Cosmetic program helps cancer patients regain their appearance, fortify their strength to battle ...

By Natalie White, Standard-Times

Roseann DeGrenier carefully explained the layering technique to emphasize the eyebrows. First, you pencil in the line of small hairs, following the natural arch. Then use a brush to create a feathery look, and again pencil in more hairs.

"A very natural look," she told the group of more than a dozen women who met last month in Wareham. The cosmetologist advised them that bushy eyebrows are in this year, along with heightened cheek color and near-nude lip color.

Next, the Wareham woman picked up a pair of dark demi-lashes. "Now, does anyone have trouble with eyelashes?" she asked.

Barbara Nord of Wareham nodded. "I do," she said. "I don't have any."

The other women murmured knowingly. They are familiar with eyelashes falling out, as well as eyebrows and the hair on their heads. They have cancer, and know firsthand the toll chemotherapy and radiation can take on a patient's appearance.

In most cases, hair loss is a temporary condition, but it is a constant reminder of the cancer. To help women through this time, The American Cancer Society, the Cosmetic, Toiletry and Fragrance Association Foundation and the National Cosmetology Association have banded together to offer a free program for cancer patients called Look Good, Feel Better.

"This is a great program. You come and see you're not the only one dealing with this. Sometimes, you feel very alone," said Ms. Nord, who was diagnosed in August with inoperable lung cancer.

Chemotherapy and radiation treatments are slightly improving her condition, she said, but hair loss is also occurring. Ms. DeGrenier, owner of Ara's His & Hers Hairstyling in Wareham, led this group in November at the Wareham Free Public Library.

"This is so rewarding for me," she said. "At first when I started (working with cancer patients), I was so emotional and I thought, 'I've made the wrong decision.' But after my first client was so happy and happy just to look more like herself, I said, 'This is really what I want to do.'"

During the program, she gives her clients beauty tips ranging from how to wear a scarf and re-create eyebrows to checking skin products to make sure they don't contain excessive alcohol and using shoulder pads to fill out a wig that doesn't fit quite right.

Claire Hickey, 41, is battling breast cancer. She drove from Braintree for the program because she wanted advice on how to twist, tie and knot scarves so they fit securely and attractively over the scalp and under hats. Ms. Hickey lost her hair during cancer treatment and has been left with baby-fine fuzz on her scalp, which she covers with a stylish short-haired wig. But it's not always comfortable. When she wants a break from the hairpiece, especially when she's at home, Ms. Hickey said she'd like to cover up with a scarf - and she'd like to look good doing it.

"You don't want people looking at you and saying, 'Doesn't she look funny in that hat,' " said Ms. Hickey, who was Ms. DeGrenier's model during the Look Good, Feel Better session. She said the program really helped. When she looks better, it allows her to forget the cancer for a while. "When you look in the mirror and you look awful, it brings it all to the forefront," Ms. Hickey said.

"A program like this really helps." Mary Peterson, a licensed clinical social worker with a specialty in oncology, agreed. She leads the Woman To Woman support group at The Oncology Center in Dartmouth, an eight-week support program for women newly diagnosed with cancer. One of the weeks is devoted to a Look Good, Feel Better program, presented at The Oncology Center by Gloria & Company of New Bedford. Participants take home not only tips but a gift bag of cosmetics worth more than $100, donated by cosmetic companies.

"It's a wonderful chance for them to be with others who are going through similar experiences and learn how to experiment with makeup. It's a time to laugh and have fun," said Ms. Peterson.

The physical changes that can come with cancer treatment can be devastating, she said.

"For 20, 30, 40, 50 or 60 years, these women have been used to having their own hair, and doing it a certain way. They're used to having their complexion be a certain way," said Ms. Peterson. "Then, all of sudden, you're slammed between the eyes with a diagnosis of cancer, then chemotherapy, radiation or surgery. They lose their hair, their eyebrows, their eyelashes. They feel as if they've been robbed of who they have been all these years."

The Look Good, Feel Better program helps give some of that back. "One thing they really need is support, not isolation and depression," Ms. Peterson said. "This demonstration is a very supportive time to learn new things and to gain from each other."

~ To learn about the next session near you, contact the American Cancer Society ~

for women

Look Good, Feel Better is a free, national public service program dedicated to teaching women cancer patients beauty techniques to help restore their appearance and self-image during cancer treatment. Through Look Good, Feel Better sessions, women learn how to cope with the appearance-related side effects of cancer treatment.

We Serve all women actively undergoing treatment for cancer. Each year, approximately 30,000 patients participate in a Look Good, Feel Better group program.


The Cosmetic, Toiletry, and Fragrance Association (CTFA) Foundation, a charitable organization established by CTFA, the trade association which represents the cosmetics industry.

The American Cancer Society (ACS), the nationwide, community-based, voluntary health organization dedicated to eliminating cancer as a major health problem.

The National Cosmetology Association (NCA), a national organization of more than 45,000 hairstylists, wig experts, estheticians, makeup artists and nail technicians.

types of service

Two-hour Group Makeover Workshops: group programs are offered in cancer centers, hospitals and other community settings across the country. The workshops include 5-10 women and are conducted by teams of trained beauty professionals.

The participants learn beauty techniques in skin care, makeup, hair and nails in a hands-on class using actual products. Demonstrations of the use of wigs, hats, turbans and scarf tying techniques are also included.

