Mondays at Racine is the uplifting story of two sisters helping women with cancer look and feel beautiful. The film was directed by Cynthia Wade (Freeheld) and produced also by Wade and Robin Honan.
Sisters Rachel Demolfetto and Cynthia Sansone should be called the Angels of Long Island. I say this because one Monday a month, they open their salon, Racine Salone de Beauté, to women who have been diagnosed with cancer and pamper them. The sisters offer manicures, pedicures, makeup application and other salon services free of charge in honor of their mother, herself diagnosed with cancer. Both ladies said that their mother felt so bad about her appearance, thanks to chemotherapy and the ravages of the disease itself, that she shut herself in. Cynthia and Rachel decided that they would start Mondays at Racine so cancer patients could feel as normal as possible and support each other through such a difficult time in their lives. Women just like Cambria and Linda.
Cambria, a 36-year old wife and mother, had been diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer, through 17 chemotherapies, and was losing her hair bit by bit, not just on her head but in other places. Cambria decided to shave her head and be done with it, but she was terrified. Shaving her head would cement the fact that she indeed had cancer and she wasn’t sure she could handle it. So it was a good thing that she went to Racine because there, Cambria was surrounded by love and support. Although the act of shaving her head was still extremely upsetting, Cambria was able to get through it and also gained a new friend in Linda.
Linda, 58 years old and also a wife and mother, had been living with cancer since 1994 when she was first diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer. The doctors gave Linda 5 years but she has defied that prediction by surviving for 17 years. But cancer, and the 14 chemotherapies she had endured took a toll on her body, her mind and her marriage. Her husband, whom Linda married a year out of high school and called “Mr. Fix-It,” had an extremely hard time dealing with his wife’s illness. So much so, that his faith in God was shattered. Linda’s husband couldn’t figure out why someone as wonderful as his wife had to suffer so. Needless to say, the marriage was on shaky ground.
Although the subject matter of Mondays at Racine is sad, I call this film uplifting because it showed what a bit of pampering can do to keep a cancer patient’s focus on her treatment, recovery, family, and most importantly, herself. It’s not about vanity or nail polish, but maintaining some sense of normalcy in a situation that is not normal. But this film is also about being with people who understand what it means to have cancer. Cambria and Linda were able to form a bond because of their cancer. Linda, having lived with the disease for so long, was able to answer not only Cambria’s questions about the physical aspects of cancer, but also the emotional ones, as well. Both women were able to lean on and support each other as they made very difficult decisions in their lives.
As for Cynthia and Rachel, I applaud them for opening their salon to provide these women with the support they need. Money usually favors all these days and it is extremely refreshing to see business owners put their clients’ well being over profits.
Mondays at Racine is currently airing on HBO, HBO2, HBO On Demand and HBO GO.
Photos courtesy of HBO.