STAFFORD, Va. (WJLA/CNN) -- The manager at a Virginia nail salon said employees will undergo sensitivity training after mocking a 10-year-old cancer survivor.
Iliana Bellard, of Quantico, was diagnosed with anaplastic large cell lymphoma, an aggressive form of cancer that attacks the lymph nodes, in January 2017.
"It started in her shoulder and eventually covered up all of her heart," said the girl's mother, Elizabeth Bellard.
Nearly two years later, Iliana's cancer is in remission.
“They call her the miracle child because they weren’t expecting what happened,” Bellard said. “So she’s definitely a fighter.”
The mother told WJLA she took her daughter to the Imperial Salon and Day Spa in Stafford for a manicure last Friday. But their spa day turned sour after employees reportedly made fun of Iliana.
"They called me a boy," she said.
Her mother added that a nail technician said "it looks like a boy is getting her nails done. It looks like everybody's going to think that a boy has his nails done."
Bellard said she explained to a manager that her daughter had just finished chemotherapy, and that this was her first outing in public. The salon manager apologized and offered to draw something on Iliana’s nails for free.
But after the girl’s aunt posted a write-up about the encounter on social media, users began scolding the spa on its Facebook page and in Yelp reviews.
The salon later responded with an online apology, saying, 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 spa hired a new manager, who wished to be identified only as Brandy. She said she has since fired one employee and suspended two others.
Elizabeth Bellard said she hopes this is a teachable moment for everyone.
“It’s not okay whether it was a child with cancer or without cancer,” Elizabeth Bellard says. “Just bullying, it’s not okay.”
When asked what advice she would give to someone in similar situation, Iliana replied: "If anyone called you a boy, no matter what, you’re pretty."