Look Good Feel Better connects cancer patients

By Heather Meade hmeade@civitasmedia.com

February 18, 2014

GREENVILLE - The Look Good Feel Better program through the American Cancer Society visits Wayne HealthCare about four times per year, said Jill Brown, cancer care coordinator for Wayne HealthCare. The program connects women who are currently undergoing cancer treatment, but also helps them feel “more like themselves again.”

“You need the tools to help you feel like the person you were,” Evelyn Sharp, cosmetologist, said. “This is a free public service program to help women learn to cope with the side effects of treatment. The program serves nearly 50,000 women each year…I feel like it’s helping to facilitate a resurgence of the soul in many of them.”

Look Good Feel Better is facilitated by a trained cosmetologist, but it’s about more than beauty, said Sharp. Cancer patients often find themselves facing more than a decision about what eye shadow they want to use, they find that their skin is just not the same as it was before treatment, she said. The Look Good Feel Better helps cancer patients understand their skin care needs, and gives them tools and tricks to deal with what’s often the hardest part of cancer treatment, the hair loss, Sharp said.

The women who attend receive a free make-up kit, donated by national manufacturers from all brands of the beauty industry, Sharp said. But these women are getting more than make-up, they’re making connections with other survivors, and learning the true beauty beneath the make-up. Betty Kindle and Heather Cramer, local women participating in the Look Good Feel Better workshop, were able to connect throughout the session, sharing personal stories and words of encouragement.

“What these women don’t always realize when they sign up, is that they’re meeting others who are going through the same situation, and it’s good to be able to talk and share in this atmosphere,” Sharp noted. “This program helps cancer patients from a different angle. It provides practical guidance and information in a fun setting.”

Cramer was diagnosed with breast cancer in November of 2013, had a double mastectomy in January, and began chemo treatment last week. She said that the community’s support, and the support of her friends and family has been amazing, but she hoped to gain something for herself from attending the Look Good Feel Better session, she said.

Cramer has three young sons, she said, and her husband teaches at a local high school. The uncertainty that comes with cancer treatment is a terrifying aspect for this young mother, not knowing what exactly to expect, because treatment is different for everyone.

“I was hoping that attending this session would help me feel better about the coming weeks,” Cramer stated. “I don’t know what I was expecting, but it certainly wasn’t just all this raw emotion,” she added. “This has definitely been a struggle, and the hardest thing is not knowing what this will bring.”

Betty Kindle, another Look Good Feel Better participant, was diagnosed with stage four pancreatic cancer, which has spread to her liver and and spleen, she said.

“I’m blessed, though,” Kindle stated. “I feel wonderful despite it all.”

And while Cramer hasn’t begun losing hair, and may not lose her hair during her treatment, Kindle offered encouraging words as she removed her wig to do her make-up: “I’m not bashful. This is who I am.” She shared that at first, she knew she was looking at herself in the mirror, but that it didn’t feel that way.

“During cancer treatment, or any treatment, we all want to look better than we feel,” Sharp commented. “Cancer is hard enough on our bodies, but it’s nice to have a way to feel good about yourself when you go out. I’m so happy to be able to give women the tools to have that.”