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Program teaches cancer patients how to deal with changes

It was a workshop coveted by fashion divas, but only cancer patients qualified to attend.

Five ladies sat around a table at McDuffie Regional Medical Center last month testing out new makeup products and techniques, rolling brightly colored cloth into turbans around their heads and dressing up hats with scarves and flowers.

"Anything to make it look like it's an accent, rather than 'I've gotta have this on today,'" explained cosmetologist Kay Kendrick, who was teaching the class.

Licensed cosmetologists in the Look Good...Feel Better program teach patients how to deal with skin changes and hair loss due to cancer treatments.

Held at McDuffie Regional Medical Center, the free classes provide each patient with a free cosmetic kit, personalized training to use the products, as well as tips on disguising hair loss.

"Patients always ask me where to find these hats, scarves and hair clips," Mrs. Kendrick said. "They don't see them because it's not something they are used to looking for. But, once you start looking, you see them everywhere."

Not only do cancer treatments cause loss of hair on the head, but on the body, Mrs. Kendrick said.

"And hair loss on the face makes the face look very blank. We teach ways to mask that. It's small, simple steps, but they are monumental steps to the patient," she added.

Mrs. Kendrick addressed other related topics, such as wig selection and care, fingernail care, sunscreen, dry skin and skin pigmentation changes, and fighting infections.

"I loved it," said patient Tina Vanhart, who lives in Washington. "It was very helpful, especially all the tips about wigs and infection-fighting when applying makeup."

Mrs. Kendrick covers a lot of information in two hours. In about two minutes flat, she cut the sleeves off of a royal blue t-shirt, rolled it over one of the ladies' head and secured it by flipping the crewneck over it all. "It's inexpensive, it's fast and it's easy," she said.

"Plus, you can have a turban in every color."

She showed the ladies how to add false bangs under hats, add body to hats by placing shoulder pads underneath, and to layer hats and turbans or hats and scarves.

"You want it to appear as though it all came together as a look rather than as a necessity," she said.

And she should know. Mrs. Kendrick, who owns Cut and Style on Main Street, has been teaching the program since it began. In Thomson, class attendance averages two to five people. Each year, Mrs. Kendrick teaches at least six patient sessions in Thomson and Augusta, six training sessions to certify other cosmetologists for the state and two state conference calls.

Look Good...Feel Better is a partnership between the American Cancer Society and the National Cosmetology Association and Personal Care Products Foundation.

The next class at McDuffie Regional Medical Center is from 5-7 p.m., on Tuesday, Nov. 9. It is available for resident in Warren, McDuffie, Lincoln, Jefferson, Hancock and Wilkes counties. Register by calling Angel Carter at the American Cancer Society, 866-227-0904.

Web posted on Thursday, October 07, 2010

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