Going through cancer treatment can have a physical and emotional toll, and many feel they have to put on a brave face. One charity is working hard to change this, and ensure everyone feels beautiful before, during and after chemotherapy.
“During times of challenge or crisis, the desire to look positive and feel confident is often still very strong,” explains Amanda Yeomans, regional manager for Scotland and Northern Ireland of Look Good Feel Better (LGFB). “Nowhere is this seen more clearly than when people are struggling to cope with the visible side effects of cancer treatments.”
LGFB is an international charity introduced to improve emotional health and wellbeing of people going through cancer treatment.
The charity runs workshops offering beauty and self-care advice, teaching skills and techniques to help cope with the side-effects of cancer treatment.
It also offers people the chance to socialise with others going through a similar experience.
At workshops, people learn how to manage changes in skin texture and tone, loss of eyelashes and eyebrows, and receive some well-deserved pampering.
“Feeling lonely, frightened and alienated is how many people describe going through treatment,” says Amanda. “People leave the sessions having learnt a lot, had fun, and chatting with a new-found confidence and very often wanting to go out that evening.”
Ann Handley-Greaves began attending the LGFB workshops after learning about them through cancer charity, Maggie’s.
“It’s difficult to explain how much Maggie’s has helped me, and getting involved in the make-up tutorial was the icing on the cake,” Ann enthuses. “We were a group of about ten ladies, all ages and sizes and within the space of a shared cuppa we had all gelled.”
“The beauticians were so helpful and patient: because I had very shaky hands that day, they did the make-up for me and at the end of the session I looked like someone else, it was amazing.”
As well as having practical benefits and equipping attendees with new skills, the workshops can also have a hugely positive emotional benefit, too.
“What was special is that we all forgot about our troubles, and were sharing experiences, not just about cancer, but all aspects of our lives and families,” continues Ann.
“We tend to cover up a lot from our family and friends to save them from any more pain. Being able to talk about cancer in such a relaxed and private manner is so therapeutic.”
Look Good Feel Better runs sessions at Maggie’s Centres throughout Scotland and internationally, helping boost the confidence of thousands of people going through cancer treatment each year.
“It’s nerve-wracking to walk into a room of strangers while you’re at your most vulnerable, but please do try – it will boost your confidence and well- being,” Ann urges. “I actually turned an emotional corner during the session: I did look good and certainly felt a whole lot better.”