But for those who have been affected by appearance-related side effects of cancer, the “Look Good, Feel Better” program is providing hope.
Founded in 1989 by the Cosmetic, Toiletry and Fragrance Association (CTFA), it actually began with one patient.
That woman, according to doctors, was being treated for cancer and became so depressed and self-conscious about the way she looked, she would not venture outside her hotel room.
Her doctor contacted officials with the CTFA to get this woman a “makeover,” using cosmetics and a make-up artist.
The make-over not only transformed her look on the outside, but also the way she viewed life from the inside. Doctors said she immediately felt happier, laughing for the first time in weeks.
Soon the nation’s cosmetic industry leaders joined forces with the CTFA to donate cosmetics for women to use, and the program was born.
Today, “Look Good, Feel Better” programs are held in every state, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico with products donated by 40 CTFA member companies.
“We want women to feel beautiful and confident,” Wheeling Hospital Women’s Health Center Coordinator Sue Steinman said.
“We want them to know that the person they have always been is still there.”
Several years ago, the hospital adopted the national program to aid women in any stage of cancer treatment or recovery.
Now, when women first take part in the program, they receive a cosmetic packet with donated products from various cosmetic companies.
Everything from foundation, to lipstick, to eyeliner and even wigs are provided, and cosmeticians also are on hand to show the women how to properly apply the products. Hairdressers also are available.
“Basically, everything we give them is geared to their needs, whether they have a light, medium or dark complexion,” Steinman said. “We show them how to use wigs, and how to pick out a wig that is right for them. We also show them how to wear a turbin and what the latest styles are.”
For women who have had a lumpectomy or mastectomy, the program provides information on options for them as well.
“Whether they want to be fitted for a prosthesis or are seeking reconstructive surgery, we have people on hand that can help them,” Steinman said.
Like many of the programs offered at hospitals and health facilities across the nation, The Women’s Health Center at Wheeling Hospital has “Look Good, Feel Better” group meetings every other month.
Steinman said the meetings are open to any woman, no matter what kind of cancer they have.
“It’s not geared to any specific type of cancer,” she said. “It’s open to any woman, no matter what the stage of their cancer, treatment or recovery might be.”
She added that the program doesn’t just help women feel better about the way they look, it also helps them feel better about the way they look at life, providing hope and happiness.
“There is life after cancer,” she said. “There is a light at the end of the tunnel. (With this program) we laugh, we cry, we share. It’s a camaraderie. You get together with women who are going through the same thing you are.”
But, perhaps the most fulfilling aspect of this program follows the make-overs and sharing.
“They all leave with smiles on their faces,” Steinman said.
The national “Look Good, Feel Better” program
provides female cancer patients with packets
containing various cosmetic products. It also helps them in being fitted for breast prosthetics, provides
information, and helps in choosing a wig that is right for them. -Photo by Annie DeGenova