Look Good Feel Better’s workshops connect women going through cancer treatment and give them the tools to feel like themselves again.
Research shows that body image and appearance-related changes can be a major area of concern in up to 67% of cancer patients. It makes sense — the way we look goes far beyond vanity. Much of our identity is related to our physical appearance, and hair especially is an important indicator of femininity that’s often tied to a woman’s self-esteem.
The appearance-related impacts of cancer — scarring, hair loss, and skin changes — affect women who may already be feeling vulnerable in many other ways and can negatively impact their mental and spiritual health. Fortunately, the Canadian charity Look Good Feel Better (LGFB) is giving women the tools and techniques to feel beautiful and vital, helping to restore her own sense of self.
Looking good and feeling even better
“Once you start your cancer treatment, it’s very hard to hide your illness,” says Milena Commisso, who was diagnosed with breast cancer a second time this spring after 15 years in remission. “The appearance-related side effects — loss of hair, eyebrows, and eyelashes, and dark circles around your eyes — are dramatic. When you look in the mirror, you don’t recognize yourself. And it was sad for me to see how my appearance was affecting my daughter. It was a constant reminder for both of us that I was sick.”
Commisso has attended the LGFB workshop twice now and benefited so much that she became an LGFB Ambassador. LGFB’s complimentary workshops help women living with cancer cope with the appearance-related effects of the disease. Through the workshops, participants are also able to connect with other women facing similar challenges and concerns, creating a sense of community.
The snowball effect of feeling beautiful
Currently, women can access LGFB programming online from the comfort of their own home. Three different workshops are offered: Skincare & Cosmetics, Wigs & Hair Alternatives, and Breast Forms & Garments. Besides offering practical tips and techniques, women leave feeling motivated and empowered. An impressive 98% of participants would recommend LGFB to another woman with cancer.
“They taught me little things that really changed the way I’d feel on any given day,” says Commisso. She notes the “snowball effect” of learning beauty, hair, skin care, and fashion tips — she was more motivated to go out and do other things, like visit a friend, though physically distanced for now.
Commisso encourages women with cancer to join a LGFB workshop. “Not only are you going to learn great tips, you’re also going to feel a strength in that room or on that video call from the other women who are attending. And honestly, that strength is very contagious,” she says. “It just lifts you up.”