Sunday, February 23, 2014

Local volunteers facilitate Look Good Feel Better program - By Elizabeth Richards

The third Monday of every month offers female cancer patients in the Sebago Lakes region an opportunity to come together for a free one-time beauty consultation through the Look Good Feel Better Program. 
The program, sponsored by the American Cancer Society, The Personal Care Products Council, and the Professional Beauty Association/National Cosmetology Association, is intended to help address the appearance related side effects associated with cancer treatments said Elisa Madore, specialist. Mission Delivery, for the New England Division of the American Cancer Society. The sessions are led by a licensed cosmetologist or aesthetician.

The sessions in Windham are led by local volunteers Debra McLaine and Christine Reardon. The group sessions provide practical tips and techniques on skin care, cosmetic application, and how to use wigs, scarves or other accessories. 

McLaine started volunteering with the program several years ago. Cancer runs in her family, she said, and she has lost grandparents and her father to the disease. Her mother has also battled breast cancer. After watching her family members battle the disease, McLaine decided she wanted to get involved. “I really felt like I wanted to do something more,” she said.  “Being a licensed cosmetologist and aesthetician has enabled me to be a part of this program that I am very passionate about.”

McLaine was first involved with Look Good Feel Better in Portland, but it occurred to her that it was a really long drive for people who lived in the Sebago Lakes region where she lives. She asked about providing a session in Windham, and was told that if she could find a space to do it in, she was welcome to do so. The North Windham Union Church offered space, and the program took off.

In Portland, the classes were a lot larger than the turnout has been in Windham, said McLaine. Often, she said, they end up with only one or two participants, and sometimes they can go months without having anyone at all. While a small group is nice, said McLaine, allowing for personal attention, both she and Reardon said they would like to see more people participate.

Reardon said she had heard of the program through clients and her work, and decided to get involved about four years ago. “It’s an inspiring program,” she said. “You get to be with the women at their lowest point, and help them feel better about themselves.”  Participants are very appreciative, she said, and she feels the program really makes a difference in their lives.

McLaine agreed. “Women do really love to feel great,” she said. The loss of brows and lashes, in addition to the hair on the head, can be devastating, she said. The techniques and tips they provide can help these women feel their best. “We try to give them options,” said McLaine, from skin care and makeup application, to wig setting or the creative use of scarves or headwraps. 

“It is so wonderful when I see people leave feeling so good. I think that it actually makes me feel better than the women who come, sometimes. It feels really good,” McLaine said.

Sessions are offered on the third Monday of every month, from 2 to 4 p.m. at the North Windham Union Church at 723 Roosevelt Trail in Windham. Along with tips and practical information during the session, participants receive a complimentary cosmetic kit. Pre-registration for a session is required. To register for a Look Good Feel Better session in Windham, please contact Dan Del Rossi at the American Cancer Society by calling at 207-373-3737.

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