“We want to keep everything really upbeat and positive,” said Porter, owner of Melissa & Co. Salon, which features 11 hairstylists who participate in the Look Good...Feel Better program in Cartersville. “And you know, if you look good, you feel better of course. There’s so many different things [to discuss about] sanitation as far as makeup goes. So it’s just really important for the patients to know that as they go through all their treatments. There [also] might be dark spots here and there — things that they are going through with their treatment — that they don’t know that they can really try to cover up. As far as styling the wigs, [there are] just some different secrets [we can share about] keeping the wigs on better, [or how to] not even [wear] a wig, doing a scarf or a hat, different things like that.
“We’re pampering them and we’re lifting their spirits. For me, I got involved with this because my grandmother died of cancer — both of my grandmothers. Then I wanted to be very involved, and now I’m actually a cancer survivor myself. ... it’s just really rewarding because I went through that experience,” she said, adding she was diagnosed with appendix cancer two years ago. “I didn’t have to go through the [chemotherapy] treatment, but it was a big possibility. ... I just want to give back. I feel so blessed. For me, it was like my second chance.”
To increase the number of volunteers, the American Cancer Society is hosting a breakfast at Cartersville Medical Center’s Classroom No. 2 Monday at 9:30 a.m.
“The breakfast is actually geared toward local cosmetologists and beauty professionals, nail techs, aestheticians, [hairstylists], just anyone who is licensed in the beauty industry so that they can learn a little bit more about the Look Good...Feel Better program, because the program is actually completely and totally community, volunteer driven,” said Jodi R. Williams, public relations manager for the ACS’ Cobb office. “It will also have survivors, who are radiation and chemotherapy patients, who have benefited from the Look Good...Feel Better program. And it will have [samples] and wigs and things like that and beauty kits to show the cosmetologists what this program can provide for different people that are able to utilize the program.
“So it’s kind of twofold. It’s to garner more volunteer basis from the beauty professionals, but it’s also really to get the word out so that they can tell their friends and neighbors and family members who possibly might be able to benefit from this free program.”
Williams said the feedback from the volunteers already participating in the program has been extremely favorable.
“It’s absolutely amazing. The beauty professionals, especially local people who are doing this for a living, they do it because they love it,” Williams said. “They love beauty, and they love making people feel good about themselves. This program really is priceless in that that’s what it does for cancer patients — patients who possibly don’t have the money to go out and buy a high quality wig or go out and buy makeup to make themselves feel better, once they’ve either lost their hair or they’re having skin problems from chemo and radiation. They are now able to benefit from this.
“All of our volunteers who do offer their services, whether it’s a nail tech or whether it’s a hairstylist, that is the one feedback that they always tell us. That this is something they love to do, and what better group of people to be able to help then people who really oftentimes aren’t able to help themselves.”
Sponsored by the ACS and the National Cosmetology Association, the Look Good...Feel Better classes are offered on the second Monday of every month at 10 a.m. at The Hope Center, 100 Market Place Blvd. in Cartersville.
During the session, a trained cosmetologist shares makeup techniques to help women overcome the side effects of chemotherapy and radiation, some of which include hair loss and variations in skin pigmentation. Applications like forming an eyebrow line with a makeup pencil can assist women in looking more like their former selves. In addition to the makeup tips, the participants also learn the importance of discarding old makeup to ward off germs and how to care for their hair prosthesis.
“The purpose of the program is just to help make the patients that are going through treatment feel better about what they’re going through,” said ACS Senior Community Manager Gretchen Barkley. “It’s just a day to spend on them and teach them about some of the changes that they’re going through with cancer, whether it be loss of hair or skin changes with dryness, that type of thing.
“Also, [they teach them about] trying to keep safe too, because you do have to watch [for] bacteria [when] dealing with your face and putting on makeup. ... [The program] really does help make them feel better [about] what they’re going through so they don’t feel like they are getting negative attention, whether it be from with the balding or no eyebrows or eyelashes. So it’s to help compensate for that and give them the confidence to go out in the community and go on with their day-to-day activities. [It is] also a chance for them to be with other people in the same position that they are in.”
For more information about attending or volunteering, call the ACS at 770-429-0089. More details about the program can be found at www.lookgoodfeelbetter.org. Melissa & Co. Salon — 1243 Joe Frank Harris Parkway in Cartersville — also is serving as a ACS wig bank and collection site.