Free Look Good Feel Better workshops held nationally help cancer patients to manage the appearance-related side-effects of their treatment.
Free Look Good Feel Better workshops held nationally help cancer patients to manage the appearance-related side-effects of their treatment.

Toowoomba workshop helps cancer patients look & feel better

WHEN you look good, you feel better about yourself. It's a simple enough philosophy with which few could argue. But for women who are undergoing the often grueling process of cancer treatment, it means so much more.

Look Good Feel Better is a free national community service program which helps cancer patients (male and female) to manage the appearance-related side-effects of chemotherapy and radiation, and in many cases to win back their self-esteem.

The program, held for women in Toowoomba once or twice a month, is open to anyone undergoing cancer treatment, and involves a practical workshop covering skin care, make-up and hair options and a small gift pack. For some participants, losing their hair feels like losing part of their identity. They now look like a cancer patient. "Some of the ladies say losing their hair is as bad as the actual treatment," volunteer Hellen Teys said.

Hellen has been operating Toowoomba's Hellen Teys Hair Fashions since 1987, but for the past 16 years she has also been working with the Look Good Feel Better program. At special small-group mornings, organised through the St Vincent's and St Andrew's hospitals, Hellen helps women to understand about hair loss, scalp health, and how their hair will grow back. She also helps them to choose wigs and demonstrates headwear such as turbans.

"I like to see the difference it makes for them. By the end of the morning they're much happier and more confident," Hellen said. Make-up demonstrations by a qualified beautician, she said, included demonstrating how to draw on eyebrows, often lost in treatment, as well as cleansers, toners and foundations to help with skincare, and to make them look better, even if they didn't feel well.

As one NSW program participant said afterwards, "The worse I felt, the brighter my lipstick became". It all plays an important part in redeveloping people's self-confidence. "The ladies can talk to each other about their experiences, and meet other people who are going through the same thing," Hellen said."Most don't realise there's such a variety of wigs to choose from. They aren't like they were years ago. They are synthetic but they are much more natural looking."

More than 125,000 people have participated in the program since it began in Sydney in 1990 and it's all non-government funded, so if you can help the Cancer Patients Foundation to continue this work, go to http://lgfb.org.au/ or call 1800 650 960.


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