Hospital helping make difference for cancer patients

By Emily Van Zandt Originally Published December 9, 2012 at 12:00 a.m.
Updated December 7, 2012 at 9:44 a.m.
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Bethany Sloan of Studio Salon helps Look Good, Feel Better participant Charlene Kealer with her mascara. The event helps female cancer patients learn about makeup and wigs while dealing with treatment side effects.

— During a fight with cancer, hair and makeup tips may not seem like they’d make a difference to patients. But the staff at White River Medical Center’s Cancer Care Center in Batesville has seen what an impact a day of pampering can mean to a woman in the middle of a cancer battle.

“We’ve had some patients just crying because they finally put on a wig that looked a lot like their original hair,” said Jami Sgotherman, cancer center tumor registrar and Look Good, Feel Better volunteer.

Since 2007, the Cancer Care Center has played host to Look Good, Feel Better, an event and class sponsored by the American Cancer Society. The event, which usually lasts around two hours, includes a makeup and skin-care kit donated by the American Cancer Society, the Personal Care Products Council and the National Cosmetology Association.

“Patients come in, and we usually have a spread of breakfast foods there for them,” Smotherman said. “We watch a video from the American Cancer Society, and then everyone opens up their makeup kits, and the cosmetologists take over.”

Local cosmetologists volunteer their time for the event. Because cancer treatments often take such a toll on women’s hair and skin, the volunteers take the time to explain how to counteract those effects.

“They will go through and show them how to add on eyebrows, since so many women lose those during chemotherapy,” Smotherman said.

Hairstylists also help the participants pick out a wig that works best for them, even pulling out scissors and combs to trim the hairpieces to the right fit. Losing their hair is often a devastating moment for female cancer patients, Smotherman said.

“One patient was so

worried about losing her hair that she called me before she was about to go in to have surgery to ask if we could give her a wig before she went in,” Smotherman said. “You could only see a little bit of the hair under the cap she had to wear when she went in, but it made a difference to her.”

The Look Good, Feel Better program is free and open to female cancer patients of any age. Participants don’t have to be in treatment at White River Medical Center to sign up.

The Look Good, Feel Better event in Batesville is just one of many events held nationally through the American Cancer Society. The program’s website, lookgoodfeelbetter.org, features online beauty guides and video tutorials for patients to access any time. The program has served more than 700,000 women nationwide, according to the American Cancer Society.

Similar events are held throughout the state, including at Baptist Health Medical Center in Heber Springs. Details on other events in Arkansas can be found at lookgoodfeelbetter.org.

Over the years, around 200 women have participated in the events, Smotherman said, which are held quarterly at the hospital. The 2013 Look Good, Feel Better sessions in Batesville will be at 9 a.m. Feb. 11, June 10 and Oct. 14. Those who want to register for one of the sessions may contact Smotherman at (870) 262-6200.

Staff writer Emily Van Zandt can be reached at (501) 399-3688 or evanzandt@arkansasonline.com

Staff Writer Emily Van Zandt can be reached at 501-399-3688 or emily@syncweekly.com.

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