When Peggy Matzen and Debbie Sestokas met in 2004 at an American Cancer Society event, a friendship sparked as the two cancer survivors found they had much in common.
Matzen, of Basking Ridge, and Sestokas, of Warren, were both busy moms, looking to help others after their bouts with cancer.
And as they volunteered, they met a steady stream of women diagnosed with cancer who struggled with the news, treatments and changes the cancers caused.
"We thought, wouldn't it be great if you could just escape?" Matzen said. Just have a day to get away from the pressures of doctor visits, prying questions and workplaces.
A day to spend being pampered, and treated...like a diva.
That's when they launched the Diva for a Day Foundation, which solicits donations of time from spas, flowers from florists, lunches from restaurants, which are all used to make for a very special day for a selected "diva." A Friday evening fundraiser at Rolf's in Warren will help the foundation reach more divas.
Since launching in 2010, the Diva for a Day Foundation has given about 40 women the diva treatment, according to Matzen.
"We started in 2010 with one spa, so we only did one a month," she said. But they've added five more this year, so more divas can be pampered. Participating salons and spas include Plaza Salon & Spa, Kaleidoscope Salon, and Fine Lines Salon and Spa in Chatham.
And how do the divas enjoy their special day?
"It's a beautiful thing. We've had such a great response," Matzen said. "All of the divas on their day see all these people who all donate their time just to make their day special."
The foundation hasn't done much fundraising so far—there's a need for participating spas and shops more than funding, but with inquiries from Clinton and Madison to expand into those areas, Matzen notes the administrative requirements are increasing.
Rolf's planned a breast cancer awareness event for Friday, with the intention of donating a portion of Friday's sales to a charity. Rolf's employee Jill Mobus suggested the Diva for a Day Foundation, and manager Tim Preston agreed.
The event starts at 7 p.m. Raffles will be held throughout the evening also, to further help the foundation. A suggested donation of $10 will help, but be sure to also purchase raffle tickets—items to be raffled include a 20-inch flat screen TV and more.
If you know someone recently diagnosed with cancer or within six months of treatment, who needs the "diva treatment," nominate them to be a diva for a day with the foundation's nomination form.