Located "under the bridge" in Cartersville's historic downtown, Willow Day Spa offers massage therapy, facials, body wraps and other services in addition to special treatments customized for clients suffering from the effects of cancer.
As a licensed oncology esthetician, Hodge is trained to care for patients who are currently in treatment or have undergone cancer treatment in the past. Oncology esthetics addresses the method of care for spa services in the case of clients with cancer, including issues relating to chemotherapy, radiation, ports and past surgeries.
"It is a fairly new specialty. A lot of people don't even know that it exists," Hodge said. "When they're going through treatments and it slows down the natural body process, their skin cells don't turn over and so a lot of times they need that manual exfoliation.
"If you've had the proper training, it's great for people with cancer at any stage. It helps lower pressure, anxiety, pain, stiffness. It can cut their symptoms sometimes in half just by simple body treatments."
Hodge was compelled to learn the specialty skills of oncology esthetics after a sequence of events changed her life. After working in a Cartersville spa for eight years, Hodge moved to Iowa where she worked with a massage therapist and cosmetologists trained to care for those living with cancer. During that time she was deeply affected when she personally had to turn down a client because she did not possess the proper skills. A month later, Hodge was diagnosed with melanoma, a dangerous form of skin cancer. Her cancer was spotted early and fully removed but the impact inspired her to pursue a license in oncology esthetics.
"It was a series of events that made me feel like every person knows someone that has had cancer or has had it themselves. ... And I just want to be prepared to treat anybody," Hodge said. "I watched [coworkers] treat their patients and I saw what an impact they had. Even if it was the lightest touch, it made them feel good."
In addition to gaining her oncology esthetician license, Hodge began a personal campaign against tanning beds. Tanning regularly in her teens and early 20s, Hodge learned from her own mistakes and vowed to help steer young girls away from the typical tanning routine. At her own spa, she now offers all-natural, vegan spray tanning.
"It really hit me when I had skin cancer, and here I am a skin-care professional, that it could happen to anyone," Hodge said. "It made me want to be an advocate for people and try and promote skin-care checkups every year.
"The spray tanning just became a way to get people away from the tanning beds. ... It's become really popular and we get a lot of people of all ages coming in for a spray tan."
Willow Day Spa also offers NovaLash eyelash extensions, waxing, custom facials and a full nail salon. All products used by Willow Day Spa are all natural.
For more information, visit www.willowdayspa.net or call 678-548-2880. Willow Day Spa is located at 28E. Church St. in Cartersville.