Cuban salon gives hope to breast cancer survivors

Chicago.- October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, an annual campaign to increase awareness of the disease. Illinois ranked as the 9th highest in the U.S. for cases of breast cancer, according to the latestsurvey conducted by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2011.

Sandra Plasencia owns Havana Nights Nails and Spa on Chicago’s North side, which offers permanent make-up reconstructive services for breast cancer survivors. (PHOTO BY SYLVIA OBEN)

Sandra Plasencia owns Havana Nights Nails and Spa on Chicago’s North side, which offers permanent make-up reconstructive services for breast cancer survivors. (PHOTO BY SYLVIA OBEN)

Sandra Plasencia, 41, the owner of Havana Nights Nails and Spa at 4754 N. Lincoln Ave., has always been involved with the beauty industry and decided to dedicate her passion to help others. She came to Chicago about 13 years ago from Cuba. She named her salon in honor of the city she came from.

“I give [the breast cancer survivors] back their beauty,” said Plasencia. “A little bit of what life took from them.”

Plasencia specializes in eyebrow restoration and nipple reconstruction with permanent makeup.

“Women, when they look at themselves in a mirror and they see that everything is there, they feel better about themselves,” Plasencia said.

She decided to open a business in Chicago because it was too hard for her to open a beauty salon in Cuba. She said women in Havana still always wanted to look good.

“In Cuba, there is no opportunity for business,” Plasencia said. “The government wouldn’t allow you to open a business. Especially back then in 2012. It’s very hard to find the supplies.”

In 2000, Plasencia worked in a hotel in Cuba and met her former husband, who lives in Chicago. After two years they married, and they decided to move to Chicago.

“If we had to make a life together it was better to make it [in Chicago] than in Cuba,” Plasencia, 41, said. “In Cuba there aren’t opportunities for growing as a professional.”

Plasencia said she visits Cuba often.

On Nov. 6 she is planning a trip there. In order to travel she had to renew her passport but since the city doesn’t have an office that helps Cubans with this process, she had to do it through an agency in Miami called Damuji Services Inc.

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