Look Good Feel Better Helps Cancer Patients Reimagine Beauty

By Louanne Roark, Executive Director, Personal Care Products Council Foundation and Look Good Feel Better 

Twenty five years ago – in March of 1989 – Look Good Feel Better (LGFB) was introduced as a simple idea to leverage the expertise of the beauty industry to help women living with cancer who were struggling with morale-crushing, appearance side effects of treatment.  The concept was to offer education and expert beauty guidance from caring volunteers to help improve a woman’s changed appearance, self-esteem, and outlook, and give her the ability to approach her disease and treatment with greater confidence.

Today, the Institute of Medicine has underscored the importance of oncology professionals treating the whole patient – not only providing lifesaving medical treatment, but also offering appropriate interventions to reduce the psycho-social stressors related to cancer treatment.  Back in 1989, however, the psychological impact of cancer was just beginning to be examined and the concept of helping a woman cope with the distressing and sometimes alarming appearance side effects of cancer treatments – including changes in skin and nails, and hair loss that often leave patients unable to recognize the person looking back at them in the mirror – were largely unrecognized, leaving women to fend for themselves to find solutions. 

All of that changed with the introduction of Look Good Feel Better following pilot programs in New York City and Washington, D.C.  The program has since grown into a thriving and highly successful domestic and global cancer support program reaching nearly 900,000 women in the U.S. and nearly 1.5 million women in 26 countries around the world.

Through the years, Look Good Feel Better has expanded its reach and audiences with the addition of a Spanish-language program for women (Lucza Bien Siéntase Mejor) ; a program serving teenagers with cancer (Look Good Feel Better for Teens); and educational resources for men with cancer (Look Good Feel Better for Men).  We also offer At-Home materials for patients who cannot attend a group workshop, and Virtual Workshops were introduced in 2011 to give women the live, interactive, group workshop experience in the comfort of their homes.

More recently, a new styling component was developed with celebrity stylist Stacy London and introduced to LGFB volunteers and patient workshops late last year.  In 2013 we also introduced a new, mobile optimized LGFB Virtual Makeover Tool available on our  web site http://lookgoodfeelbetter.org/beauty-guide/virtual-makeover-tool and the free LGFB Beauty iPhone App to help reach women with LGFB information and support whenever they need us, and wherever they find themselves (such as in the chemo infusion clinic!).  

You can also now find Look Good Feel Better on Facebook, www.facebook.com/lookgoodfeelbetter and Twitter, www.twitter.com/lgfb and our many videos on YouTube, www.youtube.com/lookgoodfeelbetter.

This anniversary tribute is not complete without acknowledging and thanking the many cosmetic industry companies who have supported the Personal Care Products Council Foundation’s (PCPCF) LGFB efforts over the years with financial contributions, product donations and in-kind expertise and support.  The caring and generosity of the industry is apparent in the $12 million worth of product they donate to the program each year, and in the $42 million they have raised over the years for the DreamBall (which provides financial support to LGFB), and in the invaluable management and marketing expertise and consulting they have offered.  Impressively,  the original 25 companies who believed in LGFB enough to provide the seed money to initiate the program’s development in 1988 are still supporters today.

Our anniversary celebration is also not complete without acknowledging and thanking the American Cancer Society and the Professional Beauty Association, the PCPCF’s national collaborators who also demonstrated their belief in the LGFB concept when they joined forces with us in 1989 to provide their expertise and grassroots resources to help deliver the program.  The ACS and their mission delivery staff across the country, and the PBA’s thousands of  beauty professionals who have stepped forward to volunteer for the program have made enormous contributions to the growth and success of LGFB.   They are the foot soldiers in our battle to help women find normalcy and their own personal beauty during the most trying of moments.

To the PCPCF’s 25 global affiliates offering LGFB around the world, we salute you and your dedication to helping women with cancer to find the hope and courage to reimagine beauty.  Your passion and commitment are remarkable, and through our combined resources, we collectively have the honor of offering an extraordinary global cancer support program second to none. 

 As we look to the future, our challenge is to continue to grow the LGFB program to help the more than 800,000 U.S. women who will be diagnosed with cancer this year alone.  Our goal is to find new and creative ways to reach the many women who can benefit and draw strength from our services and support.

 We invite you to join us in this anniversary year to find YOUR unique way to Reimagine Beauty and support Look Good Feel Better.   Look Good Feel Better illuminates the power of beauty to help a woman with cancer re-define herself and how the world sees her.  You can help share that power.  Every referral, every partnership, every conversation, and every donation helps us reach women with cancer. 

On behalf of those women, join us to Reimagine Beauty.