Fifteen years ago, Aida was 30 years old, with a 6-month-old son and had just been diagnosed with cancer.
The diagnosis of Hodgkin’s lymphoma was devastating. Having a new baby at home and learning to navigate life as a new mother as well as a cancer patient was the hardest thing Aida had ever done. As much as the treatment was physically and mentally taking its toll, she was surprised to find another thing weighing on her – the changes to her appearance.
“Society underestimates the emotional upheaval that cancer has on women as they experience changes to their appearance because of treatment. In a way, losing your hair and having your reflection change right in front of you feels like you lose your mark as a person, and the outward things that make you, you.”
A friend of Aida’s who had been through treatment herself, told her that there was no shame in having these concerns, and that there was a resource available to help women experiencing exactly this – a program called Look Good Feel Better.
“She said it was a pleasant afternoon of pampering and makeup… it sounded nice. I was pretty much up to try anything to help, even though I didn’t know what to expect.”
Despite her hesitancy, Aida arrived at the workshop and was quickly asked if she would be comfortable volunteering as the session’s model, where a LGFB volunteer would demonstrate the techniques on one side of her face, as she practiced the techniques herself on the other.
As the next few hours unfolded with the other participants and volunteers, Aida felt a weight being lifted.
“I am being completely honest when I say that I felt the prettiest that day that I EVER had before in my life. It made me really, truly feel good. It made me forget what I was going through - and once I was reminded again, I felt prepared to handle it. It gave me power.”
Now, fifteen years later and cancer-free, Aida’s experience at the Look Good Feel Better workshop has stayed with her. She’s shared the resource with many other women in her life and is now a champion for the cause.
Aida works for Apotex, a generic drug manufacturer headquartered in Toronto. The company’s purpose is to improve access to medicines for millions of patients worldwide by providing affordable, innovative and high-quality solutions. Aida may have a personal connection to Look Good Feel Better, but the cause is supported at the highest levels of the organization.
Last year, Apotex had their first ever #WINKDay fundraiser in support of LGFB, where employees participated in festivities for the day, dressing in purple and sharing their WINKs to support the women in their lives. Aida shared her story and her peers were quick to rally around her.
This year, the company plans to go even bigger with their support. Apotex President and CEO, Jeff Watson, is the executive sponsor of all #WINKDay fundraising activities at the Apotex offices, which includes photo booths and makeup artists to create purple #WINKDay eye-looks and more!
Sandra Tomassini, Vice President of New Product Launch at Apotex will be sharing her experience of the LGFB impact, as her fourteen-year-old daughter attended a LGFB workshop at SickKids this February. Sophia and her sister attended the workshop together and Sandra explains that while Sophia was struggling with losing her hair, the workshop helped her feel like herself again.
“As a mom who has experienced the cancer journey, I can’t stress enough how helpful LGFB was to my daughter and our family. On WINK Day, I encourage you all to wink, take a selfie and post it to show your support. I will be winking for Sophia!”
On June 13th, for every #WINKDay post the Shoppers Drug Mart SHOPPERS. LOVE. YOU. program will donate $5 to Look Good Feel Better (up to $50,000), to help women and teens with cancer feel like themselves again.
New this year, Cosmetics Alliance Canada will be matching all donations made through employee fundraising initiatives (up to $25,000) – so the fundraising efforts of employees of companies like Apotex will have double the impact!
Join us this Thursday, June 13th as we WINK for the women we love.
Learn more about #WINKDay and how to get involved: lgfb.ca/en/get-involved/wink-day/