The cosmetic industry has always been dedicated to improving quality of life — especially for women. In the late eighties, however, the industry was faced with an opportunity to give back to its consumers and society in a way no other industry could. Ed Kavanaugh, former president of the Personal Care Products Council , was asked by a doctor to provide a makeover for one of his patients. The young woman was undergoing cancer treatment, and because of the physical side effects, had started showing signs of depression. She was very down and even refused to leave her hospital room. Kavanaugh obliged, providing cosmetics and a makeup artist, and the transformation was fantastic. The young woman became very animated, and laughed for the first time since beginning treatment. Follow-up reports from the doctor informed Kavanaugh that the patient continued with her treatment with an entirely new outlook.
This event sparked an idea to create a program to provide women with tools to help them cope with the appearance-related side effects of cancer treatment, and to re-build their self-esteem so they can face their treatment with added confidence.
Kavanaugh presented the idea to leaders in the cosmetic industry, who agreed to provide funding and to donate cosmetics for use in the group makeover sessions. The American Cancer Society (ACS) was the second collaborator, providing a vital, national network for cancer patients seeking information and access to the program. Finally, the National Cosmetology Association (NCA) agreed to become the third collaborator, encouraging cosmetologists to volunteer their services to the program. With that, the premise of the program, Look Good Feel Better, became the official name.
In 1989, Look Good Feel Better began in two locations — Memorial Sloan-Kettering in New York, and Georgetown University's Lombardi Cancer Center in Washington, D.C. Today, Look Good Feel Better is in every state, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia. Programs are also found in Australia, Argentina, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Israel, Italy, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Singapore, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. All international programs are operated independently of the U.S. program but share common goals.
Look Good Feel Better for Teens® is a free public service program for adolescents, 13 to 17, that provides information dealing with the appearance and sociological side effects related to cancer and its treatment. Originally launched in 1996, the program is now available at select locations throughout the United States. Materials have been created exclusively for teenagers, and all program leaders receive specialized training to address physical, social and psychological issues relevant to adolescents. A new Web site, www.2bMe.org, was developed in 2001 as an additional resource for teens with cancer. The site addresses appearance-related issues, health matters and concerns about peer relationships.
Look Good Feel Better for MenSM was developed in 2003 as a “self-help” piece that contains a wealth of information for men who are undergoing chemotherapy or radiation treatment. The brochure contains information on how to deal with the appearance-related side effects of their treatment, as well as other information that will be useful to them during this challenging time. This piece is available through the American Cancer Society, by calling 800-395-LOOK, as well as from select cancer support centers nationwide.
"We are very proud of how the program has grown over the past decade," says Kavanaugh today. It is our goal to expand the program so that every person with cancer can benefit from it.
Since its inception, Look Good Feel Better has served 800,000 women, and the cosmetic industry has donated more than $113 million in product and financial support. The program has become the second most requested program offered by the American Cancer Society. With the implementation of the Spanish-language program, Luzca Bien...Sientase Mejor, and Look Good Feel Better for Teens, the program now serves women in the Hispanic community and teens with cancer.
For more information about the program or to locate a session near you, call 800-395-LOOK, contact the American Cancer Society or visit the Look Good Feel Better Web site, www.lookgoodfeelbetter.org.