It's not something that any of us like to think about, but the fact is that most of us will know or will have known someone who has been diagnosed with cancer at some stage of their life, assuming we don't have the misfortune of experiencing the disease first hand.
The treatment itself for cancer is an ordeal for anybody that is both distressing and exhausting - It can leave cancer patients with lowered self-esteem and feeling a lack of confidence due to the adverse effects on their appearance.
Commonly, the skin changes in appearance - it may appear pinkier and feeling sensitive through radiation treatment, or pale and sallow with an uneven tone from chemo-therapy. Hair loss is also common, which of course is often especially difficult for women to come to terms with.
It was 13 years ago that the 'Look Good, Feel Better' initiative was established to help women to re-gain some of the confidence lost through dealing with cancer. The scheme offers makeovers and the opportunity for women to participate in small group workshops where they are taught how they can best look after their appearance and enhance themselves in order to make the most of how they look. Expert advice and guidance is given by beauty therapists who have been trained especially to work with cancer patients and the related effects of the disease and treatments.
As well as the physical aspect of these classes, it also provides the opportunity for socialising and meeting others who may be going through the same kinds of experience through dealing with cancer, which can be a real morale boost.
After the make-up & skincare lessons, participants are given all of the kit they will need in order to recreate everything they've been shown and to continue to keep up and maintain their new look. The women are also helped to find practical ways of dealing with hair-loss.
So far, 45,000 women have been reached over the past 13 years that the scheme has been running. Sadly, there doesn't seem to be any signs of the numbers of cancer diagnoses decreasing.
All of the specially trained beauty therapists that lead the sessions are volunteers who have given up their own time to make a difference to women's lives at a time when they truly deserve some pampering and support from others.
If you feel that you would like to help make a big difference in the lives of others dealing with the rigours of cancer and you are fully qualified beauty therapist, then you may be able to join the LGFB team. The scheme is continually looking to reach more women in more locations that could really benefit from your expertise.
Even of you are unable to offer help in a hands-on approach, then you may choose to show your support by becoming a friend of the 'Look Good, Feel Better' scheme.
There you will find many different ideas of how to help raise funds & awareness for the organisation or subscribe to their magazine to keep up with their progress.
Experts in hospitals have been really surprised at the improvement they've witnessed in the women who have taken part in the workshops. The benefits are obvious and they can only praise the work of the beauty therapists that volunteer to help give cancer patients a more positive attitude and the confidence and ability to continue enjoying life.
© Karen Warrington