VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) – A local business made it through the pandemic only to get hit with a double whammy no one saw coming. It’s a story of triumph, tragedy, and hope.

Alfred Kelly Salon in Virginia Beach opened exactly one month before the pandemic forced Virginia to shut down.

“We were so excited to be opening a new business,” said Al Kelly, co-owner of Alfred Kelly Salon.

Al Kelly and Nicole Nash admitted they were scared to open during the pandemic, but during an interview with 10 On your Side in 2020, they said their clients did all they could to keep their business sharp, from buying gift cards to buying hair care products from the salon.

“It almost brings us to tears to know how much we are loved and supported by our clients,” said Nicole back in April of 2020.

Alfred Kelly Salon survived the pandemic to become a thriving business in Town Center. Life was good, but then Nicole fell ill.

“I kept trying to get her to go to the hospital or the doctors. When she finally did, it was kind of like, too late, you know?” said Al through a stream of tears.

Nicole passed away on October 1. The sudden death of one of his dearest friends had Al feeling lost.

“We traveled the world together. We did so many things, and we both love our careers. What I didn’t know she did, and what she didn’t know, I did, and so together we made kind of this power team.”

On the week of Nicole’s passing, there was another hit to the team.

“I got diagnosed with stage 2 kidney cancer.”

Al barely had time to process the loss of Nicole, when doctors brought him in for surgery, successfully removing the cancer from his kidney.

“Now, it’s just a matter of healing and just getting mobile, and getting back to what I love.”

Al plans to re-open the doors of the salon. A new expansion of the business is complete. It’s a remodel Nicole never got to see, but Al knows continuing their dream is what Nicole would have wanted.

“We are going to keep it going, and I say ‘we’ because she’ll be there in spirit. She will.”

A GoFundMe has been set up to help Al cover the cost of his recovery, as well as business costs. If you would like to donate, click here.