Heritage Heroes: Meet our inspiring 2...


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Heritage Heroes: Meet our inspiring 25-year volunteers

Sept. 15, 2017 | by Larissa Cahute

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.

We wouldn't have made it to this milestone without our dedicated volunteers - and these nine women have been supporting the cause since Day One.

Meet Joan, Jeannette, Susan, Cindy, Marilyn, Joanne, Maria, Erika and Mary - our 25-year volunteers and Look Good Feel Better Heritage Heroes.

Joan Michetti

Montreal, QC

Q: What is it that made you become a volunteer with Look Good Feel Better 25 years ago?

After Look Good Feel Better launched in Toronto in September 1992, I offered to help start one in Montreal. My LGFB volunteer career started with that offer – after attending the first-ever Montreal workshop at the Canadian Cancer Society Lodge in November 1992.

I then became Team Leader at the Jewish General Hospital - (as time went on, I also led teams at the Montreal General and Royal Victoria Hospitals and in later years organized Teen Workshops at Montreal Children's and Ste. Justine Hospitals).

I was hooked from day one – I remember feeling very nervous and unsure of myself walking into that first workshop, asking myself how I was going to handle my emotions. From that very first workshop, until today, I know that giving of my time and sharing my skills does indeed help workshop participants regain a sense of the woman they were before cancer. It is an honour and privilege to volunteer with this worthwhile program that has helped so many women during a difficult time in their lives.

LGFB has given me the opportunity to give something back to the community while doing something I enjoy.

Like other volunteers with this amazing program, we often feel we get back more than we give.

 

Q: What is your favourite workshop moment?

I recall a woman who arrived saying her appearance had changed so much that she could no longer look at herself in a mirror – she was unhappy and said she felt/looked like an alien.

She covered all the mirrors in her house because it was too difficult to look at herself.

She left the workshop feeling very good about the way she looked and confident that she could continue at home.

The next day she called to let us know that because she'd learned so much in our workshop, she actually went home and uncovered all her mirrors because she now felt happy with the way she looked – no longer like an alien but herself.

 

Jeannette Valmont

Montreal, QC

Q: What is it that made you become a volunteer with Look Good Feel Better 25 years ago?

Thirty-five years ago, I became a volunteer with Hope & Cope, a cancer support group at the Jewish General Hospital in Montreal. 

During those years, I have had 4 failed back surgeries, a serious auto-immune disease and thyroid cancer.

All of these diseases have caused serious physical limitations and a lot of appearance-related side effects.  Appearance has always been of great importance to me.

Twenty-five years ago, I was invited to an information session on  a new program called Look Good Feel Better, which was starting here in Montreal. There are no words to explain my joy of being part of a program, which finally addresses the devastating appearance-related effects of cancer and its treatment.

Together with Joan Michetti, we held the first workshop at the Jewish General Hospital in Montreal. 

I have remained involved because this program remains rewarding, validating and one of the most important gifts one can give to a woman facing cancer.

 

Q: What is your favourite workshop moment?

I don't have one favorite moment, but immense happiness to see that we can offer this gift to women who would never have been able to dream of owning  such beautiful products, getting expert tips and wonderful warmth and support.

I don't intend to leave LGFB and I hope that LGFB isn't going anywhere either.

 

Susan Kirsch

Toronto, Ont.

Q: What is it that made you become a volunteer with Look Good Feel Better 25 years ago?

Look Good Feel Better gave me the opportunity to share my love for makeup artistry by creating an environment whereby I could use my expertise to help heal cancer patients, reduce their fears of the physical changes and appreciate that they did not have to look as sick as they felt.

I LOVED helping women feel better about themselves.

I was 33-years-old, working and raising a young family, it became my way of showing my children, by example, that it is a gift to give back.

Every year, I learned from my Tuesday night participants what they felt like going through their cancer treatment.

They taught me just as much as what I was able to share with them.

The program itself included all the materials I would need to better cancer patients' everyday life, and I always had a supportive team, with both the on site volunteer as well as my fellow LGFB volunteers.

I looked forward to sharing Tuesday nights with everyone, twenty five years just seemed to go by quickly.

 

Q: What is your favourite workshop moment?

One Tuesday night we had a mother and daughter going through treatment at the same time. The reality of seeing them support each other made me want to make that workshop the best experience for us all.

Life can be so unfair, I was determined to push this thought from my head.

When they were smiling and laughing, looking so very healthy, I felt I had made a difference.

Mother and daughter now enjoyed a special cancer experience, a workshop that was positive, supportive, healing and very beautiful. 

 

Cindy Buim

Toronto, Ont.

Q: What is it that made you become a volunteer with Look Good Feel Better 25 years ago?

I’m an esthetician and very close friends with Susan Kirsch, another 25 year volunteer. When she got involved she invited me along and there was no looking back!

As soon as I heard about the program I just thought it was an exceptional thing to be able to offer to women and be a part of. Just the satisfaction of seeing what role the workshop plays in women’s lives and every month, sometimes twice a month, you leave the workshop just so happy for these women.

