In celebration of Look Good Feel Better’s 25th year in Canada, we’ve named 25 Heritage Heroes who have 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.
Eight-time cancer survivor Dionne Warner is the very definition of a Look Good Feel Better Heritage Hero.
She’s been involved with the charity since its early days – attending her first-ever workshop at Credit Valley Hospital in 1995 after her first breast cancer diagnosis at just 30-years-old.
Since then she’s battled brain cancer, liver cancer and a number of recurrences. She’s currently undergoing oral chemotherapy for four tumours in her liver.
“I didn’t recognize myself in the mirror – that first diagnosis was the hardest one to go through. Losing your hair, your eyebrows,” Dionne recalled. “Look Good Feel Better helped me to find my identity again, to be able to look in the mirror … and to make me feel somewhat human again at the young age of 30.”
While she still uses the tips and tricks she learned at Credit Valley, it was the camaraderie and chance to be around other women facing similar challenges that helped her the most.
“I was just 30-years-old, I didn’t have anybody to talk to. I didn’t know anyone else my age that had cancer,” said Dionne. “I got to meet some other amazing women going through the same thing I was.”
“It gave me that connection, at least someone to talk to.”
She moved to Regina in 2001 with her then fiancé Graham Warner, who is now her husband and an inspiring cancer survivor himself.
Three months after that move she was diagnosed with cancer again, so she signed up for a local workshop.
“I was new to the city … I didn’t know anybody,” she said. “There were many wonderful women at the Regina workshop and I’m friends with some of them still to this day.”
Dionne, now 52, has been raising awareness of Look Good Feel Better since that first workshop more than 20 years ago.
She not only promotes the program to women she meets along the way, but has been involved in publications, ad campaigns and media interviews.
“It’s important for me to let women know that this is available to them,” said Dionne. “The most important thing is the bonding with other women at the workshop, because you have to know that you’re not alone.”
“It’s just so empowering and encouraging. That’s how it made me feel then and it has continued to always do that.”
As Dionne undergoes cancer treatment for the eighth time, she is again experiencing side effects like hair loss, but thanks to her LGFB experience, she knows exactly how to make herself look good and feel better on the bad days.
“I’ve always said to people, ‘Just because you have cancer doesn’t mean you have to look like sh*t,’” she said with a laugh. “You wake up in the morning, you fix yourself up and you feel so much better when you walk out of the house.”
“It makes a world of difference.”