By Doris Christelis, Contributing Writer
Region – When most people think about the American Cancer Society (ACS), they see it as a fundraising organization. The ACS does fundraise, but in addition, they are a tremendous resource for families and caregivers dealing with a cancer diagnosis. In addition to a range of informative literature and services, they also have an array of programs available to cancer patients, including “Look Good Feel Better (LGFB).”
Cancer patients can often expect to lose hair, including eyebrows and lashes, and experience changes to their skin and nails.? The Look Good Feel Better campaign, run by the ACS in conjunction with the Personal Care Products Council Foundation and the National Cosmetology Association, is geared to women currently in cancer treatment who are, or will be, experiencing temporary changes in their appearance as a result of chemotherapy and/or radiation. The LGFB program offers instructions, tips, and advice on how to cope with these changes.
Last year in Massachusetts alone, more than 1,600 women participated in the program.
“Participants benefit from hands-on instruction on things that they may have little to no experience with, such as how to care for wigs, how to create eyebrows using stencils, or how to wrap a turban,” Michele Dilley, community executive for health initiatives with the ACS, explained.
“Ladies attending our workshops receive a complimentary bag filled with cosmetic products donated by participating Personal Care Products Council members.? We never endorse specific products, but we are grateful for the donations, which typically include name-brand items from such manufacturers as Clinique, Almay, Estee Lauder, Bobbi Brown, L”Oreal and Avon,” she added.
Groups of six to eight women are then led through a 12-step makeup application process that includes tips on everything from cleansing and moisturizing to mascara and lipstick. While not on the workshop agenda, one of the added benefits of attending is the camaraderie and friendships that develop between these newly diagnosed patients.
“Most women leave these sessions with at least one phone number of a new friend,” Dilley said.
Locally, the Northborough branch of the American Cancer Society works with local volunteer cosmetologists and aestheticians to run the workshops.
“We could not run this successful program if it were not for our volunteers,” Dilley noted.
Jill Gerry, of Clever Clippers in Townsend, is one of the dedicated volunteers who conducts workshops and also trains other professionals to conduct the LGFB workshops.
“Look Good Feel Better makes me feel good about helping others,” Gerry, who has volunteered for four years, said. “This program is a make-over for the spirit of these women who are going through so much.”
Since its inception in 1989, the program has served 800,000 women, and the cosmetic industry has donated more than $113 million in products and financial support. The program has become the second most requested program offered by the American Cancer Society.
Upcoming local workshops are:? Monday, March 11, at the ACS office, 44 Bearfoot Road, Suite 1C, Northborough; Monday, April 8, UMass Memorial Medical Center, 55 Lake Avenue North, Worcester; and Monday, April 8, and Monday, May 6, St. Vincent's Hospital/Worcester Medical Center, 123 Summer St., Worcester. For more information on Look Good Feel Better and to register for workshops, visit http://lookgoodfeelbetter.org/programs or call 1-800-227-2345.