Participants receive a take-home instructional booklet and a complimentary kit of cosmetics containing a variety of cosmetic products. The kits, containing light, medium, dark and extra dark products, are available at group LGFB session.

one-on-one salon consultation

This service is offered in select salon locations across the country. Trained, volunteer cosmetologists provide a free, one-time consultation to women cancer patients who cannot attend a group session or would prefer a private setting. The consultation includes a 6-minute video, a take-home instructional pamphlet, and information about skin care, makeup, hair and nails. LGFB cosmetic kits are not distributed at one-on-one session, and women are encouraged to bring their own cosmetics if they wish.

educational materials

A new self-help kit, Look Good, Feel Better - Just for You offers a thirty minute video with companion instructional booklet for women who cannot access a group program in their area.

The self-help kit was made possible by a grant from Avon Products, Inc. and is also available in Spanish.

It will be distributed to eligible patients through the American Cancer Society national call center 800-395-LOOK at no charge.

toll-free telephone number

Look Good, Feel Better's toll-free information and referral number, 800-395-LOOK, is answered by trained, Look Good, Feel Better and cancer information specialists 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Or, you may call the Look Good, Feel Better toll free number: 800-395-LOOK (Spanish speaking operators are available, and translators are available for most other languages), or the local American Cancer Society office.


Specific program schedules and availability can be obtained through your local American Cancer Society office.

For more information about Look Good, Feel Better, e-mail us with your request

teenage guys + girls

Look Good, Feel Better for Teens is a free public service program that provides useful information and tips for teens dealing with the appearance and sociological side-effects related to cancer and its treatment.


Eligibility: Look Good, Feel Better for Teens is open to boys and girls ages 13-17 who are undergoing chemotherapy and radiation treatment for any kind of cancer.


Look Good, Feel Better trained professional volunteers run co-ed group sessions of the teen program. The sessions run about an hour and a half and include about 10 teenagers.

free materials

A Teen Guide with specific information explaining the program; recipe book of fun, easy recipes for teens with cancer; complimentary backpack with skin care items, makeup (for girls), some hair products and a baseball cap.


The sessions are hands-on, interactive, and most important, fun! Each session is separated into sections on skin care, hair care, and issues such as nutrition, fitness and social life. The skin care and makeup tips deal with treatment related changes such as loss of eyebrows and skin discoloration.

The hair care tips include choosing and caring for a wig, as well as the chance to experiment with hats, turbans, and bandanas. The fitness and nutrition advice discusses things like weight fluctuations. Through role playing and games, teens learn about and share suggestions on real life issues such as tobacco, alcohol, tattooing, friends, sexual relationships, etc.


For more information, call 800-395-LOOK, or call or email the American Cancer Society.


Make a Positive Difference in Someone's Life: Be a Look Good, Feel Better Volunteer

Volunteers are the heart and soul of Look Good, Feel Better. We depend on the competence, creativity, enthusiasm and dedication of volunteers to provide meaningful help to women with cancer. Volunteer opportunities include:

Beauty Professionals: Experienced beauty professionals with a license in cosmetology, formal training as an esthetician or makeup artist, or trained as a nail technician, are needed as volunteers on an on-going basis.

Must make a commitment of 3-5 hours each month to conduct group sessions or one-on-one salon consultations where you will teach women hands-on beauty techniques to help restore their appearance and self-image.

Look Good, Feel Better volunteer coordinators draw their professional experience from a variety of fields, and most important to the job is a sincere interest in helping to deliver the Look Good, Feel Better program.

Includes working with the local American Cancer Society office to coordinate materials and assign cosmetology volunteers for Look Good, Feel Better sessions.

Qualifications include good organizational skills, good people and public speaking skills, and a willingness to commit 5-10 hours a month. There is generally no more than one volunteer coordinator in each metro area.

Host site volunteers coordinate Look Good, Feel Better programs at specific host sites, such as a hospital. Serves as the liaison between the site and the LGFB volunteer coordinator, and as the primary source of information to professionals at that site, such as doctors and nurses.

Informs patients of LGFB program dates, insures all materials are ordered, secures a room and sets it up, and meets and greets the patients when they arrive. Site volunteers are often hospital employees.

volunteer training

Beauty Professionals: Must complete a four-hour Look Good, Feel Better certification class which teaches the basics of how to conduct a Look Good, Feel Better program, and helps volunteers better understand cancer and the physical and psychological impact of the disease.

Each year following certification, volunteers are asked to attend a Look Good, Feel Better Update Class to refresh their knowledge and skills.

Volunteer Coordinators and Site Volunteers: Must complete an orientation conducted by a staff member of the local American Cancer Society before they begin volunteering.

become a volunteer

If you are interested in becoming a Look Good, Feel Better volunteer, you may call or write your local American Cancer Society or National Cosmetology Association affiliate, or call the Look Good, Feel Better toll-free number: 800-395-LOOK.

Or you can complete the Volunteer application and e-mail it to us.

The application will be forwarded to the appropriate location for further follow up by the Look Good, Feel Better coordinator.

Beauty professionals' applications will be held until a volunteer training date is established.

Copyright 2003 Look Good, Feel Better

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Read an excerpt from Cancer as a Turning Point
Antonella Gambotto interviews Deepak Chopra
Make yourself feel better - NOW!
Dr Rudolph Ballentine, author of Radical Healing
A healthy life
The laughter page
The biochemistry of hope
Problems with health insurance
Find your own North Star
An inspiring interview with cancer survivor Louise Hay
Brandon Bays, cancer survivor and author of The Journey

Look Good, Feel Better USA
Look Good, Feel Better Canada
Look Good, Feel Better UK
Look Good, Feel Better Australia
The Look Good, Feel Better 12-Step Makeover Guide