Volunteer Spotlight: National Trainer, Donna Shoemaker Reflects on the Grace of Look Good Feel Better

As a young esthetician and make up artist I was asked to speak and do make up for a group of women with cancer.  I was nervous and concerned I might not say the right thing or have the proper tools.  I was moved by the support and connection these women found in each other.  Apparently this topic of how to still look like yourself in your daily life during treatment was of huge importance to so many women in the world.  I had no idea.  My profession took a serious turn.

I worked on my own from my spa and then with family and friends during their treatment doing the best I could.  I was in deep thought about how really everyone was touched by cancer in some way or another when I met a gentlemen volunteer who told me about Look Good Feel Better.  I was certified by Look Good Feel Better in 2006 and volunteered right away in my home region of Northern Arizona.  I found community and more important was trained with the tools I needed in a program that reaches so many. 

Thanks Look Good Feel Better National Collaborators (The Personal Care Products Council Foundation, the American Cancer Society, and the Professional Beauty Association) for the channel to work through.

My word to describe the Look Good Feel Better program would be GRACE. 

Aspiring to walk with grace. 

The grace, dignity and bravery of the women who attend LGFB

Grace in the gift of giving of oneself from our volunteers

Takes my breath away to witness such grace in action

Aspiring to walk in this life in grace. 

I could talk forever about all of the uplifting experiences I have had with Look Good Feel Better.  I’ll try and not talk your ear off here.  Two of my favorite stories:

When conducting patient workshops early on I would get nervous prior to the start of the program hoping and wishing I would get it right.  The responsibility of working with “cancer patients” was overwhelming.  At the start of this one particular workshop I found a women who was uncomfortable to remove her wig as she was experiencing hair loss.  Just as I opened my mouth to encourage her another attendee of the program whipped off her wig!  She vigorously rubbed her head and laughed with joy in her heart.  “Look at how luxurious my new hair is, yes it is coming back!  She instilled hope while inspiring the whole group to part with their head coverings and wigs with ease and grace.  I knew then the importance of the workshop.  I needed to say nothing.  It was not about me.  I was simply the guide. These women were no longer “cancer patients”.  They are Amanda and Kim and Margaret.  They’re our friends and family and co-workers.  Talking, laughing and sharing tips and tricks for nails, make up, skin care and hair ideas.  As women do, they were instantly bonded with a common connection.

 Another time A very serious husband and wife arrived for a Patient Workshop.  We asked the husband to enjoy some free time during the two – hour workshop. He was concerned with leaving her.  You could see it in his eyes but he did.  His wife agreed to be my model and during the program found herself head over heels for one of the wigs we demonstrated.  “How exciting, I always wanted to try a new color but never had the guts!” she exclaimed. 

 Upon her husbands returned we all waited while she approached him looking good and feeling better.  He started to brush by her when she grabbed his arm.  He was shocked at first over her flowing red hair.  After a deep look into each other’s eyes and a big hug he yelled “Hey Donna we gotta go now, come on gorgeous we have a date!”  I practically had to chase them down to get the wig back!  I got a call later that day from our local American Cancer Society office letting me know that they went there directly and acquired a red wig. Look Good Feel Better has a reach farther than we know.

My favorite part of the Look Good Feel Better program is the connection.  It’s not about patients and volunteers. It is about people coming together and sharing.  You could say professionals sharing or patients sharing or women sharing but at the end of the day were all just humans who are connected.

   As a National Trainer who trains Area Trainers to go into their regions and train volunteers I am blown away by the passion and commitment that comes from these people who give of their time and selves to continue this work. From the National Collaborators, who created LGFB to the volunteers who implement it.

Everyone in treatment deserves Look Good Feel Better, so we must continue.