The Look Good Feel Better Blog
The next volunteer featured in our National Volunteer Week blog series is Victoria Littlefield, a Look Good Feel Better volunteer from Pittston, Maine, who has been recognized with the 2015 Look Good Feel Better National Sunrise Award in the LGFB Certified Volunteer category.
Victoria Littlefield has been a volunteer with the Look Good Feel Better program for more than 26 years, a testament to her long-term dedication and selfless commitment to helping people suffering with cancer. As a volunteer area trainer, she has been a committed, passionate volunteer and leader. She helps organize and facilitate Look Good Feel Better certification training sessions for new volunteers and group patient workshops. Victoria surpasses the expectations of her duties as Area Trainer, recently joining the local Chamber of Commerce to promote greater awareness of Look Good Feel Better and increasing her networking opportunities with the hope of expanding the program in the future.
We asked Victoria a few questions about her experience with Look Good Feel Better, and here is what she had to say:
Q: What brought you to Look Good Feel Better?
I was first approached by a client of mine who is an oncology nurse, and still actually works with the program today. She asked me if I would be interested in working with a program that was starting up called Look Good Feel Better. I had always been involved in the community, so I immediately knew this would be something I wanted to do. I quickly realized how phenomenal the program is, and have been doing it ever since.
Q: What has been your most memorable moment with Look Good Feel Better, and why?
It’s so hard to pick my most memorable moment with Look Good Feel Better after volunteering for 26 years and receiving 100s of cards from thankful participants. One of the more recent moments that stands out to me occurred with a younger woman in my class – she was in her 30s. She was having trouble coping with cancer at such a young age, particularly with losing her hair and the changes occurring to her skin. She expressed to me that she even felt uncomfortable around her husband. By the time she was done with the program, and tried on a wig, her disposition had transformed. She said the class went so well for her, and that the wig looked better than her real hair!
She told me, “They say there are angels around us and that we might see an angel one day, but I never thought I would be blessed to look at one in real life. It just makes such a difference to be able to go through the worst point in my life, look in the mirror, and be able to say that I look great. Thank you so much for all you do.”
Q: What is your favorite section of the program? Is there a particular reason?
I am an oncology esthetician, so my specialty really has to do with the skin. That being said, I love the whole program, which is the complete package. I like the comradery that exists between the participants in the class. When they first walk in the room and look at each other, they are all slightly uncomfortable as I try to make them feel welcome. By the end of the program, they’re talking about their life, children, work, and everything in between. All the women have the same common denominator, but during the class they get to focus on themselves. I love the joy of being able to participate with these women who have become a family to me, which is what it’s all about.
Q: Why do you continue to volunteer with Look Good Feel Better, or why would you recommend it to others?
For me it’s the ability to give back. It has been an honor to help when these women are trying hard to keep it all together and like what they see in the mirror. People have thanked me for what I do and what I do with my time so many times. I have received 100s of cards over the years where they all say thanks so much, I say thank you for letting me be a part of your journey!
If you have a talent and the time, you receive a lot more in return by giving back to others. It has been a privilege to work with these people and help make a difference in their lives.
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!
Today we bring you the third installment from our guest blogger Jane Wilkens Michael, host of the Jane Wilkens Michael Show…Better Than Before.
During this holiday season many years ago I discovered my mission – my passion – in life. I found that in helping others to become Better Than Before, I might truly make a difference. And for my family, friends, readers and CBS radio audience, it is the gift that has kept on giving. I am continually inspired whenever they thank me for guiding them, either in person, print or on the air, onward and upward on the Ladder to a Better Quality of life, as part of their journey to looking and feeling Better Than Before.
I find it particularly encouraging, though, when the cancer survivors among them tell me how they are now able to view themselves in a new light, even after all they have endured. “Physically, emotionally and spiritually I may have been through the ringer,” one breast cancer survivor recently shared with me. “But I truly surprised myself that I emerged on the other side a much stronger person.” She told me that she now has a far greater appreciation for life and how simple acts of kindness can be so empowering. “I am also looking through a different lens now and I am grateful for that. Even my scars don’t have a negative connection anymore. They remind me of everything I’ve been through and I’m still here. I no longer focus on how sick and weak I was, but how strong I am now.”
