Cancer Patients can “Look Good…Feel Better”
Elaine Stoffel, a resident of Institute who was diagnosed with cancer a few weeks ago, got the royal treatment Sept. 27, when she attended a Look Good…Feel Better session at Door County Memorial Hospital.
The program is sponsored by the American Cancer Society (ACS) to help patients brighten their appearance and lift their spirits. On the last Monday of each month, specially certified cosmetologists provide beauty consultations at the hospital.
Each client receives a bag of makeup and other beauty products from major companies like Lancome, Mary Kay and Avon that donate them for distribution by ACS. Each bag is prepared for specific complexions, ranging from light to very dark. Elaine’s bag included 21 items.
The program in Sturgeon Bay was started about 15 years ago by Carol Felhofer, then a hospital employee. She says that involvement in the program is rewarding for the professionals involved, as well as the patients.
“When a person is first diagnosed with cancer, they often feel so lost,” she says. “Coming to Look Good… Feel Better means they have again taken control of something in their life.”
Carol still assists Cheryl Wilke, a hospital receptionist and the new program coordinator, with the last-Monday sessions, which are offered from 1 – 3 pm in even-numbered months and from 6 – 8 pm in odd-numbered months.
Along with tips and demonstrations on makeup and skin care, patients are also offered wigs and a variety of hand-made hats and caps donated by volunteers like Judie Gauger, herself a cancer survivor, and Sheila Koessl, a cosmetologist who works with the program. Sheila and Geri Niedzwiecki were among the first cosmetologists certified by Look Good…Feel Better.
The wigs, mostly brand-new, are all professionally styled. Clients may choose several and are free to have them cut to any length they like. Although Elaine is hoping not to lose her hair and did not plan to take a wig, she changed her mind when stylist Linda Schopf found one that matched her natural hair color and was “not too curly.” Patients whose hair grows back may keep their wigs for “bad hair” days or return them to the program to be professionally cleaned and styled for use by others. Community residents who have wigs they no longer use are invited to drop them off at the oncology wing of the hospital.
There is no charge for any of the services provided by the Look Good…Feel Better program, which is designed to help cancer patients cope with the unpleasant side effects of treatment such as dry, blotchy skin, discolored fingernails and the loss of hair, eyelashes and eyebrows. The sessions do not dwell on the patient’s diagnosis, but on the fact that most of the side effects are temporary and that when a patient looks better, she’ll also feel better.
Although Elaine was the only patient at the Sept. 27 session, several women usually attend. They may share thoughts on how they’re handling their treatment, turning it into a kind of spontaneous group therapy. Patients often ask a friend, sister or daughter to accompany them to the session. Elaine brought her friend, Donna Nicholson, for moral support. Elaine admits she had reservations about going to the session, but says, “I’m so glad I went. It was very informative and enjoyable.”
The program is also open to men and teenagers. For more information or to make a reservation for the 1 – 3 pm session on Oct. 25, call Cheryl Wilke at 920.559.9492 or Carol Felhofer at 920.743.4104.
Look Good…Feel Better Training Session
In the 15 or so years since the Look Good…Feel Better program was begun in Sturgeon Bay, hundreds of cancer patients have been given not only makeup consultations and free wigs and caps, but also a lift to their self-image and self-esteem during a difficult time in their lives. Dozens of local cosmetologists have volunteered their time for the sessions on the last Monday of each month.
New recruits are always needed, and the next certification/recertification class will be from 9:30 am – 1:30 pm on Monday, Dec. 6, at Crossroads at Big Creek, 2041
Michigan Street in Sturgeon Bay. Training, good for two-year certification, is provided by the American Cancer Society. For more information or to register for the Dec. 6 class, call Cheryl Wilke at 920.559.9492 or Carol Felhofer at 920.743.4104.