Helping breast cancer patients feel beautiful
From hair loss to skin changes, the physical adjustments that women undergo during breast cancer treatment can challenge their sense of identity and self-esteem.
After losing their hair, eyelashes and eyebrows, women often don’t recognize themselves in the mirror.
In order to empower and strengthen a patient’s confidence during chemotherapy or after radiation, a nationwide collaboration of the Personal Care Products Council Foundation, the American Cancer Society, and the Professional Beauty Association was established more than 25 years ago to provide women with a supportive environment that improves both their physical appearance and emotional well-being.
Look Good Feel Better (LGFB) is a two-hour group workshop that offers lessons in makeup and skin care, along with helpful tips on how to disguise hair loss using wigs, scarves and other accessories. The program is for women actively going through treatment for any kind of cancer, not just breast cancer.
Patrice Stephens, an advanced practice nurse and breast health navigator at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, Ill., says the LGFB program gives women a sense of control and normalcy during a very emotional and uncertain time in their life.
“Many cancer patients feel that they have no control over what is happening to their body, but this program allows them to take control of their appearance,” she adds. “And a small amount of makeup can make a world of difference. When these women learn how to fill in their eyebrows or recreate the appearance of eyelashes, they begin to look and feel more like themselves and leave with a new energy.”
Stephens believes that women who are more comfortable with their appearance can focus more on getting better and maintaining a positive attitude throughout treatment.
Equally as important as the beauty tips, cancer patients are able to spend time in a relaxed setting with others who are in the same or a similar situation.
“The program offers comfort and camaraderie, which helps alleviate the feeling of isolation that is common among cancer patients,” says Kelly Perez, manager of Mission Delivery with the American Cancer Society.
50,000 women a year benefit from the Look Good Feel Better program, and each patient receives a free kit of cosmetics to use during the workshop and take home.
About the Author
Julie Nakis, health enews contributor, is manager of public affairs at Advocate Children's Hospital. She earned her BA in communications from the University of Iowa – Go Hawkeyes! In her free time, she enjoys spending time with friends and family, exploring the city and cheering on the Chicago Cubs and Blackhawks.