By the nature of its side effects, cancer treatment can make a private battle a very public affair. For a woman with cancer, having a bald head, pale skin or a missing breast can make her feel like she's being targeted by a bright spotlight and a banner that says, "Cancer patient."
But now more than ever, there are resources for women that will put the spotlight back on their work, their accomplishments and their life—and change that banner to simply read, "Woman."
The Eleanor Mergenthaler Foundation
Belleza Salon in O'Fallon recently hosted the "Cut For The Cause" event on Sunday Oct. 21. The salon joined other local businesses in Pheasant Pointe Plaza and offered adult and kids haircuts for $25 and $16, with all proceeds going to help women suffering from breast cancer feel beautiful in their time of need.
This was the first event presented by Belleza's new Eleanor Mergenthaler Foundation. Salon owner Robyn Clark recently began the foundation in honor of her grandmother who passed away from breast cancer 18 years ago.
Clark said she wanted to find a way to help women access scarves and wigs, or come in after the salon is closed to have their head shaved in private.
"We've gone through this with so many clients," she said. "Many of them don't know what to expect."
Clark said she hopes the foundation will help make clients lives a little more comfortable and help them in their time of need--whether they need someone to help them draw on their eyebrows or just someone to be there for them.
Belleza Salon will host another fundraising event in the spring of 2013. Customers are always welcome to come in and make donations.
No Woman Left Behind
Ann's Bra Shop has been a St. Charles County institution for 40 years. The specialty shop, formerly located in O'Fallon, moved to Wentzville five years ago and also has locations in Chesterfield and O'Fallon, IL. The shop offers private fittings for mastectomy bras.
"We spend as much time as needed to make a woman feel comfortable—and pretty," staffer Patti Schueman said. They have lace mastectomy bras, no-seam bras, camis and swimsuits.
Ann's Bra Shop owner Catherine Burns has established a non-profit organization, No Woman Left Behind, which offers help to women in Missouri and Illinois who can't afford prosthesis or mastectomy products. The organization's website states:
The NWLB Program was initiated in 2004 as a response to the escalating healthcare insurance crisis and its effect on women who have breast cancer. Unaffordable insurance premiums, high deductibles, and limited coverage leave many women without the means to purchase items needed to recover from the physical and psychological assaults of breast cancer.
The NWLB website features thank-you notes from women who have benefitted from the program. "Thank you so much for the two bras that were donated to me. You guys really boosted my spirits. It's really hard being seventeen and having only one breast," one young woman wrote.
Look Good/Feel Better
The Look Good Feel Better program is a joint effort of the Personal Care Products Council, The American Cancer Society and the Professional Beauty Association/National Cosmetology Association.
According to their website, the program "teaches beauty techniques to cancer patients to help them manage the appearance-related side effects of cancer treatment." Programs are open to all women with cancer and are undergoing chemotherapy, radiation or other forms of treatment, and thousands of beauty professionals volunteer their help.
One of those volunteers is Sue Broughton, the owner of Lake Saint Louis Wigs & Cuts. At LGFB classes, patients are given a make-up kit and instructed about a variety of subjects such as changes in the skin, drawing on eyebrows, how to make a turban out of a t-shirt and wig care. "I'm the wig lady," Broughton said.
Broughton's Lake Saint Louis shop offers a 10 percent discount to chemo patients, along with several free services like wig cutting.
Locations with LGFB classes coming up include:
- SSM St. Joseph Hospital West, Lake Saint Louis, Dec. 10, 2012, 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.
- Siteman Cancer Center, St. Peters, Nov. 5, 2012, 10 a.m. - 12 p.m.; Dec. 3, 2012, 10 a.m. - 12 p.m.
- SSM Cancer Care at Medical Park, St. Charles, Nov. 26, 10 a.m. - 12 p.m.
- SSM De Paul Health Center, Bridgeton, Nov. 19, 1 p.m.
Check the LGFB website for more information.
Adopting a new look during treatment is about more than simply feeling good for the moment—it can be another weapon in a woman's arsenal against cancer, giving her a deep well of positivity to sustain her.
TELL US: We want to know what matters most to you, whether it's lashes, lipstick or lingerie. Share in the comments section below what aspects of a makeover makes you feel the most beautiful.