The Donegal volunteers with the Look Good Feel Better Ireland programme talk about the benefits of empowering women as they fight cancer.
The Look Good Feel Better programme is a volunteering opportunity for people in the beauty industry and a chance for women to get support to deal with the visible side effects of cancer treatment.
Volunteers host pamper workshops to improve the wellbeing and self-confidence of women undergoing treatment for any type of cancer.
AnnMarie Carolan and Nikki Doherty are the two Donegal Volunteers currently hosting classes at Scally Place in Letterkenny. For two hours every month they meet 12 brave women who are battling cancer.
Nikki Doherty spoke with Donegal Woman about the rewarding experience of volunteering. She has been travelling from her salon in Gweedore to Letterkenny every month for the past two years and looks forward to every new workshop.
“The classes are great fun. The women get tea and coffee and a chance to mingle before sitting down to the demos. Either myself or AnnMarie will do the makeup demonstration on a volunteer while the other women have mirrors and all the products at their stations.”
Participants get goodie bags full of beauty and skincare products donated from a wide range of popular makeup brands. They also get specific advice about looking after themselves while getting cancer treatment.
Women who are going through hair loss or have developed dry skin or other conditions get special tips and tricks for improving their look and feeling better.
From eyebrow shaping to colour correcting – women discover the many ways they can take control of their appearance as they battle cancer.
Letterkenny hairdresser Bernie Ryan has also supported the programme by giving advice about wigs and hair care during chemotherapy.
“Everything strips from the body when the women are getting treatment,” Nikki said. “They might be paranoid about their appearance and we just want to help the women feel better.”
The workshop participants also have a unique chance to talk to each other about their experiences.
“Sometimes women feel isolated when they’re going through cancer and they don’t get to talk to anyone. The women ask each other questions and they know what the other is going through.
“I volunteer for just two hours a month. To me, it’s nothing, but at the start it was tough to see beautiful young women going through these hard times. But you get through it and I find it so rewarding to see them happy,” she said.
A helping hand needed
Nikki has been a qualified beautician for 13 years and is more than happy to share her skills with the participants. AnnMarie is from Ballybofey and works in the cosmetics department of McElhinneys. The two volunteers have been happily running the classes for the past two years but there is a need for extra help.
Nikki explained: “I have two boys and if one of them has a cold or a bug I can’t do the workshops. This has happened before. There needs to be two volunteers – when one of us is doing the demo the other will be walking around and helping the women follow the step-by-step guides. Two nurses from the Daffodil Centre are also present during classes.
“Some of the women might be weak but they are all so positive. It’s always a brilliant day and we get great feedback.”
A Facebook appeal for volunteers in the Donegal beauty industry received a huge response this week, and the charity organisers are delighted to see such an increased level of interest.
If you are a qualified make-up artist or beauty therapist and would like to help run the workshops in Letterkenny, visit www.lookgoodfeelbetter.ie or text 087 7008366.
If you are undergoing cancer treatment and interested in attending the workshops, you can contact your oncology nurse or the Daffodil Centre in the hospital where you are a patient and ask about Look Good Feel Better.
Workshops are free for female cancer patients to attend. Upcoming dates in Letterkenny for 2017 are: 21st Mar, 25th Apr, 16th May, 13th June.
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