Ellen Dunning, interim area director for the American Cancer Society, prepares a wig for a breast cancer patient. The ACS offers wigs, make-up and personal care instruction in its Look Good, Feel Better program. Women with cancer have an opportunity to meet other patients and improve their morale by overcoming side effects of treatment.
The American Cancer Society has a program to improve a woman’s morale while she battles breast cancer.
Mary Huff, health initiatives representative for the ACS in Paducah, said while battling a potentially deadly disease, treatments like chemotherapy and radiation affect a patient’s appearance with side effects. These side effects could include dry skin, head and body hair loss, loss of eyebrows, eyelashes, problems with nails and cuticles, dark circles around the eyes and areas of splotchy skin.
Look Good, Feel better gives women the tools needed to improve their appearance during treatment.
“What the class does is allows a group of patients to learn how to overcome these side effects with make-up, wigs, head wraps and products to improve the skin,” Huff said. “Every patient receives a bag with about $35 of product donated by the Cosmetic, Toiletry and Fragrance Association and the National Cosmetology Association.”
Huff said about 80 to 100 women attend Look Good, Feel Good in Western Kentucky annually. The ACS offers classes monthly in Paducah and quarterly in Murray.
Brenda Peck of Murray serves as trainer for cosmetologists involved in the program. She beat breast cancer in 2002 and became involved in Look Good, Feel Better in 2003.
“One of the best things about Look Good, Feel Better is women come to classes with other women experiencing the same things,” Peck said. “Some patients feel like they are the only ones to lose their hair, and it helps them to know other women are going through the same thing.”
With the make-up, Peck said women also may receive a wig from the ACS wig bank. Parts of her class deal with wig care and creating head wraps from T-shirts.
Nicole Norsworthy, 37, of Murray, said she was diagnosed with cancer earlier in the year. She found her tumor while breastfeeding her newborn daughter. She said pre-operational chemotherapy leaves her fatigued, nauseated, achy, experiencing anxiety and a confused and altered state she called chemo-fog. She lost her hair after treatment began and experiences dry hands and feet. She added her nails are also falling off.
“I went to a class in Murray,” Norsworthy said. “There were five of us. We were taught about skin care, how to do make-up, and learned not to use false eyelashes if we lost our lashes because of infection risk. It feels good to have people going through the same things around you. We share information almost every day.”
To enroll in a Look Good, Feel Better session or to volunteer as a cosmetologist, call 1-800-227-2345.