Look Good - Feel Better program works wonders

PLATTSBURGH Local hairdresser/cosmetologist Candy Pollard got her start with the Look Good Feel Better program at the FitzPatrick Cancer Center at CVPH nearly two decades ago when her friend, Barbara Davis, was the coordinator. When Davis retired from that post Pollard and another hairdresser friend, Linda Tousignant of Visual Changes Salon, carried on as program coordinators, offering classes the second Monday of each month at 10 a.m. This is a way to give back to the community that has been so good to me, Pollard said. The feeling it gives her in return is overwhelming, Pollard said. Pollard, who has mourned for relatives that have died from cancer, said it just feels so good to know I can help others. The Feel Good Look Better program was developed in 1989 with the concept that if cancer patients can learn how to make themselves look good during such a trying period that their self-esteem would improve too. In turn, patients who look good will start to feel better and gain the confidence they need to follow through with the treatment. The program provides cancer patients with educational materials and free make-up and personal care products. Pollard added that the local program also has a wig bank and CVPH offers donations of head scarves for those who have lost their hair during treatment. Since its inception, the program created by the Cosmetic, Toiletry and Fragrance Foundation has collaborated with the American Cancer Society and the National Cosmetology Association has helped some 550,000 U.S. patients to look good and feel better. Pollard recalled one particular woman who was distressed when she first came to the program. She was having a real hard time, she was crying because she was afraid that she would wake up one day with no hair left. She was so distraught that she could not even remain focused, she could not even tie a bow, Pollard said. That same woman came back two weeks ago in a better frame of mind. She was looking for a longer style of wig. It was amazing to see the confidence this woman had and how her whole disposition had changed, Pollard said. We teach patients how to apply make-up, how to use an eyebrow pencil, and help them to look their best, she said. Shannon Perrea works with Pollard at Zeinas Salon and Day Spa in Plattsburgh. She too became a volunteer once she heard about the program. I lost both my grandparents to cancer and I have a nephew who has leukemia, she said. I was scared in the beginning, Perrea admitted. But I have learned so much about the (many different types of) the disease, the treatments and medications and the effects they have on the body that I have regained a lot of self-strength. Perrea said she no longer stresses about the small things in life. The best paycheck in the world comes as you walk out that door knowing youve made such a difference in someones life, she said. Perrea explained that many cancer patients go through about eight weeks of hell with reactions to some of the treatments, such as radiation and chemotherapy. But I can give them a little bit of hope, she smiled. There is a light at the end of the tunnel, that is what I tell them.

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