The setup is simple — a conference room table with mirrors, bags of cosmetics, and clusters of wigs, hats, jewelry and scarves.
But the goal of the Look Good … Feel Better program is more than skin deep. The free workshop aims to boost spirits as well as outward appearance.
“Basically the women get together, and they get to socialize and laugh,” said Stella Turrubiate, University of Texas Medical Branch oncology nurse who has worked with the program four years. “Sometimes, you don’t get to see that side of them because we’re always talking about medical stuff.
“But here, they open up more. … They know exactly what each person is going through.”
The University of Texas Medical Branch has partnered with the American Cancer Society Look Good … Feel Better program for more than six years. The workshop teaches beauty techniques to help combat side effects of radiation and chemotherapy that play havoc with appearance.
“The skin goes through changes because of the treatments,” said Turrubiate, who puts out fliers, signs up patients and prepares the room. “Some people get rashes; their hair falls out …. The skin is more sensitive; they have reactions to things more easily because their immune system is just not the same any more.”
Cosmetologist Christine Haas underwent special training for the UTMB workshop. She helps women apply makeup to blotchy skin and learn how to draw on eyebrows.
“Their eyebrows really help them to be more expressive,” she said. “We can apply (false) eyelashes to help keep the dust out of their eyes.”
The American Cancer Society provides take-home bags of makeup donated by major cosmetic companies. Wigs and clothing also have been donated.
UTMB offers the workshops several times a year to women undergoing any kind of cancer treatment.
“They laugh more and get to try on different things and talk to each other,” said Turrubiate. “It’s amazing the difference it makes.”
For more information, contact Stella Turrubiate at 832-505-1700. Learn more about the national program at www.lookgoodfeelbetter.org.