Promise connects best friends after diagnosis

2013-04-18T15:45:00Z 2013-04-18T16:16:22Z Promise connects best friends after diagnosisContributed by Lesly Bailey Times correspondent nwitimes.com

CHESTERTON | Best friends Diane Santiago and Denise Francis have a lifetime of shared experiences built on a friendship that began in high school.

Today, a promise connects the two despite the fact that Santiago faces a daily struggle with Alzheimer’s disease and doesn’t remember Francis’ name.

“When Diane was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, I promised her I would always take care of her manicure and pedicure needs,” Francis said.

Every six weeks Francis visits Santiago at The Waters of Duneland care facility with her Mobile Day Spa Service continuing to bond with her old friend.

“Diane and I have known each other since high school and remained friends through all the ups and downs of life ... raising kids, divorce, family illness and funerals. We had a lot of fun in those years too. You don't know many people in your life you share that much history with,” Francis said.

Santiago’s uncle also faced the disease.

“Diane’s uncle Jack had Alzheimer’s and we watched his decline so we both knew what was in her future. We used to talk about high school and other past events she could remember easily,” Francis said. “We went out often when she was still living at home to places and things we both enjoyed ... like a drive to the beach, a stop at the root beer stand for a cold one or lunch at our favorite Chinese restaurant. I need to remember to stay in the moment when I am with her because that’s all she knows.”

Francis has been an Indiana certified massage therapist for 25 years and a licensed nail technician for 12 years. She developed her mobile spa techniques over the past decade for friends and family when they were hospitalized, in rehabilitation or homebound.

She recently completed a class on oncology/cancer massage and is offering that service as well to Porter County cancer patients through her mobile spa service as well as at the Healing Arts Center in Valparaiso where she works part time.

“Spa services make people feel good, look good and give a feeling of normalcy to their life when they are unable to go out for even simple pleasures. Diane still enjoys seated massage and reflexology on her hands and feet even though she can’t ask. That makes it important to me that I keep my promise to her,” Francis said.

For more information, contact Francis at mobiledayspaservice@hotmail.com or call (219) 929-1199.

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