The Look Good Feel Better Blog
I heard about the Look Good Feel Better (LGFB) program from my social worker Donna. I had already began chemo and was bald. She thought I would enjoy meeting fellow sisters in all different stages of cancer.
What I took away from the program is that you can still be beautiful while going through cancer . Not only did I love the goody bags but I learned to wear scarves and try on some fabulous wigs.
My favorite part of the LGFB was meeting the survivors, newly diagnosed and the ones going through treatment such as myself in 2012. It gave me hope and inspired me to continue the fight.
The LGFB information that was helpful for me was in my goody bag. The booklet that helps you remember what you learned in the class. How to ties the scarves and draw your missing eyebrows. What I learned from my cancer journey is you have to keep a sense of humor. Being bald is temporary. Your hair and eyelashes will grow back.
My family thought I looked AMAZING ! I felt fantastic . I felt like a movie star and for a day I looked like one too. If you happen to have to go down this journey , I strongly recommend the LGFB program. It will change your life for the better. It did mine.
The Look Good Feel Better (LGFB) Argentina program would like to congratulate and thank our colleagues and role models from LGFB U.S. on their 25th anniversary and wish them continued fruitful work and sustained growth.
In 1999 , Mrs Carolyn Deaver, CTFA Vice-president, visited our country bringing the LGFB seed to CAPA, Argentine Chamber of Cosmetics and Perfume Industry. That seed germinated and the following year, in March 2000 , “ Look Good Feel Better Argentina ” was born. In the beginning we had 2 workshops per month at the CAPA offices and a goal to reach 200 beneficiaries that year. Thus, Argentina became the first Latin American country to carry out the program thanks to the commitment and support of CAPA members.
Today we can proudly say we have reached over 1400 beneficiaries in 2013, thanks to more than 60 volunteers and about 19,000 products donated by member companies. LGFB Argentina has conducted over 110 workshops throughout the city of Buenos Aires and 10 other states throughout our country at our CAPA´s offices as well as in other public and private institutions and other NGOs.
We hope the U.S. and Argentine programs continue to spread the caring spirit of helping the many women coping with cancer and its treatments, reinforcing their confidence and self-esteem.
I first learned about the Look Good Feel Better (LGFB) program while I was about a third of the way through my six-month chemotherapy treatment for Stage 2 breast cancer. A very dear friend of mine who’s mother had been through cancer a year before me recommended this wonderful program.. It came at an opportune time for me because I had just lost all my eyebrows and eyelashes. I was not feeling very good about my appearance and was very insecure to be seen in public.
I was a little apprehensive at first to go to this LGFB workshop because I was uncomfortable going out in public because of my appearance. My bald head and missing eyelashes and eyebrows announced to everyone that I was a cancer patient. So I gathered my courage, grabbed my sister to come along with me for emotional support, and arrived at the workshop to join 10 other patients. I didn’t know what to expect, but I immediately saw that the others looked very similar in appearance to me.
The quiet room was uncomfortable at first, and some of the patients were very down and angered by their present situation. However, it was like Christmas as we opened up our individual makeup bags and unwrapped the donated products to begin the workshop. There were compliments flying around, and giggling and before we knew it, a comradely had developed amongst everyone in the room. After spending a couple of hours with other cancer patients who understood exactly what I was going through, everything changed. We could relate to each other and I felt that for the first time, I had understanding companionship on my cancer journey.. It was so much fun seeing the beautiful transformation of everyone. I loved how the spirit of the session changed over the two hour period - it went from quiet and somewhat gloomy to uplifting, encouraging and joyful.
The volunteers who directed the session were very caring and knowledgeable. They truly cared about us. They made us laugh. They made us feel beautiful by teaching us how to use make up to help us deal with our appearance related issues. The greatest issue I had to deal with was the loss of my eyebrows and eyelashes. When I looked in the mirror I didn’t recognize myself. It was really scary and made me feel very insecure. The beauty professionals showed us how to use eyeliner so it looked as if we had eyelashes. What a lifesaver this illusion was for me! It made me look more like myself again. I learned how to draw on eyebrows so that when someone looked at me, they could actually focus on my eyes and not look right past me.
