Metro Giving: Beauty in a time of illness

Rikki Appleman just finished radiation therapy.

Welcome back to Metro Giving! Every other Tuesday, Metro features New Yorkers who have decided to make a difference in their community, plus ways you can get involved and help out. Want to recommend someone to be featured in Metro Giving? E-mail

In 1997, makeup artist Ramy Gafni had achieved what he thought was the peak of his career. He was employed at a top Fifth Avenue salon and had just started to work with celebrity clients.

Then, at the age of 31, he was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Chemo made him lose his thick curly hair. He gained 30 pounds. And then the final indignity: The salon fired him, saying, “You’re not the pretty boy we once hired.”

That was all the motivation Gafni needed. He launched his own brand of cosmetics out of his studio apartment. Allure magazine praised his work in eyebrow shaping. By the time his products were sold at Bergdorf Goodman, Gafni knew he had made it.

Now he works with everyone from Taylor Swift to Rihanna.

But he hasn’t forgotten a time when he felt less than beautiful.

“You’re going through treatment, your hair is falling out and suddenly there’s a stranger staring at you in the mirror,” he said of cancer.

For the past 10 years, Gafni has taught classes at CancerCare on Seventh Avenue. He provides free wigs and makeup consultations for women battling the disease.

“People think the cosmetic industry can be so superficial, but it’s really about doing something really powerful that helps people,” he said.

“When you’re fighting for your life, you want to use every tool at your disposal,”?he added. “And that includes the right blush and concealer.”

Donate and win

Gafni is trying to raise $20,000 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma
Society. If you donate through, you will be eligible to win
prizes ranging from a year of free brow-shaping, $1,400 worth of
free products or a free home or spa makeup party.

Follow Carly Baldwin on Twitter at @CarlyatMetro.

Breaking: National

Peter Theo Curtis: American released by Syrian militants…

An American writer freed this week from two years in the captivity of insurgents in Syria spoke briefly outside his family's Cambridge home Wednesday of…


Rock legend Neil Young files for divorce after…

The legendary Canadian rocker Neil Young has filed for divorce from his wife of 36 years.


FDNY debuts new fire simulator for blazes at…

The New York City Fire Department christened its newest, state-of-the-art, custom-built simulator at its training academy on Randall's Island Tuesday.


Brewer celebrates Women's Equality Day with voter pledge

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer celebrated Women’s Equality Day Tuesday by pledging to register at least five women voters before the Oct. 10 deadline. Brewer…


Review: 'The Last of Robin Hood' is a…

Dakota Fanning plays Errol Flynn's (Kevin Kline) teenage gal pal in "The Last of Robin Hood," which takes a scandal and makes it dully empathetic.


Review: The uneven 'Life of Crime' mostly gets…

Elmore Leonard's "The Switch" becomes the new indie crime dramedy "Life of Crime," with Jennifer Aniston as a kidnapped woman whose husband won't pay up.


Review: Pierce Brosnan gets a cut-rate Bond knockoff…

Pierce Brosnan tries to reclaim his glory days with the spy thriller "The November Man" but instead gets a sad DTV-style ripoff with lame action.


Tiesto headlines Made in America

Electronic music legend Tiesto is ready to get in touch with his inner Rocky at the Jay Z-curated Budweiser Made in America festival this weekend…


When are 2014 college football playoffs? (Schedule, date,…

When and where are 2014 college football playoffs? A look at the schedule, date, TV, time for the semi-finals at championship game.


Dimitri Patterson suspended only for rest of preseason…

Dimitri Patterson ended up getting just a slap on the wrist.


Eugenie Bouchard excited for 'rowdy' fans at US…

Eugenie Bouchard is sure to endear herself to New York's tennis faithful as she tries to win her first grand slam title across the next two weeks.


MLB Power Rankings: Angels and A's still at…

MLB Power Rankings: Angels and A's still at top, Nationals climb


Stop eating lunch at your desk

What are you doing for lunch today? If you are like most workers, you'll be eating at your desk - which isn't much of a…


Lure your baby to sleep with Maroon 5…

These new renditions of "Moves Like Jagger" and "Payphone" are Maroon 5 like you've never heard them before.


Who is having the most orgasms?

  Single lesbians report having orgasms more often than heterosexual women but both gay and straight men still come out on top of the climax…


Jonathan Adler shares his tips for a great…

Jonathan Adler took a break from boogie boarding at his beach house to tell us how to keep that Labor Day party festive.