‘Tender Loving Care’ day: pampering Montreal’s cancer and palliative care patients

"It puts a smile in each and every patient's face,” said Diana Gouvopoulos, a former nurse at Montreal’s St-Mary’s hospital who introduced an initiative to provide patients with beauty treatments and meals. Diona Macalinga reports.

Nurse Diana Gouvopoulos wants to bring a smile to the face of cancer and palliative care patients at the St. Mary’s hospital in Côte-des-Neiges–Notre-Dame-de-Grâce by giving them a different type of treatment — one that involves haircuts, mani-pedis and some fine dining.

“Being in a hospital bed, unkept and disheveled is… We’re just giving their dignity back,” said Gouvopoulos, former nurse at the hospital.

She added that, “our goal is to eliminate the isolation as well as the loneliness that has been happening in every hospital bed in the world presently. It was just heart wrenching just to see everybody alone. It’s sad.

“It’s just they’re literally left alone. So, at this point, I thought, what can I do?”

Called ‘Tender Loving Care’ (TLC) day, it is a widely used treatment nurses provide to patients from the kindness of their heart. Gouvopoulos introduced the initiative at St-Mary’s in 2018, where she asked friends and families to volunteer, and sponsors to donate goodie bags and a full course meal. This is their third year holding TLC day.

This year, patients received steaks, gourmet donuts, champagne, and pizza from local restaurants.


Diana Gouvopoulos and her dad who supported her in the initiative of Tender Loving Care day, since the beginning. Feb. 26, 2023. (Credit: Diona Macalinga/CityNews)

“A lot of people wanted to donate money. Money is not our goal here,” Gouvopoulos said. “It’s just one day out of the year just to give a little bit of love. And it’s just overflowing.”

One of the volunteer hairstylist Christina Fotakis says “Instead of flowers, I said this is the best thing to do. To give your time and your love and make people happy. This is better.”

Nine years of treatment for colon cancer and eventually lung cancer, Ron Dickinson says this is the first time he’s ever received this sort of treatment at a hospital.

“I never expected this at all. It’s been a fun day. I’m waiting for my steak now,” he said with a smile.

Cancer patient Ryan Dickinson getting pampered by volunteer manicurist and hairstylist during Tender Love and Care day. Feb. 26, 2023. (Credit: Diona Macalinga/CityNews)

Gouvopolous says “a lot of people think that we’re giving I receive more than I’m giving at this point.

“Breaking the monotony of being alone, it puts a smile in each and every patient’s face as well as the nurses. When they enter into the room, just as I did, to see their patients happy is something.”

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