Helping women with cancer look good, feel better
By Ed Karvoski Jr., Contributing Writer
Marlborough – A potentially stressful time for some women became more comfortable when Look Good Feel Better was offered Jan. 20 at the Marlborough Regional Chamber of Commerce (MRCC). Facilitating the free workshop was Michele Dilley of Marlborough, who works out of the Northborough office of the American Cancer Society (ACS). This is one of several ACS programs she oversees statewide.
“Women with cancer go through so many changes,” she noted. “This is one opportunity to empower themselves – to make these changes to their skin, apply makeup, and learn how to deal with not having hair. Many of the women will lose their hair, their eyebrows and their eyelashes. The cosmetologist gives them hope and tips on how they can correct those absences during their treatment.”
While the workshop is conducted at hospitals in Worcester, Dilley is trying to also make it available locally.
“I really want to bring the program to other communities, especially now in Marlborough where there's a new cancer center that just opened at the hospital,” she said. “People want to be treated in their communities and they want to stay here.”
Marlborough resident Pauline Smith, a cancer survivor and retired cosmetologist, volunteered to help coordinate the MRCC as its host site.
“I depend on a lot of volunteers to make this happen,” Dilley said.
Volunteering to teach the women hands-on cosmetic techniques was Northborough resident Shami, a licensed aesthetician. Assisting her was Sheryl May of Worcester, a cancer survivor who had participated in the program and is now volunteering.
“Sheryl got so much out of the program herself that she wanted to share with other women now that she's well,” Dilley said. “That's usually what happens. We get cancer survivors or caregivers who want to use their expertise and give back to help others.”
Each participant received a free makeup kit. Dilley noted that most women leave with more than makeup supplies and a new skill.
“I see women connect,” she said. “One time when we did the program, it was real slow to start. And then one woman broke the ice and made the program what it should be. By the end of it, they were all exchanging their phone numbers and became their own mini-support group. That's what this program is all about. It's being supportive and having hope that they can get through this in a positive way.”
The program is offered through a partnership of the ACS, the Personal Care Products Council Foundation and the National Cosmetology Association. Volunteers are certified and trained by the ACS to lead the workshops, which are non-medical and don's promote a product line.
Look Good Feel Better will return to Marlborough in March. For more information, call 1-800-227-2345 or visit lookgoodfeelbetter.org.
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