Beauty might only be skin deep, but body image as a cancer sufferer is at the heart of feeling better.
So says Donna Falconer, who today kicks off the first of her Look Good, Feel Better workshops for 2005.
While Ms Falconer has been giving skin, hair and make-up tips to female cancer sufferers in Dubbo for seven years, she hopes to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the program nationally by extending them to men.
“In the next couple of weeks I plan to start training the existing girls to run the men’s workshops,” she said.
While the emphasis of the two-hour session is on grooming – skincare, cosmetics and hair – Ms Falconer says the benefits are more far-reaching.
“The women are very apprehensive when they first arrive but by the end of the day they’re always happy and laughing,” she said.
“I think one of the greatest benefits is them being able to meet other women, to know they’re not the only person going through it.”
The course has grown since it began in 1998, she says, with six classes a year now instead of four.
“I think there’s a real need for it,” Ms Falconer said.
“You get goose-bumps at the end of the day at some of the hard luck stories you hear.
“But to be able to make women feel better about their bodies and
attractive again, at a time of often very low self-esteem, is wonderful.
“I think one of the best things for them is feeling that they are being given some control back.”
The course also covers how to tackle hair loss and its effects on appearance, creative things to do with hats, turbans, wigs and scarves and how to cope with changes in skin texture and appearance.
The women – all of whom must be currently undergoing radiation or chemotherapy – are taught by
professionals in the cosmetics and hairdressing industry and are shown “hands-on” skills to take home.
They also receive a pack of cosmetics valued at about $300.
The best reward, though, is “being able to feel like a woman again,” Ms Falconer says.
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