It’s a typical day at the oncology clinic. Several patients distractedly thumb through magazines in the waiting room, not really interested in reading the pages. They wait anxiously for consultations and treatments. In one exam room, Susan, a 43-year-old artist and mother of two, receives the diagnosis she did not want to hear – malignant breast tumor. A lumpectomy, chemotherapy and radiation are the recommended course of treatment. In the chemotherapy room, a man sits silently while the nurse adjusts a catheter that will deliver the drugs into his chest.
Look Good, Feel Better (LGFB) is in the business of makeovers. Not the talk-show variety; the kind with a purpose. LGFB’s mission is to help improve the confidence of women with cancer by providing a free service teaching basic beauty techniques (from skin care to choosing a wig) to improve not only outer but inner beauty. LGFB believes by beginning with improving the tangible, each woman can better face her disease and treatment with an increased sense of optimism. Since its inception in 1989, more than 200,000 women have participated in the program.
Each of us has the opportunity to go through life with courage and face our difficulties with dignity. This is a story about the forces of nature and the power of personal intent. After working within the beauty industry as a makeup artist and an esthetician for some time, I came to the conclusion — I was more than a beauty expert, I had become a healer.
In one way or another, cancer has left its mark upon us all. It has touched my own life many times. As I watched friends, family members and clients fight their own intimate battles with the disease, I realized I was being given the opportunity to grow and learn from each experience.
When cancer is diagnosed, many fears can arise in the mind of the patient. What will happen to my body, my family, my career? Can I stand the pain? Will I survive? Foreboding thoughts of disfigurement, difficulty in daily functioning and physical discomfort come to the forefront. Pain can be a constant reminder of the ravaging, internal monster cells hell-bent on bodily destruction. And frequently pain and anxiety reinforce each other, leading to chronic distress. Although pharmacologic pain treatments are standard, they don’t always provide the relief needed.
We all have natural energetic healing abilities. My earliest recollection of this came from my mother Margaret. Whenever my brother or I had a “booboo,” she would rub it with her hands, and if it was really serious, kiss it. Somehow it always made us feel better. Of course neither she nor I understood about energetic techniques, but I learned from these experiences that touch could make people feel better.