My name is Cathy Moore and I’m a volunteer with Look Good Feel Better, I was a participant in one of the workshops and was so inspired by the impact it had on me I offered to go around the country to talk about my experience.
Just to start at the beginning. Everyone reacts differently to chemo, I had the shakes a lot of the time and pins and needles in my fingers and toes. I also had massive bouts of overheating. I remember that leaving the bedroom window open all night at home became normal. I’d look in the mirror and feel like a blob, a marshmallow, and I’d think to myself, "I’m in there somewhere, I’ve got to try to find myself".
“This is a time for you and we’re all going to have some fun today”
I had a friend who had gone through breast cancer and said “Make sure you do the Look Good Feel Better workshop, it’s a fabulous thing to do in the middle of the chaos”. The workshop I went to was in the boardroom of Beaumont Hospital, which was beautiful. I loved everything about the workshop instantly, from the beginning, I was warmly welcomed and there were women of all ages and stages of cancer. The lead make-up artist told us that “This is a time for you and we’re all going to have some fun today”. We were invited to take our wigs off, so wigs were thrown in the air and scarves came off. Some people had wisps of hair, some had none. We all sat there with an air of excitement with a mirror, tissues, a goodie bag and roadmap. The roadmap was a lifesaver for me, it’s a leaflet that explains step by step how to put make-up on. I still use it. The Goodie bags have moisturiser, cleanser and every piece of make-up you need from blusher to eye liner and you get to keep it and take it all home.
Simplest of things make a difference
It’s funny how the simplest of things make a huge, huge difference. The volunteers were amazing, I found it virtually impossible to open any of the packaging as when I was having chemo my fine motor skills went and my hands became like paws – I couldn’t open anything. The volunteers picked up on this and opened the packaging for me. I loved the workshop as there was so much laughter. I remember I was sitting next to an older lady whose entire experience with make-up was a bit of Ponds Day Crème and some powder. As she went through the workshop she transformed right before us all. She was delighted with her new look and said that she had never felt like this before, that she felt like a new woman. The little tips like anchoring your arm when you’re putting on eye liner to stop the shakes meant a lot to me. When we were done admiring each other’s make-up, the wig specialist came in she told us of different types of wigs, shapes of wigs, fringes and scarves. I love wearing caps and she showed us a special type of wig like friar tuck’s hair, it looked funny but worked really well with my caps. I suppose what I think about the workshop is that it does exactly what it says on the tin – it makes you look good and feel better. I felt like I was falling into the abyss before the workshop and it put me back into the land of the living.
Every woman deserves a little pampering
When I wanted the Look Good Feel Better workshop I remember that I really had to look for information, it wasn’t that easy to get. So, I was at a volunteering initiative and I sat next to Emily Dunne, who was the programme manager of Look Good Feel Better at the time, and I asked her about her job and she told me and I told her that I’d really love to promote the service and tell more people about it. So I became a volunteer patient ambassador. I now go around the country talking to people about the programme, what a great day it is and that it's vital that everyone gets the opportunity to take part in the workshop. Every woman deserves a little pampering as they go through such a difficult time where there see their identity slipping away on a daily basis with the loss of hair eyebrows and eyelashes.