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Look Good Feel Better: Helping cancer patients for 25 years

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Updated: July 9, 2014 2:14AM



When breast and cervical cancer survivor Kari Martin lost her hair during chemotherapy treatments, she said, “I went through some dark, sad days and never felt so ugly and scared. I never thought I’d ever look normal or be pretty again.”

Martin found help through a Look Good Feel Better workshop. This free, national public service program, a cooperation with the American Cancer Society, the Personal Care Products Council Foundation, and the Professional Beauty Association, teaches cancer patients to manage the appearance side effects of chemotherapy and radiation treatments.

Volunteers at the workshop — some of whom were cancer survivors themselves — gave her wigs and helped her with makeup and skin care.

“They know exactly what you’re going through,” Martin said. “Sisters and friends want to be there for you, but they don’t always know what to say. People at Look Good Feel Better know what you’re going through.”

Look Good Feel Better has been helping women like Martin for 25 years.

A program is born

The idea started when a doctor and a cosmetics executive combined forces to help one of the doctor’s patients cope with the physical changes caused by her cancer treatment.

After she received a makeover by beauty experts, her emotional health improved dramatically.

In March 1989, Look Good Feel Better was launched so that more women in cancer treatment could receive this kind of help.

In a blog published on the Look Good Feel Better website, executive director Louanne Roark writes, “The concept was to offer education and expert beauty guidance from caring volunteers to help improve a woman’s changed appearance, self-esteem and outlook, and give her the ability to approach her disease and treatment with greater confidence.”

In the past 25 years, more than 850,000 women have participated in the program, which now offers 15,400 group workshops nationwide in more than 2,500 locations. The program is also available in 26 countries around the world.

Look Good Feel Better is supported by thousands of volunteer beauty professionals, health care professionals and others who give their time to the program. All are trained and certified by the Personal Care Products Council Foundation, the American Cancer Society, and the Professional Beauty Association at local, statewide and national workshops.

Many of the volunteers have had cancer themselves, or have been close to someone who has.

Tina Malphrus, a Look Good Feel Better volunteer for 12 years, took care of her mother before she died of cervical cancer.

“I’ve had the opportunity over the years to work with some great staff partners and I’ve met wonderful people and patients,” Malphrus said. “You never think that you will be blessed by cancer being a part of your life. But I can honestly say the journey I went through with my mom was a blessing because if I had not gone through that with her, I wouldn’t be as emotionally tied to it.”

Helping more people

Through the years, Look Good Feel Better has branched out to reach more people with cancer. These expanded programs include Look Good Feel Better for Teens, Look Good Feel Better for Men, and Lucza Bien Sientase Mejor, a Spanish-language program for women.

In addition, materials and virtual workshops are available for women who are unable to attend a group workshop in person.

Call the American Cancer Society at (800) 227-2345 to learn more.



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