Team up Montana

Oct 26, 2011 12:22 PM by Brittany Wooley (KTVQ News)

Program building self-esteem in battle against cancer

BILLINGS- Cancer and its treatment bring some unwanted changes to a person's appearance, including hair loss, dark circles under the eyes, and changes to skin tone and color.

One program is helping those struggling with cancer 'Look Good...Feel Better' by offering a one-on-one makeover along with instructions on the use of scarves and hair pieces.

"It's just like getting together with a bunch of girls and trying on hats and turbans and make-up. It's just like a party," cancer survivor, Susan Adams, said during the class.

Licensed cosmologists run through tricks like how to make a turban out of a t-shirt and how to draw in eyebrows and eyelashes when they fall out.

A major focus of the class is cleanliness because cancer patients are more susceptible to disease.

"I think most useful, more than the skills that I learned here, was just meeting more people who are in the same situation that I'm in. It's always encouraging. You sort of form a sisterhood I think when you have cancer with other people who have it too," cancer survivor Brenda Chinadle said.

The two volunteer cosmetologist in this particular class say the program has personally touched their lives.

Volunteer cosmetologist Mary Allen Murphy was diagnosed with cancer in 2002 and became involved in the program a year later.

"Because I've been through it, I can share a little more emotional and deeper views. They always say you have you have to have gone through it, and it is true," Murphy said.

The other volunteer, Nicki Halligan, added, "My grandma had cancer, and she attended the class, so that was fun for us. She then had the tools so that when she wanted to go out and look really pretty and get dolled up that she was able to. I think it just really helps because they are down and out and tired, and not eating, and so once they know they look good and feel better it just kind of escalates from there."

Each woman who attends the class walks away with a gift bag provided by the Personal Care Products Council Foundation, made up of various products donated by different cosmetic industries.

"It will be helpful to make me feel better about myself, going through the chemotherapy and waiting for my own hair to come back," Adams said.

"The support has been huge. It just keeps you going day by day. It just seems like somebody is always there when you need them to pump you up and keep you going," Chinadle said.

"Just seeing the smile and when they walk out the door and knowing that they do look good and feel better and that this program has given them some hope, and it's all free," Murphy said.

While men don't usually attend the class, tips are available online and there are three classes a month in Billings and classes offered across the state and nation. Women are invited to attend more than one class, but they only receive one gift bag.

For more information on the program, click here or call the American Cancer Society at (406) 256.7156.

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