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updated: 8/19/2011 7:01 PM

Volunteer work for cancer patients pays off for Arlington Heights salon

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Technically, Chris Nelson owns a beauty salon. But it's her work with cancer patients that convinced the Arlington Heights Village Board to let her stay in a building with the wrong zoning.

"To put a smile on somebody's face that doesn't have much hope -- that means more to me than anything," said Nelson.

Personal Appearance Hair Salon is in the north part of the village, at 3295 N. Arlington Heights Road. The property is zoned for manufacturing uses.

On a volunteer basis, Nelson styles and trims wigs provided by the American Cancer Society. The wigs ultimately go to people who have hair loss due to chemotherapy.

She also performs services for fees, such as laser therapy to encourage hair growth after cancer treatment or conditions that have caused loss. Skin care treatments can also improve the comfort of patients, she said.

As part of her petition to allow her to remain at the location despite its zoning, Nelson said that a discreet site that isn't in a place like an active strip mall is important to many of her clients.

Nelson, who works with her daughter, Mandi Milner, moved into the shop in March, but was denied a business license because of the zoning issue. The business was allowed to operate while her petition to the board was pending.

"This is a big relief," she said after the board's decision. "I had to write so many papers and go to so many meetings. I got a lot of positive feelings from the village staff, but I knew it could be rejected."