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
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
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
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
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
Toll-free telephone: 1-800-395-LOOK
Toll-free telephone: 1-800-914-5665