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With Cancer, Could I Feel Better if I Look Good?

Can an American Cancer Society workshop help women with cancer look and feel better?
PUBLISHED December 22, 2016
Stephanie Hammonds is a survivor of ovarian cancer and was first diagnosed in 2009. She is involved with various cancer-related speaking engagements, including with the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance's Survivors Teaching Students Program®. She is a life-long artist, freelance writer, lover of Italian cooking, mom and grandmom.
I recently had the experience of going to an American Cancer Society-sponsored “Look Good Feel Better” workshop, which included a program on how to use makeup and skincare products to cope with the many side effects which cancer and its treatment seems to inflict on us. The workshop includes instruction and a free cosmetic kit with a useful assortment of items geared to your skin shade/ type.

So, let’s begin at the beginning. Going on the premise that we are ordinary women with average expectations, what can we actually get from attending one of these sessions? Will we go in looking OK and come out looking...glam? Is this a makeover clinic? We’ve all been through a lot with our health. Could a morning at a workshop help?

Speaking for myself, I am so impressed with these workshops in so many ways that I decided to write about it in case there is a woman who has experienced cancer treatment and isn’t sure if she should schedule a spot in one of these sessions. My advice is yes, please do take the time and do go.

The volunteer beauty professional I met led the “class” in a particularly knowledgeable, kind and generous way; she really understood the challenges of cancer, the illness and what it does to skin, hair, eyebrows, scalps, lashes and so forth. She spoke on various topics, including not only skin and cosmetics, but also wigs and scarf-wrapping for those who need head covering advice. She answered questions thoughtfully and patiently.

Like so many others who’ve been treated for cancer, I've been exposed to various medications and lost my hair, eyelashes and brows; my skin has become alternatively flushed or very pale, and I’ve looked tired, gaunt or washed-out. Dark circles have plagued me along with lack-luster coloring.

If any of this sounds familiar, it’s part of litany of personal complaints, but how much time and effort should I or could I afford to spend on fixing myself up, and was there an easier way to pull myself up by the bootstraps and try to look a little more enlivened, and maybe even (hopefully) possibly a bit.... healthier or, more like…myself?

PAGE BREAK As it turns out, a couple of hours spent at a Look Good Feel Better group program is totally time well- spent. A new shade of lipstick, a splash of blush, advice on how to cope with those tired eye circles, apply a little highlighter, fix missing brows or growing in mischief hair can really perk up a mood. Being with other women who face the same issues is a marvelous way to just be yourself, relax and enjoy the camaraderie! The cosmetic bag filled with super nice products was really like Christmas morning. There were lots of wonderful things to try, and with the expert instructor’s assistance there could be no wrong moves, only terrific outcomes. We didn’t have to go to Disneyland; we were Cinderellas...all of us.

Some may have arrived a bit reluctant, a little undecided, maybe a little skeptical. Things changed. I saw so much happiness in the participants at the close of the program; I couldn’t see anyone who wasn’t in an uplifted frame of mind. There were compliments all around, happiness, plenty of smiles and a few giggles echoing in the room. The stress of having cancer melted away...just a little...and it felt good.

It's a fabulous experience. When a workshop is offered in your area, please go. A little pampering goes a long way. Meeting others who are coping like yourself goes even further. You will feel so much better when you look good. Check out the American Cancer Society’s website for further details.
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