“Look Good…Feel Better is a non-medical, brand-neutral public service program that teaches beauty techniques to cancer patients to help them manage the appearance-related side effects of cancer treatment”.
In recognition of National Breast Cancer Awareness month, I’d like to share a cause that is definitely a “favorite” of mine, and one that I’ve been privileged to be a part of for several years.
In 2004, having been a free-lance make-up artist for over a decade, I was tiring of listening to spoiled, privileged women complaining about a lipstick being out of stock or not getting enough free samples with their purchase. I had heard about Look Good…Feel Better and decided to volunteer my services. I have since run the program for two local hospitals and one oncology center and it is one of the personal accomplishments in my life that I’m most proud of.
Look Good..Feel Better is a program sponsored by the Personal Care Products Council Foundation, the National Cosmetology Association and the American Cancer Society. It consists of a two-hour hands-on workshop during which women are instructed in skin care, make-up application and wig/hair styling. Each participant receives a “goody” bag filled with every type of make-up and skin care imaginable, all donated by some of the largest and most prestigious companies in the country.
The spirit of the program is lovely – providing women who are going through a dismal, painful and very frightening time in their lives, two hours of pure escape and fun (and a bag full of free make-up). Does what we do cure? No. Does it replace treatment? No. But during a time where they are probably not feeling their most attractive or appealing, simply putting on a bright lipstick or learning some new make-up tricks and tips can be more of a mood-lifter than they realize.
For some women this is the first time they’ve ever worn make-up at all and it’s amazing to watch, as they look in the mirror, their entire beings transform.
The session usually starts out the same. Some women bring a friend/sister/daughter – for moral, physical or emotional support. Others come in alone and sit quietly, clearly self-conscious. There are various stages of hair loss – some complete, with wigs to cover, others with cropped hair that is slowly returning and others who’ve not lost theirs. Yet. Those are the ones eyeing the others in the room warily.
And then the session begins. Everyone opens their bags and you can immediately feel the mood in the room shift. Lots of oohs and aahs. And as they start to play with the make-up – applying foundation, blending a blush, layering lipstick – a transformation occurs. They start complimenting one another. They swap products. They laugh. The wigs often come off. One group, so thrilled with how fabulous they looked at the end of the session, all went out for lunch afterward – not wanting to “waste” all that beauty. And they truly were beautiful.
And me? I leave feeling so rewarded. For showing someone how to re-create her eyebrows, which are completely gone. For demonstrating how the right foundation can give a glow to a skin that’s been made dull through months of treatment. For hearing that, for two hours, someone completely forgot that she was sick – and that she felt safe and comfortable in a room full of strangers in a way that she hasn’t felt anywhere else since her ordeal began.
If you are reading this and going through this experience, or know someone who is, please treat yourself or a loved one to this program. It is completely free and so much fun. There are programs all over the country, and your local ACS branch can direct you to the one closest to you.
Wondering what favor-”ette” means? Click here!