Lipstick, wigs & scarves helping cancer patients "Look Good...Feel Better"

4:16 PM, Oct 10, 2010   |    comments
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Tampa, FL -- Call it a girl's night out for cancer patients. The American Cancer Society's Look Good...Feel Better workshop helps women with different types of cancer in different stages, some recently diagnosed, others battling for months, all with common challenges.

"From the time that I recently got diagnosed, thinned out real good here," Mary Mixon said as she fluffs the hair on top of her head. "My skin's been really dry all over my whole body."

"They're saying you're going to have some discoloring and you're going to be seeing some things that you're not going to be really happy with," Laura Lopresto said.

Mary was diagnosed March 1st with endocrine isolated pancreatic cancer after a CAT Scan revealed what was making her so sick. She's had to undergo two different kinds of chemotherapy and radiation.

Laura underwent an emergency appendectomy to remove an adenocarcinoma tumor. The rare tumor has the potential to develop cancer.

Look Good...Feel Better isn't just about looking good, but how a night of laughs and lipstick can change attitudes.

"I believe this will bring them around, boost up self-esteem, and it has with my wife. I can tell these ladies enjoy it," Jose Santiago said.

"I'm lucky to be here at Hope Lodge. I feel like a princess. I feel honored to be here," Mary said. "Ever since I came here, it's helped my morale."

The volunteers say it's even more rewarding for them.

"I tend to get more out of it than some of the ladies who come," Mystic Hair Stylist Heather Goodman said. "I come, maybe tired from working, but when I leave I'm just blessed to get to experience these women who are fighting for their life."

After two years of sharing her time, Heather has noticed these patients enjoy spending time with others going through treatment. "I see a lot of curious women who just want to experience something fun and also experience something with someone else who's going through the same thing that they're going through."

The patients say the stories, smiles and styling tips make them go home inspired.

"Nobody knows how they're going to deal with total hair loss. I don't. I'm petrified because I'm scared of what's going to happen, but when I see all these other ladies that walk around, they're still smiling and doing fine. I'll get through it along with millions of other women, but it's these kinds of groups that help these women," Laura said. "Having a small group of people you've never come in contact with before - but you can sit and smile and talk and share stories - I think that's amazing and it makes you go home feeling different."

All of the ladies leave the workshops with a bag full of free products, donated by popular skin care and makeup companies.

If you would like to volunteer at a local Look Good...Feel Better program or if you're a cancer patient and would like to sign up, click here. You can also call 1-800-227-9954.

Look Good...Feel Better programs are offered in the Bay area at St. Joseph's Cancer Institute at 3001 W. MLK Jr. Boulevard in Tampa, H. Lee Moffitt Cancer at 12902 Magnolia Drive in Tampa, Benjamin Mendick Hope Lodge at 12810 Magnolia Drive in Tampa, and the American Cancer Society at 1462 Oakfield Drive in Brandon.

Libby Hendren, 10 News

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