I also enjoyed learning how to tie head scarves and I loved the T-shirt wrap. What a comfortable, inexpensive way to make a head covering. We also tried on beautiful wigs and that lifted our spirits. I learned that when I looked beautiful on the outside I felt beautiful on the inside.
My little sister was such a support to me. She was full of compliments and helped me feel better about myself through the whole session. The ironic thing about this is that two years later the roles were reversed for us. I became the support and caretaker for this same little sister as she attended a Look Good Feel Better session when she was diagnosed with breast cancer.
Inspired by the committed and uplifting work of Look Good Feel Better in the United States, in 1992 the Canadian Cosmetic Toiletry and Fragrance Association (CCTFA) pledged to support women with cancer by establishing the CCTFA Foundation to deliver the Look Good Feel Better program.
Each year we offer more than 1,450 cosmetic and hair alternative workshops at over 100 cancer care facilities and hospitals from coast-to-coast. Its here that our 1,950 industry trained volunteers passionately dedicate their time and expertise by teaching workshop participants how they can take charge by learning how to best manage the appearance related challenges of cancer and its treatment.
None of this would be possible without the ongoing support from the members companies of the CCTFA and other caring organizations, sponsors and donors. Its only with their help that we have had the honour and privilege of providing hands-on support to over 160,000 Canadian women, helping them look good and feel better about themselves during cancer treatment.
Our Canadian program has helped hundreds of thousands more women through our Signature services including tutorial videos and the Lives Affected by Cancer magazine, both posted on lookgoodfeelbetter.ca. We also print and distribute one million copies of this informative publication that addresses a host of uplifting topics and information to support women on their lifelong cancer journey.
FacingCancer.ca was established as an on-line companion program to Look Good Feel Better in an effort to further meet the emotional and social needs of women with cancer. This caring community offers a safe and supportive place where women and those who love and support them can share their experiences and offer support about ‘everything else’ that’s going on as a result of a cancer diagnosis.
On behalf of the CCTFA Foundation and our many partners and supporters, we congratulate and wish Look Good Feel Better USA a wonderful anniversary as you celebrate 25 years helping women face cancer with hope and confidence.
Eivind Bjerke – 25-year volunteer
I had a beautiful young woman on my staff about 28 years ago. She was diagnosed with stomach cancer and was sent to NIH for treatment. She was told that she needed to start treatment at once, or she would not live for another year.
A short time later, I heard that Look Good Feel Better was looking for cosmetologists (back then hairdressers). In 1988, I signed up and was asked to do the first pilot Look Good Feel Better program at Lombardi Cancer Center at Georgetown Hospital. In that early pilot period, The Personal Care Products Council Foundation, formerly the CTFA Foundation, sent me several times to New York and other places to help demonstrate the program to Council member companies representing the cosmetic industry and help them understand the impact of Look Good Feel Better for women with cancer.
Prior to becoming a volunteer, I had worked with clients over the years that had cancer and would lose their hair. My knees would buckle when I was doing their hair, and the hair would come out in my brush or comb. I felt terrible and did not know what to say or do for these clients when that happened. Back then, cancer patients had surgery and treatment for the cancer and were left to deal on their own with their hair loss and appearance issues and concerns.
Then along came LGFB and the whole world changed. Oncologists and other oncology health care providers found out the need and importance for their patients to look their best after surgery and hair loss due to chemotherapy.
I have thought long and hard about the one word to best describe the Look Good Feel Better program. It’s hard to think of just one word, but here are a few that come to mind: lifeline, healing, rewarding, therapeutic, comforting, beneficial, love, and fun.
When I volunteer for the Look Good Feel Better program I feel like, in a small way, maybe I helped to save someone’s life.
By: SJ Robertson
Firstly I would like to congratulate Look Good Feel Better U.S. for reaching their milestone year; 25 years of helping women with cancer is a fantastic achievement. You have lead the way and helped the program to expand into 26 countries worldwide, supporting 1.4 million people.
The UK were the fifth country to launch the Look Good Feel Better program and our first Workshop was held at the Cancerkin centre at the Royal Free Hospital, London, followed by The Royal Marsden in Sutton and the Christie Hospital in Manchester.
As we celebrate our 20th Anniversary year we are pleased to say that we now hold Workshops in 73 hospital locations right across the UK – from the tip of Scotland to Northern Ireland and right down to the Channel Islands! – And we have supported over 100,000 women and teenagers to date.
