Makeup workshops help women cope with cancer

BY Lauren Wanko, Correspondent |

Joyce gets her wig styled. Later, other women learn how to pencil eyebrows over their bare skin. It’s not your typical hair and makeup lesson.

Port Monmouth resident Janice Lynch was diagnosed with breast cancer in June.

“It’s been a traumatic year for me and I just need all the support I can get at this point,” she said. “Seems like since I’ve been doing the chemo I’ve aged 5 to 10 years.”

She decided to sign up for a Look Good Feel Better workshop. It’s a free service for people undergoing cancer treatment to help them cope with the appearance side effects that may result from treatment, like changes in skin texture and tone and hair loss.

“A study we did with Harris Interactive, one of those data points told us about one-third of women who were undergoing cancer treatment who had not sought assistance with their appearance side effects were so uncomfortable with their appearance that they didn’t want to leave their home,” said Louanne Roark, executive director of the Look Good Feel Better Foundation.

It’s something Joyce understands, she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer.

“When it starts affecting your face, you don’t want to go out and you just get depressed and you go, this isn’t worth it. But this is just phenomenal,” she said.

All the participants are given a makeup kit full of new products donated by the beauty industry. Inside are things like concealer, foundation, moisturizers, eyebrow pencils, lipstick and more, and the participants get to take the bags home with them.

Licensed beauty professionals volunteer to conduct the two-hour workshops. At one workshop, cancer survivor Maria Siniscalichi visited with women at CentraState Healthcare System.

“It’s so much more than just makeup,” said Siniscalichi.

“I like to call it a magical moment for women. It’s sometimes the first time that they come together with other women who are also undergoing cancer treatment and having similar experiences,” said Roark.

Launched in 1989, the program has reached nearly 2 million people in 26 countries. It’s a collaboration of the Look Good Feel Better Foundation and the Professional Beauty Association.

“This is great. This is like saying, ‘Hey, you know you’re alive. You can do this,'” said Lynch.

At the end of workshop, Lynch takes in her new look.

“Very rejuvenating. I really love it,” she said.

“When you’re all done, and you look at the overall, you stand back and look in the mirror and you’re looking at the overall look and you just tend to maybe stand a little taller and your smile is a little brighter after the class,” said Siniscalichi.