Made Over and Fabulous: Nothing's Better Than Looking Good During Chemo

The Makeover That Changed My Life

Me after my "Look Good...Feel Better" workshop makeover on May 23, 2011.
Me after my "Look Good...Feel Better" workshop makeover on May 23, 2011. | Source
Me after my "Look Good...Feel Better" workshop makeover on May 23, 2011.
Me after my "Look Good...Feel Better" workshop makeover on May 23, 2011. | Source
Me after my "Look Good...Feel Better" workshop makeover on May 23, 2011.
Me after my "Look Good...Feel Better" workshop makeover on May 23, 2011. | Source

This Workshop is a Must for the Chemo Challenged


It was a beautiful day, about 75 degrees, not too cold and not too hot. When I woke up at around 6:00 a.m., despite its perfection, I still felt a little nervous because I was starting my neupogen shots at the "Ambulatory Treatment Center" (ATC) at Kaiser-Permanente and I was also finally attending the "Look Good...Feel Better" workshop at 2:00 p.m. in the Renal Conference Room after countless cancelations due to health problems, scheduling conflicts and lack of transportation. I had just resumed chemo on May 20, so the class I decided to take on May 23, was more adequately timed.

To ease my nerves, and get the most out of the class, I put together an outfit to go with the reddish-brown wig I was required to bring. I wanted my outfit to look as though I'd coordinated everything at the same time so I chose a brown and white polka-dotted skirt, a beige polka-dotted tie-back blouse, a striped velvet blazer and a peach vintage 1920s print scarf tied in a bow around my neck. When I tried it on in front my floor-length mirror, at home, the colors blended and made me feel calmer so I knew it was appropriate.

The workshop was arranged in front of a series of conference tables with chairs for the participants. Another long table was set up behind the seating area with our red bags of complimentary beauty products inside. A representative from the "American Cancer Society" was stationed there to ask what "shade" we were before handing u our bag. Mine said "Medium" and I got beauty prducts that complimented and enhanced my skin, such as "Mary Kay Full Coverage foundation," "Physician's Formula Warm Beige Concealer Pencil," and "American Beauty Beloved Rose Powder Blush."

The volunteers, who instructed and helped us with our makeovers, were professionals who were thoroughly experienced about application. They greeted us when we came in and were very supportive throughout our two hours there. After we listened to the introduction by the "ACS" rep we looked at a short video on the process we were about to to undergo. Then the official makeover session began. First we all cleaned our faces with sanitary wipes in front of the small plastic makeup mirrors they provided us with. Next we applied moisturizer then eye cream. I got "Clinique dramatically different moisturizing lotion" and "Dove pro-age eye cream," in my sample bag, which I put on with my fingertips. "Being gentle while doing our beauty regiment" was definitely a tip the instructor wanted to pass onto us since chemo makes one's skin so sensitive.

After preparing our faces with moisturizer and eye cream we moved on to foundation. I was surprised, during the demonstration, that I'd been applying mine wrong all these years. Utilizing professional techniques, the instructor used the back of his hand as a palette, applied dots of foundation to a "volunteer" participant's face, then rapidly "feathered" it on starting with the bottom and working up to the forehead and hairline.

Usually when someone asks me to be a "model" I feel hesitant, but when the "Look Good...Feel Better" instructor asked me to come up to demonstrate on, I felt good about it. I was used for the blush and lip presentations, and learned that "fair skin, like mine, just needs a light dusting of blush on the apple of my cheeks and I should smile when applying it as well as my lipliner and gloss." One of the problems I have is with my eyebrows, but after the way the instructor showed us how to "dot and shade" on eyebrows with the proper tools I felt more confident. I got a "Rimmel Professional Eyebrow Pencil" in my bag, which had a little brush on the end for blending, making it easier.

"You can also blend your brows more with the q-tips we gave you for a more natural look," said the instructor.

To finish up our faces we stroked on our eyeshadow, eyeliner, mascara, blush, then painted on our lip color. My eyeshadow was a really pretty plum, "Aveda Petal Essence Single Eye Color", my eyeliner was "Rimmel Soft Kohl," and my mascara was "Almay black noir one coat moisturizing mascara." Now it was time for "hair." The instructor borrowed one of the students again and took a large white t-shirt he'd brought and cut it up to make the elaborate head wrap he tied around her head.

"With all of the bright colors coming out for Summer you could go to "Target" and buy a hot pink or turquoise t-shirt and cut it up then turn it into a tropical head wrap that will be really stylish and keep your head cool at the same time," he said.

The next student he brought up to demonstrate on how to wear a shoulder-length shag and a shorter style wig was absolutely transformed after he put them on. I saw her a little later in the week, at Kaiser, wearing the shag wig and a beautiful green and white skirt ensemble that made her look fresh and healthy. She was pleasantly unrecognizable as the woman I saw at the beginning of the workshop and it was obvious she'd gotten a lot out of it.

Finally it was my turn to bring up my wig from "Revlon." I got it from the "American Cancer Society" before my first chemotherapy treatment last year. My mother and grandmother accompanied me to my wig selection and fitting for emotional support and advice. It's not really how my hair looks but everyone's convinced me it's very flattering. I finally agreed with them once the instructor put it on properly and the class broke out into applause and cheers over my transformation.

Now I was ready to confront the world and not let my struggles with chemo show no matter how much they frustrated me and made me want to give up and just go out of the house looking any old way. Looking good definitely made me feel better and glad that I do make the effort.

For more information about the workshop visit www.lookgoodfeelbetter.org.

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