By Shawna Potje
I have never been one to wear much makeup. In fact, I could probably count on one hand the number of times I have. So, when the suggestion was made to consider attending the Look Good Feel Better Workshop I initially brushed oﬀ the idea. I was in a bit of denial about the changes ahead. I didn’t normally wear makeup, why start now?
With coaxing from my very persistent mother, I decided to give the Look Good Feel Better program a try. My main goal was to minimize how sick I looked so that others, especially my children, would be more comfortable around me. I figured even if the makeup segment of the workshop didn’t turn out well it would be an entertaining afternoon with my cheerleader mom who had agreed to come along to take notes.
My session was hosted at the Royal Victoria Cancer Care Centre, a wonderful facility that has come to feel like a second home to me. I was immediately welcomed by an energetic crew of pink aproned ladies who ushered us in to a meeting room with a series of tables put together to make a ‘u’ shape - all adorned with mirrors and purple makeup cases.
This was the first time I had been in a room with a group of other women with cancer. Although cancer is a club you wish nobody needed to join, it was reassuring to see people so positive at various stages of their experience. Beside me sat a woman with no hair who was radiantly smiling and looking beautiful. I began to realize that this event was not about looking good by someone else’s standard but about and feeling comfortable in your own skin. I immediately felt it was going to be okay.
After a brief introduction, we were all invited to open the purple makeup cases and learn about each of the generously donated products that were ours to keep. The first part of the instructions focused on skincare, which later became helpful for me once the eﬀects of chemotherapy set in.
To my relief, each person was assigned a volunteer to support us through the process. Mine was a lovely, young woman whose regular job was as a makeup artist. I quickly confessed that she had her work cut out for her, since I was clueless when it came to makeup. She patiently repeated instructions and guided me through each step, oﬀering little tips and touch-ups along the way. When she recognized that the hot pink lipstick was a little outside my comfort zone, she demonstrated the same technique with a more neutral coloured lip gloss. After our makeup was done, we moved on to learn about options for hair loss and had a general discussion about other available community supports.
What it means to look good is very individual concept. I did not go into this workshop hoping to come out of it looking like a Barbie doll or someone else’s idea of beautiful. I went to this workshop when I was tired, overwhelmed and not feeling like I had much control over my body. I was welcomed by a community of caring individuals who took the time out of their day to share their passion and expertise to make my experience easier. I must admit, although I have made good use of the skin care products, I still do not wear the makeup daily. However, it is nice to know that I can do so confidently when I choose.
This workshop definitely made me feel better. I highly recommend the Look Good Feel Better program to all women experiencing cancer.