Health Check: Cut-a-thon for Crohn's disease

Joyce Traini isn't just a hair stylist at Femme Fatale hair salon on Providence's East Side, she's the owner.

But more importantly, she'll tell you she's the grandmother of Sydney, who a few years was diagnosed with a chronic gastrointestinal disease.

"It was a very scary situation. I along with Tanya, because we see Sydney a lot, didn't notice her weight loss in the beginning and then it suddenly became apparent that there was really something wrong," Traini said.

"Syd was 8 years old in third grade," said Tanya Rivera, Sydney's mother.

The eventual diagnosis was Crohn's disease.

Alison Rosenfeld also was diagnosed in the third grade, 14 years ago.

"When I was first diagnosed there were a lot of dramatic eating restrictions," said Rosenfeld. "In addition to that, I suffered from exhaustion because of the disease. So, I was a gymnast and I went from training 20 hours a week to training three hours a week."

Rosenfeld continues to live with Crohn's, a form of inflammatory bowel disease, but she manages with medication therapy. She's also involved in the fight for a cure as national manager of Team Challenge, an endurance training and fundraising program for the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America.

She's in Providence to personally promote an upcoming cut-a-thon in Sydney's honor to benefit the foundation. The haircut by Traini is a bonus.

"We have made dramatic strides in terms of research. The Crohn's and Colitis Foundation itself since the beginning has funded over $200 million worth of research," Rosenfeld said.

Much of that research is genetic in nature.

"Now we have over 100 genes associated with those diseases. So, we're not only on our way in terms of research to funding different initiatives to find better treatments for the disease but we're on our way toward a cure," Rosenfeld said.

Rosenfeld and Sydney are beneficiaries of the better treatments.

"Even though her symptoms are at bay most days, it's still something she deals with on a daily basis and will have to until a cure is found," Rivera said.

Femme Fatale raised $4,000 last year for the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation. Traini said she's hoping to raise more this year.

The salon will have a staff of 16 hairstylists, all of them donating their time at her salon at 461 Angell St. from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday.

She's asking for a donation of at least $25 for each haircut, all of it going to the foundation.