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STAFFORD, Va. - A Virginia nail salon employee was fired and others will undergo sensitivity training after mocking a 10-year-old cancer survivor for her appearance.
WJLA-TV reported 10-year-old Iliana Bellard, of Quantico, was diagnosed with anaplastic large cell lymphoma, an aggressive form of cancer that attacks the lymph nodes, in January 2017. The girl underwent chemotherapy for months and recently learned her cancer was in remission. Iliana and her mother, Elizabeth Bellard, decided to get their nails done Friday in celebration.
But what was meant to be a fun trip to the Imperial Salon and Day Spa in Stafford would soon turn sour as employees began mocking Iliana's appearance.
“They called me a boy,” Iliana said. “I was embarrassed a little bit.”
The mother and daughter told local media a nail technician made fun of Iliana's nails, brittle from chemotherapy, and her short hair, saying repeatedly that she looked like a boy.
“She says, 'It looks like a boy is getting her nails done, everybody’s going to think it’s a boy getting his nails done,'” Elizabeth Bellard said. “And they started laughing. And she says, 'I just can’t get over that she looks like a boy,' and they just kept laughing about it.”
The salon manager offered to draw something on the girl's nails for free and a receptionist apologized.
After a social media post about Iliana's experience went viral, officials with the salon released a statement. It said in part, "We do not now, or ever support any of our employees making comments to any of our amazing clients. We value each and every one who walks into our spa. We deeply apologize that this has happened.”
The new manager of the salon, who is identified by WJLA only as "Brandy," said she has fired one employee and suspended two others. She's also ordered sensitivity training for all employees.
Iliana's parents say their daughter is resilient and will recover from this.