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For a day, cancer survivors get royal treatment

Look Good…Feel Better helps build confidence with beauty makeover

cancerPictured, Pickens program volunteers Amy Leake (top) and Nancy Unzicker during a makeover presentation. 

“One of the hardest things about going through chemo is losing your hair,” said Pickens’ Look Good…Feel Better organizer Tanya Kyle, who lost her own hair to chemotherapy treatment nearly 30 years ago.

“Your hair is part of being female, and when you start to lose it, it is just devastating,” she said.

The American Cancer Society’s Look Good…Feel Better program was established to help support women who are not only struggling with the energy, appetite and strength-robbing effects of cancer, but who are experiencing low self-confidence because of the physical changes that often accompany active chemo treatment.

“I love this program,” said Kyle. “I love it because for one day you forget about your troubles and woes. Even if you don’t go out much, when you walk by the mirror and you’ve lost weight or your hair is falling out, you don’t feel good about yourself.


“This class gives you the chance to be pampered for a day and feel good about yourself again.”

Each third Monday of the month, Kyle and volunteer cosmetologists invite cancer survivors to attend the free workshop. There they are given a makeup bag with over $300 worth of cosmetics and instruction on how to apply the makeup, paying special attention to areas of the face that may alter physically during chemotherapy treatment.

As part of the American Cancer Society program, they also receive free head wraps and instruction on how to use and care for wigs.

“I love this because it gives me a chance to give back,” said longtime Look Good…Feel Better volunteer Amy Leake, a cosmetologist from Northwest Salon in Jasper. “It’s a life changing experience. I love it when the women start to feel comfortable about being here and they start to pull those wigs off and go bald.

“Every girl wants to be girly and do girly stuff,” she said, “and it’s amazing the confidence they leave here with.”

But Kyle said the Pickens community makes the cancer survivors’ experience even more special with several local groups and organizations donating money or goods to participants.

“The American Cancer Society’s program is very specific, and they do a set program,” she said. “It’s just amazing the way the community has gotten behind this project. A lot of the people who donate to us either survived themselves or know someone who had to fight it.”

The knitting club the Knit Wits out of Big Canoe donate hats, Suzanne Renick and Barbara Ress of Made of You donates handmade soaps and candles, Eileen Payne of Hometown Home Health donates free bras for women who require special post-mastectomy undergarments, Pat Martin donates jewelry, and Honeysuckle Florist donates a flower arrangement to each participant.

“[The Pickens County Community Resource Center] also gives us grants so we can provide free wigs to women who need them,” Kyle said, and beyond coming to lead classes and teach makeup and wig tips, cosmetologists from Northwest Salon and Hollywood FX also invite women to come in to the salon to have their wig styled and trimmed.

There are also cosmetologists from E-Z Hair who volunteer their time to the program.

“I’ve never seen such a giving community,” Kyle said. “We are so appreciative that we can do all these extra things for these women. These are people with a heart to share and give to people in need.”

Kyle says, however, that women get more out of the program than self-confidence. She says they often find support from communing with others who are struggling with cancer.

“After the makeup and wig tips, the women will often times just talk to one another and talk about where they are on their journey,” she said. “They can learn things from each other because they are all at a different place.”

If you know a woman or are a woman who would like to participate in this free program, Kyle encourages you to call and register ahead of time. She says participants are welcome to bring along a friend, sibling or parent.

“We like to know who is coming so we can get their skin tone for the makeup bags,” she said. “And often they will bring someone along because they usually aren’t feeling good. We just want to make this a special time for them.”

You can reach Kyle at 678-602-0053 or 706-692-0197.

You can learn more about the Look Good…Feel Better program by calling 1-800-395-LOOK or by visiting

Angela Reinhardt can be reached at [email protected]

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