This past week Amy and I went to a cancer workshop called "Look Good Feel Better" run by volunteers at the oncology wing of the Moncton hospital. It's a nationwide program and also had workshops in Truro and Halifax but Moncton was the most convenient for both of us and they let me go even though I have nothing to do with the Moncton hospital.
The mission statement of the workshop is: "We believe that if a woman with cancer can be helped to look good,
chances are she’ll feel better, her spirits will be lifted and she’ll be
empowered to face her illness with greater confidence. We like to call
it a 'makeover for the spirit'." Taken from their website. It's basically about how much better you'll feel about the fact that you have cancer if you throw some makeup on.
As I generally try to avoid anything that swears it will empower me to somehow become a better person, I was quite skeptical about the entire thing but was lured in with the promise of free makeup. Amy signed us up and we thought that Amy was going to get a free makeup kit too but it turns out that they're only for those with cancer which was a bit annoying. Amy was stuck watching me get a little make over and listened to how to take care of her skin while undergoing chemotherapy. I'm sure it was very exciting for her.
That aside, overall, the workshop was better than I had anticipated. There were only three of us with cancer and about ten volunteers which seemed a bit of an overkill. I guess everyone wants to make women with cancer feel better. I thought that two hours was going to drag on but by the time they walked everyone through the makeup kits, we had some tea and cookies, and then talked about wigs for awhile, the time was up.
I did find the make up part of the workshop to be a bit much for me. While, as someone who doesn't usually wear a lot of makeup and doesn't know what to do with it all, it was nice to be walked through what to do with the random creams and powders, I thought it was a bit extreme when one of the volunteers declared that 'the only way to feel good about ones' self is with makeup.' I mean, sure, being made up can help you feel better about your outward appearance but I hope that it's not the only way people feel good about themselves. Even if they don't have cancer.
After the makeup part and the snack break, they brought out a bunch of different wigs for people to try on and talk about wig care. One of the women was only undergoing radiation so didn't have any hairloss, I imagine the wig speil was very boring for her. The other woman and I chatted about what it was like to lose our hair. The other woman seemed much more traumatized about it than I feel. Don't get me wrong, I freaked out when my hair was falling out. But now that it's almost all fallen out, it doesn't bother me. The only bother is that my head sometimes gets cold. I think the different reaction may be because she had very long hair originally whereas I've had short haircuts so am a bit more use to looking at myself with less hair - clearly having no hair isn't the same but it's not as big of a change. Or maybe I just don't have the energy to freak out over not having hair anymore.
I learned in the workshop that when it comes to buying a wig, I did basically everything wrong. Turns out that they don't recommend you just buy some from etsy. They feel as though going to a professional wig place and having the wigs properly sized is important. The woman running this part was very clear in the importance of a properly sized wig and did not approve of my etsy-buying ways. She was also very against taking a wig to any hairdresser and say that only wig hairdressers can cut wigs. I'm not too sure about this seeing as every hairdresser starts off by practicing on wigs so they should know what they're doing. The other women use to be a hairdresser and had cut her own wig and got a big pointless lecture about how she shouldn't have done that. Maybe she could skip lecturing the woman with cancer about cutting her own wig (which looked fine) next time.
Even though I learned that I had been destroying my eyelashes with my waterproof mascara, doing everything wrong with my wigs, and not changing my toothbrush often enough, it was nice to simply have a conversation with someone also going through intensive chemotherapy. The Halifax team has me isolated during my treatments there so I haven't been able to chat to anyone. I didn't realize this was something I was missing until after the workshop and I realized how nice it was to simply vent a bit to someone who intimately knew what I meant.
I have the same thing a bit but to a lesser degree when it comes to CF woes as I have Amy to complain to. I've also met a few people online but as the CF medical professionals strongly recommend that everyone avoid each other like the plague they aren't about to hold a 'Look Good Feel Better' workshop for women with CF. Even though that would probably be an amazing workshop. They could cover how to cover up baggy eyes after coughing all night, how to get pants to fit after weight loss, or the best meal combinations to make with hospital food.
All in all, I'm glad Amy signed me up for the workshop. I learned a few things, met some other women with cancer, and did get a ton of free makeup. I'm now a makeup person, apparently. I'm choosing to ignore the part of the workshop where the companies who donated
the sampler makeup want all these women to become hooked on their
products as they're considered 'chemotherapy safe' and buy it after the
sample runs out. Oh look, my cynical side is showing again.