A Woman Battling Breast Cancer Was Turned Away from MAC Cosmetics -- & Ulta Saved the Day

Alicia Bentley/Facebook; Kayla Parsons/Facebook

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Alicia Bentley/Facebook; Kayla Parsons/Facebook
Kayla Parsons, 26, has been battling breast cancer since she was 25 years old. Though she has finished her chemotherapy treatment, Parsons is gearing up for a bilateral mastectomy with lymph node removal on the right side this July. She had heard from other survivors that it is important to capture the way you looked "before," not just for the memories, but to heal spiritually as well as physically. Taking the advice to heart, Parsons booked a makeup appointment for a stylized photo shoot that her friend of Shamber Perry Photography offered to do for her.

  • "I've never been a makeup person, so I have no idea how to really do full face makeup. Eyebrows and eyelashes are definitely beyond my expertise."

    Because of her delicate condition, there are precautions that she had to take. So she called a MAC Cosmetics store and put in a special request -- she needed new brushes and for the artist to kindly wear a mask, as her immune system is weak. At first they were totally compliant, she says -- but hours before the appointment, they completely changed their minds. 

    More from CafeMom: 10 Silent Signs of Cervical Cancer Women Shouldn't Ignore

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  • That's when Alicia Bentley, her best friend since childhood, took to Facebook to call them out -- and praise Ulta Beauty for saving the day.

    Here's the full story according to a post Bentley wrote on Facebook:

    "An hour before her appointment today they called and said they were mistaken, they didn't use new brushes, just cleaned. But Kayla felt ok about it because they agreed to clean them a second time. The manager called back and informed Kayla (remember we are on our way to the mall at this point and have a time frame for today) that the girl just didn't feel comfortable wearing a mask (yes the SAME girl that said she would absolutely wear one 4 or 5 days ago). UM WHAT?! She argued about it also being in their policy. OK! Why was this not said last week when she went inside the store to make sure all of this could be possible! 

    I could hear the manager arguing with Kayla on the phone! Telling her she could still come in and wear the mask herself and they could do her makeup around it. OK?! Because wearing a mask while they're trying to put makeup on you makes total sense!!! I am LIVID at this point. The audacity of this manager to ARGUE WITH A CUSTOMER who had already asked all of these questions LAST WEEK.

    So with 10 minutes until she really needs to start getting makeup on I told her to stop and ask Ulta. Let me just tell you that I feel like crying tears of happiness. These ladies opened NEW brushes for her even though we just asked them to clean them a second time. They have been so nice and helpful and not once made her feel like a burden. As you can see, they were more than willing to wear the stupid mask!"

  • "I guess the best way to sum it up is that I felt like a huge burden," Parsons tells CafeMom.

    Shamber Perry Photography
    Shamber Perry Photography
    "A little human decency goes a long way," Bentley tells us. "They agreed to the accommodations and then, with no notice, rudely turned her away last-minute. I would hate to hear of this happening to someone else."

    Nevertheless, the photos came out beautifully, and Parsons is just beyond thankful that Ulta Beauty came through.  

    Especially as it was about so much more than "looking pretty."

  • "It's amazing how much more feminine you feel with eyebrows and eyelashes, and they completely knocked my eye makeup out of the park."

    Shamber Perry Photography

    "I felt so much more like myself -- well, I guess my old self -- when I looked in the mirror and saw long lashes and full eyebrows," Parsons reveals. "I'm scared that sounds petty and superficial, but it's true."

    And for Bentley, seeing her best friend shine was all that mattered.

    "It honestly broke my heart. She's been through so much more than what she's let the outside world see. I wanted this day to go well for her."

    More from CafeMom: 11 Kid-Friendly Foods That Have Been Linked to Cancer

  • And while the two are so grateful to Ulta Beauty and the compassion they showed, Parsons is especially thankful for her best friend.

    "She has held me while I was sick, gone with me to chemo, taken me to get fluids, taken me on mini vacations to get me out of town and improve my spirits, and even shaved her head with me so I wouldn't feel alone," Parsons shares. "And she's done all of this while raising three beautiful babies and being an amazing wife to her husband. She's just the best person I know."

  • Though the experience started out as a negative one, Parsons notes that overall she's felt a lot of love and support.

    Shamber Perry Photography

    "In general I've been blown away by the kindness and support of people," she says. "I do think that some people believe that people exploit their illness for preferential treatment, which is disheartening and absolutely not what I was trying to. You want to try and maintain some sense of normalcy, because the mental battle is just as hard as the physical."

    Looks like Ulta Beauty has gained at least two lifelong customers!

body image cancer breasts emotional health illness spirituality