LEWISTOWN - As Janice Aumiller and Patricia Erhard sat in the conference room of the Community Cancer Treatment Center in Lewistown, their thoughts were not on their cancer diagnoses or this week's treatment.
Instead, they were telling jokes, laughing out loud and enjoying a Look Good Feel Better makeover.
"Cancer is devastating," said Norma Fisher, the treatment center's Look Good Feel Better coordinator. "This workshop gives patients the chance to have some fun and forget about what they're going through. We focus on the personal side of things."
Janice Aumiller, front, and, back, from left, Heather Bradshaw, Patricia Erhard and Norma Fisher, show off the final looks after October’s Look Good Feel Better workshop Monday at the Community Cancer Treatment Center, in Lewistown.
The workshop, held once a month, is instructed by volunteer Heather Bradshaw, owner of VIBE Hair and Nail Salon, in Yeagertown. Over the two hour period, she guides participants through a 12-step skin care and make-up lesson using the personalized kits given to each person.
"It's all about how you feel after the workshop," Bradshaw said. "Sometimes you're all crying together and sometimes you're as high as a kite. Either way, I leave knowing that I helped someone."
Bradshaw has been volunteering with the program in Lewistown for two and a half years. Witnessing the transformation these women go through, in look, attitude and confidence, is so inspiring, she said.
"I teach them how to use the make-up to mask the effects of chemotherapy," Bradshaw said. "Everyone can apply the make-up to their own preferences, so no one leaves looking fake or overdone."
Aumiller and Erhard start with a facial cleanser and moisturizer before being shown how to use concealer and foundation to fix changes in skin color, dark spots or bags under the eyes.
Once everything is blended, Bradshaw shows them a three step trick to add or thicken eyebrows.
Eye liner, shadow and mascara are then applied, followed by lip liner and lipstick. Everyone leaves glowing, Fisher said.
"Some people are very reluctant to try this at first, but it can make women feel so much better," Fisher said. "It's basically two hours where we don't talk about cancer."
Aumiller, a client at VIBE, came to the workshop because Bradshaw convinced her it would be fun. She's currently undergoing treatment for lung cancer.
"Sometimes you really do feel like a ragamuffin (when you have cancer)," Aumiller said. "I thought this (workshop) could help me fix up a bit. It's been fun. I haven't laughed like this in a long time."
During the workshop, Aumiller tried on her first wig and consented to having her picture taken - the first since she was diagnosed.
"Sometimes I think everything has gone wrong," Aumiller said. "I didn't lose my hair the first time when I had breast cancer, but I did this time. I'm just more sensitive about it."
Erhard, diagnosed with breast cancer, shaved her head before starting chemotherapy. She didn't want to watch her hair fall out in clumps on the floor, she said.
"Sometimes I forget I don't have hair," Erhard said. "I'll be sitting around at home and someone will ring the bell and I'll have to run around to put something on my head. I don't want them to be shocked."
Erhard also left the workshop with a new wig, using her head scarf as an accessory instead of a necessity.
"It only took two hours, but I feel like a new woman," Erhard said. "This was perfect timing for me - I'll have a good week before I have to go to treatment."
The next Look Good Feel Better workshop is scheduled for Nov. 11 at the Community Cancer Treatment Center in Lewistown. For more information, contact Fisher at 242-7297.
Look Good Feel Better is a free program created in collaboration by the Personal Care Products Council Foundation, American Cancer Society and Professional Beauty Foundation.