Looking Good can make you Feel Better

Andiswa Gabu was diagnosed with breast cancer in January this year and was in a state of shock after her treatment. “It affected me personally as a woman, because a part of me was taken away,” she said.

“How was I going to look? How would I dress? Come summer, would I be able to dress in the same way?”

But Andiswa experienced a turning point at a Look Good Feel Better (LGFB) workshop at Groote Schuur Hospital. LGFB is a non-profit organisation that holds workshops for cancer patients around the country, showing them how to address the appearance-related side effects of treatment in a positive and practical way.
This month, October, is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and the LGFB volunteers are speaking about how about their work helps cancer patients to care for their skin, which is the largest organ in the body. The skin’s rapidly dividing cells make it particularly vulnerable during cancer treatment.

“Now I look good,” said Andiswa, smiling, after the workshop. “Just to have positive energy around, makes me feel good. Now no one notices I have cancer, and sometimes even I forget.”

We all know that the treatment for breast cancer is often life-saving. Less well-known is that this treatment takes the patient on a traumatic journey that can scar her appearance and, as a result, it often scars her self-image.

Surgery is generally the first line of treatment for breast cancer, followed by radiation and / or chemotherapy, if the cancer has spread. “The surgery scar becomes a physical reminder of the cancer journey,” said Dr Liana Roodt, who specialises in cancer surgery. “For some people it becomes a mark of honour, a battle scar, but for many it unlocks a lot of emotion and serves as a reminder of what they have been through.”

The side-effects of chemotherapy and radiation include extremely dehydrated, dry and itchy skin, which can also become red or pigmented; brittle, darkened nails; the loss of hair, even of eyebrows and eyelashes.

“In a LGFB workshop participants learn about caring for the skin and how to apply skincare products and make-up to make themselves look good and feel confident – which, doctors say, contributes enormously to the healing process,” said Look Good Feel Better regional co-ordinator Helen Ohlhoff. “Participants are given a range of products such as Bio-Oil to soothe and heal their dry, itchy skin, and advised on how to use them.”

LGFB first started in the US in 1989 and is now active in 26 countries. It was introduced to South Africa in 2004 and has grown to the extent that there are now 280 trained volunteers offering the workshops at 39 treatment centres* (hospitals and clinics) across the country. The workshops also provide an invaluable opportunity to connect with other women undergoing the same treatments, to help deal with the sense of isolation and emotional turmoil that typifies the cancer journey.

After one of the workshops, 67 year old Maria Xayiya commented: “I am so excited. You know, since using all these products, I have become so beautiful, and my face so smooth. I don’t care what anyone says, I am beautiful.”

Bio-Oil, one of the most trusted skin care products world-wide, is one of numerous skin care and cosmetic companies that donate product for the workshops. “This is a small way we can support the women going through the traumas associated with treatment,” said company spokeswoman Kim Lombard, the MD of Evolabs, which distributes Bio-Oil.



“LGFB is manned by volunteers and we commend them for their dedication and selflessness in teaching women how to cope on this difficult journey.”

One in eight males, and one in nine females, will develop cancer in their lifetime – a frightening statistic that is continuously increasing. Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women, followed by cervical and colorectal cancers. Among men, the most common forms of cancers are prostate, followed by lung and oesophagus cancer.

One of the LGFB workshops held at Groote Schuur was recently filmed and includes interview with two doctors and four patients undergoing treatment, .

For more details on appearance-related side effects and self-care tips visit www.lgfb.co.za. or click here: To find out more about LGFB, contact Look Good Feel Better Programme Director Margaret Hewson 011 7953927 / margaret@lgfb.cp.za

REGIONAL WORKSHOPS 2015

CAPE TOWN
Ten workshops are being held at hospitals and clinics across Cape Town this month (October), and another 10 will be held in November. In Cape Town, the workshops are held at Groote Schuur, Tygerberg, N1 City and Panorama hospitals; the Constantiaberg Haematology unit; Mediclinic Panorama; Rondebosch Medical Centre; Vergelegen Clinic, and Cape Gate Medical Centre.

GAUTENG
Thirteen workshops are being held at hospitals and clinics across Johannesburg this month (October), and another 10 in November and 3 in December respectively. In Johannesburg, the workshops are held at Benoni Oncology, Clinton Clinic, Charlotte Maxeke Hospital, Donald Gordon Media Center, Donald Gordon Trial Site, Donald Gordon Radiation Oncology, Flora Clinic, Helen Joseph Hospital, Olivedale Clinic and Rand Clinic. Each of these workshops is run in three languages: English, Afrikaans and isiXhosa.

KZN
Six workshops are being held at hospitals and clinics across Durban this month (October), and another 6 will be held in November. In Durban, the workshops are held at Inkosi Albert Luthuli Central Hospital, Parklands Clinic, Toti Oncology, Rainbow Oncology, Westridge Oncology and Umhlanga Oncology. Each of these workshops is run in three languages: English, Afrikaans and isiXhosa.

PIETERMARITZBURG
Two workshops are being held at hospitals across Pietermaritzburg this month (October), and another 2 will be held in November. In Pietermaritzburg, the workshops are held at Greys Hospital and St Annes Hospital. Each of these workshops is run in three languages: English, Afrikaans and isiXhosa.

BLOEMFONTEIN
Three workshops are being held at hospitals and clinics across Bloemfontein this month (October), and another 3 in November and 2 in December respectively. In Bloemfontein, the workshops are held at Bloemfontein National, Medic Clinic and Rose Park. Each of these workshops is run in three languages: English, Afrikaans and isiXhosa.

PRETORIA
Five workshops are being held at hospitals across Pretoria this month (October), and another 5 will be held in November. In Pretoria, the workshops are held at Little Company of Mary, Medi clinic MuelMed, Steve Biko PTA Academic Hospital, Unitas Hospital and Wilgers Hospital. Each of these workshops is run in three languages: English, Afrikaans and isiXhosa.

I absolutely am 100% behind this cause which empowers women through one of the most difficult journey's they ever have to face. I salute all the survivor's and wish you all joy and happiness for everyday!

Treasure every moment ladies and have yourself checked!









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