The Press-Enterprise

Therapy that’s more than skin deep

Program provides cancer patients with beauty aids, better moods

10:00 PM PDT on Sunday, October 22, 2006
By SANDRA BALTAZAR MARTÍNEZ

The Press-Enterprise

PALM SPRINGS – At 9 a.m. Megan White sat quietly in front of a cantaloupe-sized mirror. In its reflection there was the
woman with boyish peppered hair and ivory-colored skin.

White, 67, drove from her Big Bear home to find support. On a recent weekday she met three other women who, like her,
are battling cancer. The quiet in a Desert Regional Medical Center meeting room slowly evaporated. During a two-hour
session of a “Look Good… Feel Better” class, a little makeup and stylish wigs and hair pieces brought out laughter — and
some tears.

“You are thrown into a place where you don’t know what to do, you don’t know what to wear, how to fix your hair,” said
White, who recently cut her shoulder-length strands to avoid the pain of seeing it fall out during chemotherapy, she said.

In the desert, “Look Good… Feel Better” started six years ago, said Anita Roark, manager of health programs in the desert.
Nationwide the program has been running for about 20 years, said Beckie Moore Flati, marking communications director
for the American Cancer Society Border Sierra region, which includes the Inland Empire.

Hair designers and estheticians volunteer their time to make the program possible, Roark said. Many hospitals in both
Riverside and San Bernardino counties offer the program free of charge. John F. Kennedy Memorial Hospital in Indio will
start offering the class in Spanish this month.

According to Beverly Cooley, a cancer survivor and desert coordinator for “Look Good… Feel Better,” the program helps
women with the appearance-related side effects of the treatment.
“The most devastating part is not going through chemotherapy… it’s losing your hair and feeling like you’re nothing,”
Cooley said.

But the free services — the wigs, hats, turbans, makeup and the volunteers — make a difference, Cooley said.  Mercy
Capps, 65, can attest to that.  She was diagnosed with lymphoma cancer in January.  But attending the class gave her a
moment of happiness, she said.  “This morning I woke up crying, depressed. It hppens when you are all alone,” said
Capps, a Cathedral City resident.  “But I’m glad I came. Now I’m going to go out and find me a ‘sugar daddy,’ ” Capps said,
spurring laughter from the rest of the women and volunteers.

“Look Good… Feel Better” is spearheaded by the American Cancer Society and sponsored by the Cosmetic, Toiletry and
Fragrance Foundation and the National Cosmetology Association.

Each gift bag includes about $300 worth of Estée Lauder, Chanel, Revlon, MAC and Avon cosmetics, said Sonja Brulez, a
volunteer certified esthetician.

Taking out the lipstick, moisturizer and cheek color felt like Christmas, said Eileen Clark, 63, a Seven Lakes resident.
Christina Lopez, 47 and a Cathedral City resident, said she appreciated the wig and makeup because she is still employed.
She also stopped by a table to pick up a crocheted winter hat donated by Fellowship in the Pass Church in Beaumont.

After the session, the four women, including White, left in a different mood.  “I feel pretty. I feel much better now than
when I came in, absolutely,” said White, wearing her new salt-and-pepper wig and maroon lipstick.