Inspired by her best friend, this woman started an organization to help women battling cancer feel beautiful

When Jackelyn Kastanis found out her childhood best friend, Brooke, had cancer, she dropped everything to be by her side. She not only stayed with her in the hospital, she tried to give her a sense of normalcy – and beauty.

“She was told at 27 years old she had a year to live. Once I found out she was very sick I came home and I took up residency with her in her hospital room,” Kastanis told CBS News. “And I realized it was a very stale environment, it was very sad on her psyche. There was nothing to kind of motivate her to feel like herself and to feel pretty.”

273175803-301605845361822-3394899211215056185-n.jpg
When Jackelyn found out her friend Brooke had cancer at 27, she dropped everything to be by her side, and did her hair and makeup to help her feel normal again.

Simply From The Heart


“And so, I brought hair and makeup and tried anything to lift her spirits,” Kastanis said. “And she, believe it or not, started taking less morphine, and it changed her entire persona.”

Jackelyn wanted to find a way to replicate that mood boost for other women who are battling cancer. She said beauty comes from the inside out, but when you’re in the hospital, sometimes you just need some human interaction.

So, she started visiting hospitals, with volunteers she calls her “glam girls,” to give beauty products and makeovers to women and girls battling illness.

Her nonprofit Simply From The Heart started in Illinois, but volunteers have started chapters across the US

They fill “glam boxes” with 30 beauty products, donated from individuals and corporations, and take them to people in the hospital. Since 2014, they have put together thousands of glam boxes and have touched the lives of more than 5,000 patients.

“It gives them the distraction that they need,” Kastanis said. “I feel that [Brooke] was identified by her illness, and that was what killed me the most.” Brooke died in 2011 but Kastanis still works to help make other people feel confident, just like she did her best friend.

img-3065-1.jpg
Since 2014, Simply From The Heart has put together thousands of glam boxes and have touched the lives of more than 5,000 patients.

Simply From The Heart


“I wanted it to be an experience that felt like Christmas morning, or a birthday, or something just so magical,” she said. “So I thought the glam box, with 30 beauty products — it’s a memory. A memory wrapped up in a box that they can open and reuse.”

Medicine and treatments help them recover, but friendship, kindness – and a little glam – help reignite the light within them.

“One patient, I remember her saying, ‘These girls healed me in a way the doctors could not.’ And I think that spoke a lot to us,” Kastanis said. “You know, we have our doctors and they keep us alive. But emotionally, we all want our souls to feel sparked up to get us through.”

Leave a Comment