It’s about empowering men, women and kids in their teens living with this dreadful disease, to feel as normal as they can be going forward.
Some of the best people I know have been involved with LGFB, since it was founded in 1990 by the American based Look Good Feel Better Foundation (formerly Personal Care Products Council Foundation) – a charitable organization whose establishment story began with one patient. Click Here for its brief history.
Today, LGFB group programs are held across the globe in some 180 locations, including Australia. All the people who work for it are volunteers, many of whom have a career in the cosmetic industry.
However, LGFB is about so much more than just make up.
My girlfriend, a make-up artist for Channel Nine back in the day when we were young women together with boy babies living in the Northern Districts of Sydney, has been involved from the beginning. It was she who urged me to attend.
Basically, the class for women I attended teaches you about the hygiene you need to follow while undergoing chemotherapy in regard to the special skin care products that are best (nothing with perfume in it as it reacts on your skin).
Brilliantly, free samples are handed out during the session. They have all been been donated.
Moisturisers, those with a 50+ sun screen, are especially advised as a few minutes in the sun might send your face red during chemotherapy. It’s not a good look and one guaranteed to give people who don’t know you, a total fright.
Keeping your skin hydrated, as much as your inner body, also helps. Drinking copious amounts of water all day and rubbing specialist creams to replenish dry skin, into my hands and feet a number of times a day, is fast becoming part of my ritual.
There were six women present in the class I was part of, situated at the Epworth, Hospital, Richmond. After learning how to make up our face expertly, with fabulous cosmetics donated by all the top brand companies, we turned to our heads and loss of hair.
Turban tying is quite an art form and as our helpers revealed, it is all about knowing the tricks of the trade. While I use big scarves from SEED to tie mine, who would have thought going to Cotton On Kids and buying pairs of little tights with great patterns, made for six-year-old girls, would be a target!
You learn something every day.
As it happens, the upper part pulls on easily over an adult head. Then the two legs can be twisted and alternately wrapped over the top and then tucked in for a whole new look.
There are also basic soft hats to pull on before adding coloured silk or slippery synthetic scarfs that have been twisted to wrap around and give a two tone look. There are hundreds of You Tube tutorials you can sort through to find styles you like.
Then there is an added bonus in having a wig you like, plus a few ‘hairpieces’ from Wigs on Wheels, a mobile hair service that comes to you. The Friar Tuck, so-called by our hair demonstrator, allows you to still retain hair peeking out all the way around under your turban. Otherwise, you can add just a fringe in your own colour hair.
The wig that suited me best had a short cut ‘a la Dame Judi Dench, which was available in ‘glazed vanilla’, definitely the right colour for me if I do lose my hair. This is still an unknown as on my treatment, some do and some don’t. It remains to be seen if I will need one.
The wigs are all synthetic, which is absolutely fine. They have an advantage of being light, of holding the shape they are set in and as a bonus, require little maintenance. They wash easily and pop back into place in the style they were set in.
This is important when you have so many other side effects and other struggles daily to deal with. Also, they are very much cheaper than real hair wigs that are high maintenance. Having discussed it with a few others, there is no doubt you will want to burn them at the end of your treatment as a cathartic act!
The LGFB session lasted for some three hours, with morning tea half way through. During our time together a great camaraderie was built up by the girls attending and the volunteers of the day, who were all very professional.
There is no doubt as we left with our bags full of fabulous freebie products, we had all not only enjoyed a morale lift, but also with our faces looking so glamorous, definitely fell into the category of looking good and feeling very much better.
Carolyn McDowall, The Culture Concept Circle, 2018