen my kid smile like this in so long."
All of this is run by volunteers. To help with expenses they rely on product donations and volunteers. If you would like to help, visit www.simplyfromtheheart.org.