Fashion & Beauty

Beauty through Cancer

By Juliana Day

When a Texas Medical Center celebrated "National Cancer Survivors Day" by hosting a "Day of Beauty", hundreds of patients, survivors and their caregivers were pampered with beauty treatments and provided with hair extensions, wigs and cosmetics.

Now, a "Day of Beauty" is a frequent event sponsored by medical centers and community groups across North America.

Cancer treatments such as chemotherapy cause profound changes to a woman's body. Chemotherapy often causes biochemical changes such as reduced estrogen and progesterone, which play havoc with the emotions. And changes to a woman's physical appearance such as hair loss and red, peeling skin, are often devastating.

For women living with cancer, standard beauty techniques don't work. Hair loss, disappearing eyebrows and discolored skin introduce questions like, "Where can I find wigs and head coverings?" "What eye stencils will work best to create eyebrows?" "Should I get fake nails?" "Should I color my hair" "What's the best way to treat peeling skin and discolored blotchiness?"

One program that has gained popularity in North America is "Look Good Feel Better". A free national service program, it helps women living with cancer learn techniques for coping with the appearance-related side effects of cancer and cancer treatments. By providing women with the support they need to put their "best face forward", they help them regain a sense of self-confidence and control over their lives.

Women say the program empowers them by boosting self-esteem, combating depression, and providing a sense of control.

"Look Good, Feel Better" workshops are held in community centers, medical centers and other facilities. Women are introduced to a 12-step beauty regime that includes skin care, makeup, hairstyling and nail care. Demonstrations of the use of wigs, hats, turbans and scarf tying techniques are included. At the end of the workshop, women are provided with a "starter kit" of free products to begin trying out the new approaches to beauty in their own homes.

The workshops are offered free of charge to women with cancer.

Cancer survivor Armi Grano of Vancouver describes the positive result of the workshop in her life, "When you wake up in the morning and you look at yourself in the mirror, you see this person that looks like you… but just a little paler, with a puffier face and larger bags under her eyes, with less or no hair. It's important to learn cosmetic tips to cope with the side effects of cancer treatment. If you like what you see in the mirror, then you feel better already."

More than any other aspect of these programs, women say they find the greatest comfort in realizing they are not alone. Meeting other women who have overcome similar challenges is encouraging and empowering.

Look Good Feel Good Contact Information:

United States:
Toll-free telephone: 1-800-395-LOOK
Website: www.lookgoodfeelbetter.org

Canada:
Toll-free telephone: 1-800-914-5665
Website: www.lookgoodfeelbetter.ca


 
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