Why Run? Because cosmetics fight cancer
By Rose Egge
Editor’s note: KOMO News reporter and cancer survivor Rose Egge will publish a series or stories this week showing how the American Cancer Society uses donations, including those received through the Seattle Rock N Roll Marathon happening this weekend on June 23.
Who doesn't like free stuff? Especially when that free stuff is designer makeup and skin care products. But for the women taking the American Cancer Society's "Look Good...Feel Better" workshop, its not the little red bags filled with goodies that give them strength. It is their fellow survivors sitting next to them.
As a cancer survivor myself, I know first-hand the changes your body goes through during cancer treatment. I lost my hair. My skin became dry and irritated. My face was often pale. My eyebrows and eye lashes came and went. Some days, I was too sick to care about how I looked. But on other days, putting on a pretty scarf and some makeup made me feel like myself again.
I suspect the desire for "normalcy" is what draws many cancer survivors to the American Cancer Society's "Look Good...Feel Better" program. Started in 1989 by a breast cancer survivor, "Look Good...Feel Better" currently offers videos and instructional guides online and hosts workshops at most cancer treatment centers in the Northwest.
I sat in on one of these workshops at Highline Medical Center's Cancer Center.
Three different women of varying ages and health histories came in and were treated to thoughtful gift bags filled with $350 in cosmetics from companies like NARS, Estée Lauder and Chanel. And while the women loved digging into their gifts, it was not the little red bag that has the biggest impact on them. It was the women sitting next to them.
"The beauty of this program is that women may sign up for class to learn more about using beauty products, but they get to sit in a class with women going through the same experience as they are," said Amber Cook, quality of life manager at the American Cancer Society. "They come in shy and reserved and leave laughing or taking off their wigs. It's liberating to be in a room with women who understand."
As they warmed up to each other, the survivors shared symptoms and stories. Bouts of frustration were mixed in with moments of humor as the women learned makeup tips they may have never considered before, like drawing in their eyebrows.
"Its not just addressing the physical appearance, it's also addressing the emotional needs of the patient," Cook said.
Certainly, cosmetics will not cure any of these women of the terrible diseases they face. But Cook believes programs like this can affect the patient's well being.
"I don’t think there is enough emphasis on a person’s attitude during healing process and how that can affect a person’s prognosis."
If you would like to contribute to programs like "Look Good...Feel Better," consider making a donation to the American Cancer Society.
About Rose Egge
Rose Egge is a community reporter living and working in West Seattle. At age 25, doctors discovered a tumor on her spine and diagnosed her with acute lymphoblastic lymphoma, a rare type of blood cancer. While she is undergoing treatment, Rose will write about her fight against cancer and reporting in the local community.