Cancer survivor and her friends get pampered before Sweet 16

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SMITHTOWN -

It came as a surprise to Erika Gottlibb, a cancer survivor from Centereach, that she and eight of her friends would be getting pampered before her Sweet 16 Thursday night.

Gottlibb was diagnosed in 2014 with a rare form of cancer called Ewing sarcoma when she was 12.

The organizations Family Residences and Essential Enterprises and Kids Need More reached out to Cactus Salon in Smithtown to see if they would give Erika and her friends a complimentary day of beauty to look their best for the party.

“We didn't hesitate and my staff jumped right on it," said Fred Mattera, of Cactus Salon.

Erika spent nine months in the hospital after parts of her hip and pelvis were removed. Her mother, Cindy, said it was a difficult time.

"She's kept her spirit through a lot,” she said. “She's in a wheelchair now and that never really kept her down. She keeps going and she's doing great.”

Erika has now been in remission for nearly three years.

"I feel good now, I'm happy. I'm cancer-free and get to be with my friends and family almost every day," said the teen.

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