Sennik inquired about the family and offered to help them in any way he could, but the woman initially dismissed his overtures as "spam."
Then one day, she mentioned to her mother that someone named Oleg Sennik had been in touch.
"Her mother wrote me this letter saying that Lessya had cancer and a big hole in her chin and was starting to die," he said.
For the next 18 months, Sennik flew back and forth to see his cousin, even taking her to a doctor in Ukraine who told them she never had cancer.
Meanwhile, he had told his hairdressing clients about his cousin's health problems. One was married to a doctor who suggested his colleagues might help.
Sennik, who is an American citizen, arranged for a green card. Kotelevskaya arrived in the United States on July 5 with her son Erik, who is 6.
"She was so fragile from lack of nutrition," he said. "She can't even open her mouth one millimeter. It takes her so long to eat."
Today, Kotelevskaya weighs 126 pounds and is looking forward to her surgery.
"The doctor said she probably won't be able to open her mouth as wide as we can because the radiation killed the joint that connects the jaw," said Sennik. "The nerves have to come back."
But Sennik said she is hopeful after so many years of ostracism. And Kotelevskaya told him she wants to study to be a nurse.
"She can't believe people smile at her and look her in the eye," said Sennik.