In 2012 LGFB UK undertook a research project involving 2,000 beneficiaries, to assess the key benefits of our services. A highlight of the results, was that 98% of women felt more confident following their LGFB Workshop and confidence levels were still a 96% 3-4 months later.
LGFB UK is supported by over 35 member companies and brands from the beauty and perfumery industry along with key retail, media and other major partner organisations.
Last year we launched our new Masterclasses, which will help us reach an additional 2,000 women this year – taking our reach to 4,000 per annum.
This June, as part of our 20th Anniversary celebrations, we will launch Look Good Feel Better – On the Move! - a mobile information unit that will enable us to raise awareness throughout the summer, across the whole of the UK.
By: Maya Zahran
When the Look Good Feel Better program first launched in the United States, no one could have predicted the program would thrive and develop into an internationally recognized cancer care program for well over two decades.
From all of us at the Cancer Patients Foundation and the Look Good Feel Better program in Australia we would like to congratulate our US affiliate on reaching an incredible milestone: twenty-five years of exemplary care for those undergoing treatment for cancer. Thank you for paving the way for an internationally recognized cancer support charity.
By 1990, Australia was just the second country to introduce the Look Good Feel Better program to the health and cosmetic industries. Today, we proudly recognize that more than 110,000 people have attended a LGFB workshop in Australia. Last year we helped 10,000 cancer patients deal with the physical side-effects of cancer treatment and the plan is to increase our capacity in the years to come.
The Australian LGFB program has shifted and evolved to provide a service of excellence in 180 locations across the country including in cancer care centers, hospitals and local community venues. We offer workshops for women, men and teens thanks to our army of 1,500 volunteers nationwide. Our newest service – the Home-Delivered Confidence Kit aims to address the needs of patients who for health or travel reasons are unable to attend a workshop.
The program has been heavily supported by the cosmetic industry who donated more than $2.5 million worth of product to the program last year. Our success is also growing with other fruitful corporate partnerships – including that of P&G’s Pantene Beautiful Lengths campaign which sees real hair ponytails being transformed into real-hair wigs to be distributed to LGFB patient’s free-of-charge.
LGFB Australia is committed to the social arena by being present on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube – and encourages workshop participants, cosmetic industry volunteers and health professionals to use these platforms to engage with one another in support.
We look forward to continue strengthening our mission alongside our international partners to help cancer patients face cancer with confidence.
This year, Look Good Feel Better is celebrating its 25th Anniversary, and in celebration of this milestone we have been reflecting on what makes our program a success. Look Good Feel Better simply wouldn’t be possible without the hard work and dedication of our volunteers all over the United States. Throughout the year, we will be highlighting some of the volunteers that have worked with Look Good Feel Better from the beginning, and we are proud to have Linda Whitehurst as our first featured volunteer.
Linda has been a Look Good Feel Better volunteer for 25 years, and has served in a number of volunteer roles, including workshop facilitator, state coordinator, area trainer and national trainer. She is the owner of the Parasol Hair Studio in Charlotte, North Carolina, and has been working as a licensed beauty professional for over 35 years, Linda is also a member of the Professional Beauty Association (PBA), a national organization with members that include salons, spas, distributors, manufacturers and more than 25,000 beauty professionals. She is the PBA LGFB national project director and represents the volunteer perspective among the national operations staff from PBA, PCPCF, and ACS.
I first heard about the Look Good Feel Better (LGFB) program at the 1989 National Cosmetology Association Show in California, shortly after LGFB was launched. There was an article in American Salon that provided information about the opportunities for cosmetologists to become part of this amazing program, helping women with cancer by demonstrating how to camouflage appearance-related side effects of cancer treatment, using skin care and makeup products donated by the cosmetic industry, and helping them to use wigs, hats, and scarf-tying techniques to deal with hair loss. My heartstrings said, “You have to be part of this program! I signed up, was certified in 1990, and have been involved since then. I now regularly volunteer once a month at Levine Cancer Center in Charlotte, North Carolina, andI also fill in at Buddy Kemp Support Center at Presbyterian Hospital as needed. Soon I will also be volunteering at Mission Hospital in Asheville, North Carolina.