To be able to volunteer and see immediate results is very, very special.

 

Q: What is your favourite workshop moment?

There are so many of course in 25 years, but a recent moment comes to mind for me.

I haven’t had the opportunity to work with many teens, but this year at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, there was a young woman who was in from another province for treatment in Toronto. I think she was 18.

She was so shy and wasn’t speaking very much at first, but about a half hour into the workshop she was just a different personality –  just opened up, smiling, happy, excited, loving the makeup application.

There are just so many of those moments – daughters with mothers, mothers with daughters, girlfriends, etc.

 

Marilyn Cohen

Toronto, Ont.

Q: What is it that made you become a volunteer with Look Good Feel Better 25 years ago?

I had been volunteering in the Cancer Clinic for about six years prior to the beginning of LGFB, so witnessed the devastation the treatments brought to the patients. 

I welcomed the program when I learned of it.  The transformations we saw after the sessions were amazing.

 

Q: What is your favourite workshop moment?

One lady had been reluctant to attend a workshop, according to her daughter, so cancelled several times. 

When the workshop was almost over, she announced, "Today I do not have cancer, I am a real person." 

Comments like that make it all worthwhile.

 

Joanne Davison Shaw

Barrie, Ont.

Q: What is it that made you become a volunteer with Look Good Feel Better 25 years ago?

There was no one really looking after the cancer patients with their hair loss, so I just felt there was a real need for the program.

It’s been wonderful to watch it snowball and grow in Canada. I’ve continued doing it for the past 25 years because I just love it. I love watching the women come in, they might be a little down at first, but once they leave they are hugely excited.

I love seeing their smiles and hearing them talk about making dinner plans!

 

Q: What is your favourite workshop moment?

I think the one woman who stands out the most for me was a vibrant woman in her 50s who was so impacted by the workshop that she wanted to get involved, so I ended up being in a magazine shoot with her! 

She stands out to me as being, really, an inspiration.

She was a bit sad when she came in, but then started to be vibrant and excited and smile.

I remember her very much, because she taught me that this volunteer position was the perfect fit for me.

I knew right then and there that I was going to be volunteering for years to come!

 

Maria Bennett 

Peterborough, Ont.

Q: What is it that made you become a volunteer with Look Good Feel Better 25 years ago?

I was new to Mary Kay at the time, but the community quickly became a sisterhood, so when the opportunity to start the program in Canada arose, it was something we all decided to do together.

We wanted to help women look and feel better.

I volunteered at my first workshop in Scarborough, then helped to bring the program to Oshawa as well as a few other regions.

Even though I live in Lindsay now, I truly don’t mind the hour drive to my workshop location, because I want to continue helping these women.

I know how they come into the workshop as opposed to how they are when they leave and that transformation is so enriching – Look Good Feel Better helps so many women and I just want to continue be a part of that.

 

Q: What is your favourite workshop moment?

They’ve all been fabulous, but the one I immediately think of is one of my first-ever workshops in Scarborough 25 years ago.

A woman was sitting there telling her story about how she detected a spot under her arm, went through the process of getting tests and biopsies – it was as if she was telling my story, because I had gone through the exact same process, only my test results were negative. Hers wasn’t.

This woman was talking about it with no hair on her head and going through treatment, and I thought, “Oh my god, that could have been me.”

That was one of the first workshops I ever volunteered at and it solidified why I signed on to become a volunteer – to help women with cancer look and feel better during such a hard time in their lives. At one point or another, this could be any one of us.

 

Erika Carroll

Mississauga, Ont.

Q: What is it that made you become a volunteer with Look Good Feel Better 25 years ago?

Being passionate at the retail level, I loved helping my colleagues and customers in every way.  

Hearing of the newly formed industry charity LGFB needing volunteers, I was proud to connect my career and my expertise helping women dealing with their cancer-related effects. 

To this day, I feel very proud to be associated with LGFB, and grateful to be part of the uplifting experience shared by so many women.

 

Q: What is your favourite workshop moment?

After 25 years, what stands out for me each and every time, is the many compliments these women will give each other as they begin seeing and feeling, the positive difference that a Look Good Feel Better workshop has had on them all.

 

Mary Nadalin 

Toronto, Ont.

Q: What is it that made you become a volunteer with Look Good Feel Better 25 years ago?

I joined LGFB at the very beginning becuase I believe - and still do - that it is a very worthwhile cause where we can help women of all ages lessen their suffering caused by cancer. 

 

Q: What is your favourite workshop moment?

Every workshop has had its special moments. 

We meet women of great courage that support and encourage each other to regain confidence and strength, making new friends and leaving with a smile.

It has been a privilege to be with  these women and also to work with the many wonderful dedicated team of LGFB volunteers

 

 

 


Heritage Heroes





Larissa Cahute

Look Good Feel Better


I’m a Communication Associate with Look Good Feel Better. As a former journalist, I believe that everyone has a story worth telling – and that’s what I’m here for: to share the inspiring stories of those I meet through LGFB.





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