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Helping Cancer Patients ‘Look Good…Feel Better’

January 20, 2012

Washington Hospital Hosts Free Workshops for Women

A 19-year breast cancer survivor, Nesly Moquette knows firsthand that battling cancer can be rough. That’s why she is an American Cancer Society (ACS) volunteer, organizing group workshops for the “Look Good…Feel Better” program at the Washington Women’s Center and other East Bay locations.

“After I went through cancer treatments, I wanted to provide positive support to others who were fighting the disease,” she recalls. “I worked with the American Cancer Society’s Reach for Recovery program for many years. Then when they launched the Look Good…Feel Better program several years ago, I decided to help with that, too. I lost some of my hair because of chemotherapy, so I know that changes in your appearance can be disheartening. I think people recover better when they look better, which is the objective of Look Good…Feel Better.”

Look Good…Feel Better is a collaborative effort of the ACS, the Personal Care Products Council Foundation and the National Cosmetology Association (NCA).  The program is a free, non-medical service to help women with cancer improve their appearance and self-esteem, enabling them to manage their treatment and recovery with greater confidence. Small group workshops provide hands-on instruction on makeup, skin care and nail care, as well as ways to deal with hair loss by using wigs, turbans and scarves. The program also provides free makeup kits with products from well-known companies and high-quality wigs.

Washington Hospital has been hosting Look Good…Feel Better “makeover” workshops led by Moquette and Shirley Fraga, a licensed esthetician whose husband is a cancer survivor, for small groups of women for many years.

“The workshops are open to all women with cancer who are undergoing radiation therapy, chemotherapy or other treatments,” says Washington Women’s Center Coordinator Kathy Hesser, RN. “The workshops are for women only. A female translator or caregiver may accompany the patient. Male companions are welcome to relax in one of the coffee shops or cafés located adjacent to the Women’s Center.”

Hair loss and skin problems caused by radiation and chemotherapy not only may detract from cancer patients’ appearance, but also may expose them to unwanted scrutiny from other people, according to Hesser.

“For women with cancer who are losing their hair or who have skin problems due to their treatments, having the right wig and sensitive cosmetics can help them maintain their dignity and confidentiality,” Hesser explains. “They don’t want to be seen and known just as a cancer patient. I’ve seen some patients with these wigs, and I didn’t even know they were wigs. They come in a variety of styles and color preferences, and the esthetician can help personalize the style of the wig. She also can teach participants how to draw in eyebrows, camouflage unusual skin pigmentation and tie on headscarves.  It really is a very special program that helps women learn to care for themselves.”

Look Good…Feel Better workshops currently take place in the Washington Women’s Center in the Washington West Building at 2500 Mowry Avenue in Fremont. The free workshops for the coming year are scheduled for Monday evenings from 7 to 9 p.m. on the following dates:
·    January 23
·    March 19
·    June 11
·    August 13
·    October 15
·    November 26

Workshops are scheduled during the evenings so they won’t interfere with daytime work schedules or doctor appointments. Because the size of the workshops is limited, registration is required. Individual consultations with a volunteer cosmetologist also may be available for cancer patients who are unable to attend a group workshop.

“Our goal is to provide a comfortable environment where women can feel safe asking questions and trying cosmetic products and wigs,” says Moquette. “I even bring in my prosthesis and the sleeve I wear to avoid lymphedema so the women can see what they look like.

“We generally start with the makeup session first, and then try wigs on at the end,” she adds. “The one thing we love more than anything else is to meet a woman who comes in with no hair and help her find the perfect wig. And the reactions from the husbands are wonderful, too!”

To register for a workshop or inquire about other Look Good…Feel Better services such as individual consultations or free wigs, call 1-800-227-2345. For more information about the Look Good…Feel Better program, visit the ACS Web site at www.cancer.org or www.lookgoodfeelbetter.org. A Look Good…Feel Better for Men brochure is available at www.lookgoodfeelbetterformen.org.