After working with the program for nearly 25 years, one word stands out when describing LGFB: confidence. I see women over and over come into workshops timid, not at all sure they want to be there, and after the two hours are over, the confidence and self-esteem they have gained gives them a radiant glow. I always remember this one patient that came to an LGFB workshop before taking a trip to the islands with her family. When she returned she brought me a poem she wrote about losing her brows to the ocean, but thanks to LGFB she had the skills to put them back so no one noticed.
Stories like this are why I volunteer. It is so gratifying and keeps my life in perspective, reminding me of what is really important. We all need to find our passion to “give back,“ and LGFB is a program that makes me feel I am making a difference on many levels, but, the most important is every woman I touch in my patient workshops.
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!).
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.
Today we bring you the fourth and final installment from our guest blogger Jane Wilkens Michael, host of the Jane Wilkens Michael Show…Better Than Before.
For my fourth and final contribution to this wonderful site for this particular series of posts, I wanted to share advice that I hope will inspire readers to look and feel Better Than Before forever more. I am happy to report that I am about to start working on my new book on this very subject. And as I mentioned in an earlier post, my Better Than Before program actually began with cancer survivors. I was personally motivated by a doctor from Memorial Sloan- Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) in New York City, the world’s preeminent cancer hospital, who I interviewed very early on in my research. (Note: The Look Good Feel Better program is offered at this hospital.)
In referring to trying to ensure that patients enjoyed a satisfying quality of life long after their protocol was completed, he told me, “Doctors cannot do it alone, and too often patients cannot do it either—it must be a team effort. We don’t just save lives – we want to change them, as well. Once their treatments are finished, it is up to the survivors themselves to take over.” But, as we all know, it takes a lot more than just eating kale, walking around the block and thinking happy thoughts to be a thriving survivor.
Recently, I had the opportunity to receive an advanced copy of a new book from Spry Publishing. Survivorship, Living Well During and After Cancer Survivorship (available for sale April 1, 2014) by a distinguished author, Dr. Barrie Cassileth, PhD, Laurance S. Rockefeller Chair and Chief of the Integrative Medicine department at MSKCC. Conventional therapies such as chemotherapy and radiation treat the tumor, but adjunctive complementary (integrative) therapies such as acupuncture, massage, meditation, guided imagery and self-hypnosis, and yoga, deal with the physical and emotional symptoms.
Dr. Cassileth stresses, though, that bogus “alternative” treatments must be separated from “complementary” therapies which are evidence-based and used to control symptoms and enhance well-being, but never instead of conventional treatment. That being said, here are four tried and true modalities that she mentions in her book, along with her comments:
1) Food: “What you eat matters. It’s a simple, perhaps obvious fact, but one that is too frequently overlooked.” The doctor suggests that survivors continue to focus on maintaining a healthy weight by choosing a diet comprised of fruits and vegetables, lean protein, whole grains, and low-fat foods, including dairy. “Replacing carbohydrates and animal fat with vegetables is a smart move as it improves survival in patients with cancer.”
2) Activity: “A flood of recent studies shows that cancer patients who are more physically active tend to live longer after their diagnosis and are at decreased risk of the cancer coming back.” She suggests combining yoga with aerobic exercise and resistance training in order to achieve the greatest benefits for both mind and body.
3) Acupuncture: “Research demonstrates that acupuncture can safely and significantly reduce physical and emotional symptoms associated with cancer and its treatment.” And while it does not treat the cancer itself, it does help to reduce pain, anxiety, and depression, as well as chemotherapy-related and postoperative nausea and vomiting, hot flashes, xerostomia (extreme dry mouth), chronic fatigue, lymphedema, and peripheral neuropathy (nerve-related tingling or lack of feeling in hands or feet).
4) Mind-Body Medicine: “The tools of mind-body medicine, such as meditation, guided imagery, and biofeedback, can reduce stress, depression, anxiety, and other negative thoughts and feelings. In so doing, they can help to prevent serious illnesses from worsening, or at least help you through the disease with as little mental and physical wear and tear as possible. Through practice and discipline, mind-body approaches also increase your ability to manage stress.”
So until we meet again, I leave you with this thought: Being Better Than Before doesn’t mean that we have to change the world. All we need to do is direct a little more positive energy toward improving our lives and our universe today than we did yesterday – in other words, to slowly become Better Than Before!