Alberta Cancer Foundation

Beautiful Business

Saundra Shapiro’s business cuts a lot of hair. Compassionate Beauty, a Calgary center for women undergoing cancer treatment, treats more than 1,000 patients a year with special spa treatments, breast prostheses and a head shave for women dealing with chemotherapy. Shapiro says the head shaves are free and describes them as “the most emotional service we offer.”

Two years ago, Shapiro did her most memorable head shave. “I had to do it for my mother,” she says. “My knees buckled a whole bunch.” Shapiro’s mother eventually recovered from the lymphoma that necessitated the cut.

Shapiro makes her living from — and pours her heart into — Compassionate Beauty, which also offers an extensive selection of wigs, cancer treatment-safe manicures and cosmetic tattooing to help with missing eyebrows. The most popular services deal with breast cancer. “I hope to give people more control over the side effects of the disease,” she says. “I want them to pick up their kids at school and not have them feel uncomfortable. I want them to go to the restaurant and have the waiter only care about how they like their supper cooked.”