Batesville, Ark. - Cancer and the treatments that fight it can wreak havoc on a person's body. Side effects may include hair and weight loss. The change in one's appearance caused by cancer treatment can negatively affect self-confidence. It is important as a part of recovery to build patients' strength and self-confidence. White River Medical Center (WRMC) Cancer Care Center, WRMC Breast Care Center, and the American Cancer Society team up to offer Look Good, Feel Better, a class that helps women build self-esteem.
The event's focus is encouraging women with cancer. During the event, participants are pampered by licensed cosmetologists. The cosmetologists demonstrate skin care and make-up techniques to address challenges unique to cancer patients. Cosmetologists also help patients choose wigs if needed. Through the generosity of sponsors, participants received skin care and make-products to use at home. During the most recent class, participants received a gift card for a free massage session. The class is held quarterly at
the Josephine Raye Rogers Conference Center. Sponsoring organizations and local businesses provide the funding for Look Good Feel Better so that there is no cost to the women who participate.
Guest speaker, Amy Fairchild, spoke about her battle during the class. She fought her battle while in her 30s, under the recommended screening age. During a trip with her family, she knew something was wrong and immediately scheduled an appointment with her doctor. After consulting with her doctor and conducting tests, Amy was diagnosed with breast cancer. As she talked about the red devil, a name commonly used to describe the chemotherapy medication Adriamycin/Doxorubicin, many women shook their heads in understanding. During her talk, Amy reminded the women that they are not alone, and that they must continue to fight.
Karen Farmer, a participant in the Look Good, Feel Better class, listens attentively as Licensed Cosmetologist and Class Instructor, Jenifer Walls from Studio Salon in Batesville, provides skin care tips. Karen was diagnosed with early stage breast cancer in the spring of 2016. She had recently moved from California and knew few people in the area. After her diagnosis, Karen went back to California to finish packing the rest of her things. When she returned, she was surprised to find her yard mowed and flowers planted in the flower beds. She was grateful for the love and support shown by people she had only met two months earlier. Karen has been overjoyed with the southern hospitality in Batesville.
After her diagnosis, people questioned if she would go back to California for her treatment, but Karen had no doubt that she wanted to stay and complete her treatment in Batesville.
"I had never been hospitalized for anything before cancer," Karen said. "But I wouldn't have traded my care in Batesville to go anywhere else."
After a lumpectomy, surgery to remove the tumor, Karen received radiation therapy at the WRMC Cancer Care Center. Karen spoke about the physically and emotional challenges of the treatment process. She completed treatment in October of 2016. She feels very blessed that chemotherapy was not required. Karen takes medication as a part of her follow up care.
"There are times you want to quit, but you can't. You have to keep fighting for your family and friends," Karen stressed.
Karen recommends that all cancer patients to get involved with the Look Good, Feel Better class and other activities that are available to them. "This class has made me feel beyond beautiful, and I cannot wait to take these tips home with me."
"I cannot stress how important it is to be part of a support group," said Karen. "I attend a Cancer support group each month. I encourage patients in treatment to join our group. Talking with people who are going through the same thing as I am creates a sense of encouragement."
Circle of Hope, a group sponsored by the WRHS Foundation, meets monthly at the Josephine Raye Rogers Conference Center. The support group is open to anyone diagnosed with and fighting cancer. For more information on how to get involved, contact Dana Thomas at (870) 262-1035.
As a way to give back, Karen donates her hair to organizations to make wigs for cancer patients. She invites others to donate as well. "It is a great way to give back even if you can't afford to give financially."
Along with Jenifer Wallis, Licensed Cosmetologists Claudette Jones and Karen Walton volunteered their services for the event.
"Volunteers for Look Good, Feel Better help bring hope, courage and confidence to people facing the challenge of a lifetime. It is a privilege to be part of such a special event," said Jami Smotherman, Tumor Registrar at the WRMC Cancer Care Center. "I've watched as these women transform throughout each session. They share their experiences and frustrations, and in the process, they find courage in a community of women on the same journey."
The class is held four times a year and is for women of all ages who are battling cancer. Women interested in taking part in the class may contact Jami Smotherman at (870) 262-6206 or Kara Queary at (870) 262-6205.
Services of the WRMC Breast Care Center include a high risk breast cancer clinic. Women who may have an above average risk for developing breast cancer are encouraged to contact their OB/GYN or primary care provider for a referral to the WRMC Breast Care Center's high risk clinic. Recommendations for patients at high risk for developing breast cancer may include more frequent screenings, or preventive medications. The WRMC Breast Care Center is open Monday through Thursday from 8AM to 4:30PM and Friday from 8AM to Noon. Appointments may be made by calling 870-262-6210.