It is important to remember that the road to a better quality of life is paved with the small decisions that we make each day. Lasting benefits rarely come from dramatic changes. Therefore, start by taking baby steps. And find a task that you know you are able to easily accomplish. Even the smallest action you can do to move forward creates the positive momentum that propels you up the Better Than Before ladder.
Think of the Japanese word Kaizen. It is actually made up of two words, “kai” meaning change, and ‘zen’ to make good or make better. Therefore, we should make an effort to continuously improve each day through tiny, incremental changes. Granted, depression, anxiety and stress are always hovering around. It’s how we handle those challenges, however, that makes us succeed — or succumb! Try to focus on what’s positive in your world and not dwell on what could go wrong. I found that most life-altering events, good or bad, can help us progress on the path to where we want to go. So even if they are not what we expected, it’s important to learn from them and become a stronger person because of them. No matter what we are dealt in life, we can find a way to work through it. Never give up.
Start by simply visualizing a twelve- rung ladder. Then familiarize yourself with each of the Lifestyle Disciplines – in other words, the Rungs. Think of a quick tip for each that you have found helpful or would like to try. For example, was there a makeup suggestion from the Look Good Feel Better website? Or a recipe that you could slip into the Creative Rung? For the Healthy Home Rung, try reciting this mantra as soon as you wake up: Every day in every way I am feeling Better Than Before. For the Support Rung, saying “I love you”—whether to your spouse, a friend, your caregiver or your kids—is a bona fide mood lifter and stress reducer. And when you say “thank you,” you increase your optimism and boost your immune system.
So with the New Year rapidly approaching, remember to let go of all anger and resentment; and, most importantly, try to be kind to yourself – after all, you’re the only self you have! Finally, as you begin your climb, never forget three important life lessons: Love deeply, forgive quickly, and above all, try to become just a little Better Than Before.
We are so excited to share with you the lovely and heartfelt words of Anjanette below after she observed a workshop a few weeks ago in New York City. Anjanette is the Founder & CEO of SKY and LIVI a jewelry company that empowers women battling cancer by transforming their hair lost in chemo into their very own personal lab-grown diamond. SKY and LIVI has partnered with LGFB and will be donating $100 from the sale of every diamond, and $10 from every bracelet sold to the program in 2013.
Thank you Anjanette for everything you do for the program!
“Last week I had the amazing opportunity to be an observer at a LGFB Workshop at the Hope Lodge in NYC. To say that this experience was special is an understatement. I witnessed four strangers walk into a room with one thing in common - they all had cancer. They had varying personalities, in different stages of treatment and places emotionally, but all walked out of the workshop with another thing in common - HOPE…accented with a beautiful smile of course! Seeing each woman transform themselves before our eyes was magical. Elizabeth, my dear friend and Sarcoma survivor attended with me and we both were so moved to witness this moment. It was even more clear to me how important a role LGFB plays. The act of these four beautiful women transforming themselves and taking the time to learn with other women who are "like them” is something that just can’t be measured. I’m so honored to be a small part in helping LGFB do what they do.“
Want to help Look Good, Feel Better continue to help women feel beautiful and look better every day? Vote for us on the EcoTools Gives Back, Living Beautifully contest and we could win up at $75,000 in grant money from EcoTools.
The contest runs from now until July 5 and you can vote on the EcoTools Facebook page up to FIVE times per day! Happy voting!
Look Good Feel Better would like to give a BIG thank you to Kelsey, who in February 2013 raised over $2,000 for the program by organizing a 5K race in her community. She named her event the HOPE Run, which stands for “Helping to Open People’s Eyes” to the physical and emotional effects of cancer. Kelsey plans on organizing another 5K race in her community soon.
If you or someone you know would like to organize a community event to benefit the LGFB program, please contact email@example.com, so we can help answer your questions and provide you with all the information you need to help make your event a success.
Thank you again Kelsey, we are so touched by your generosity towards others!