The Look Good ... Feel Better program is a community-based, free, national service thatteaches female cancer patients beauty techniques to help restore their appearance and self-image during chemotherapy and radiation treatments.
Cathy Blackstone remembers the local woman undergoing chemotherapy crying while her husband held her. "You look so beautiful," the man told his wife.
The woman was battling cancer and during treatment had lost her hair, including her eyebrows. Her skin had changed. And she just didn't look like her old self.
Look Good ... Feel Better helped this cancer patient feel beautiful for the first time in months, said Blackstone, an American Cancer Society Ohio Division state board member.
The program-a collaborative effort between the American Cancer Society, the Personal Care Products Council Foundation and the National Cosmetology Association-has helped more than 550,000 women since 1989 and has grown to assist more than 50,000 cancer patientsannually.
Each two-hour, hands-on Look Good ... Feel Better workshop includes a 12-step skin care and make-up applicationlesson, demonstration of options for dealing with hair loss, and nail care techniques.
Held at comprehensive care clinics, hospitals, ACS offices, and community centers, local group programs are organized by the American Cancer Society, facilitated by certified cosmetologists and aided by generalvolunteers.
Patients in various stages of treatment receive make-over tips and personal attention from professionals trained to meet their needs. They also use and take home complementarycosmetic kits--valued from $250 to $300-in their appropriate skin tones (light, medium, dark, extra dark) with helpfulinstruction booklets. Professional advice is provided on wigs, scarves and accessories.
A survey called "Self Appearance" of women who were currently or had recently completed treatment for cancer, found that a majority, 69percent, of respondents reported that their appearance changed "somewhat" or "a lot" during treatment. And 83 percent were self conscious about their appearance during treatment. About half, 48 percent, sought help to improve their appearance during treatment.
"Women may be reserved at the start of class wondering what they are going to encounter," said ACS regional public relations director, Robert Paschen. "But they havethe assistance of a trainedcosmetologist and when they leave they feel camaraderie with the women there. Look Good ... Feel Better is hands-on and they are able to use what they learned immediately. They are able to feel better right now."
The American Cancer Society organizes the sessions and trains the participating cosmetologists in techniques designedspecifically for cancer patients.
"When you're going through cancer, everything changes," said Sarah Downs, American Cancer Society health promotions coordinator. "You lose your hair, your skin color changes. This program was designed with the belief that if you look good, you naturally feel better."
Blackstone said, "when our women come in (to a Look Good ... Feel Better session) they are treated special. They have a healthy snack andsomething to drink. We give them encouragement. Also, (current patients) talk toother women who've been through this, and they letthem know that all of this isnormal.
"I've had husbands come and tell me 'thank you, you've given me my wife back,' " Blackstone continued. "Another mangreeted his wife with a rose at the door after a class. These are things money can't buy and treatments can't buy, but that the program can accomplish. And it's free."
For more information about Look Good ... Feel Bettersessions in your community, please call the ACS Ohio Patient Services Center toll free at(888) 227-OHIO (6446).