In celebration of Look Good Feel Better’s 25th year in Canada, we’ve named 25 Heritage Heroes who have either helped the charity make it to 25 inspiring years of helping women and teens with cancer feel like themselves again, or currently play an important role and provide a powerful voice to keep the program alive for years to come.
Each of our 25 Heritage Heroes – one for each year of our program – exemplifies the very essence of Look Good Feel Better’s mission to empower and support women with cancer.
Cindy Kelly, a cancer survivor and 11-year Look Good Feel Better volunteer, meets the very definition of a Heritage Hero.
Diagnosed with an incurable form of cancer 15 years ago, Calgary’s Cindy Kelly has been undergoing chemotherapy treatments ever since.
Doctors discovered her Leiomyosarcoma, a type of cancerous tumour that forms in the soft tissue, in 2003. She attended her first Look Good Feel Better workshop in 2004.
“It gave me the tools I needed to go to my treatments feeling stronger,” said Kelly.
Today she passes on that knowledge to other women as a dedicated Look Good Feel Better volunteer at Foothills Medical Centre.
“It’s something that I feel passionate about,” said Kelly, who’s been volunteering with the charity for 11 years. “You have no control over having cancer, but you have control over how you want people to see you. I wanted to be normal, I wanted to go out in public and not have some body go, ‘Oh poor thing, she has cancer.’ You just want to be able to go and get your groceries.”
“You’ve lost your identity … this program gives you that back.”
With every workshop Kelly leads, she encourages women to not only look good for themselves, but for other women who are newly diagnosed.
“You can empower them by coming in (for chemo) looking strong, looking good and it’ll give them the strength that they need,” she said. “When you’re done, put your lipstick back on and you go out of there strong.”
While Kelly has never been in remission, her lifelong chemotherapy treatments have managed to keep her tumours at bay.
She recently had to put that treatment on hold when she was diagnosed with gall bladder cancer in June. She’s instead undergoing oral chemotherapy for her new diagnosis and hoping it will also maintain her Leiomyosarcoma.
The new treatment has her more fatigued and rundown than usual, but as an experienced survivor, she knows the importance of staying positive.
“You need to have attitude,” said Kelly. “The attitude has so much to do with how we fight our disease. With a positive attitude, you come through the other side much easier.”
“If you have a bad attitude and low self esteem, it just beats you up more. You need strength, you need to be positive.”
While she’s taken some time off from volunteering since her diagnosis, Kelly is set to return next month, so she can continue sharing her inspiring story and message of positivity to help women like her feel like themselves again.