Life is hard enough for women who have cancer, but losing eyebrows and hair can make things feel even worse.
But local charity volunteers are providing help – with free skincare and make-up workshops, at Blackpool Victoria Hospital each month.
Originating in America, the Look Good Feel Better charity runs 90 workshops in hospitals and cancer centres across the country.
With more than a combined 30 years in the beauty industry, Dawn Zerbinati and Anne Smart have co-ordinated the workshops at the hospital for the last four years. Companies, such as Boots No7 and Clinique, donate make-up and skincare goods which each lady receives to keep in a special bag.
Dawn, Anne and helpers demonstrate how to apply make-up, especially around eyebrow and eyelash loss.
Women taking part each have a mirror to practice the techniques. The group learns about how cancer treatments affect the skin and how to help combat possible problems.
Anne said: “We love the feeling we are making a big difference to ladies living with cancer.
“When they first come into the room, they are a bit apprehensive, but by the time they leave, you can see their confidence has grown.”
Dawn added: “The workshop helps them feel feminine again and it’s nice women can empower other women.”
After the workshop finishes, the group gets to speak to local hairdresser and Mirror Talk salon owner, Janet Stewart, who was once part of the same group as a cancer patient.
She said: “I was sat where these ladies are around three years ago. I thought ladies would benefit from information about their hair. I have been hairdressing for 40 years and it is my passion, so I asked if I could participate.
“I come into the workshop once a month to talk about hair care and hair loss.
“I’m very lucky to be able to get treatment kits donated from hair company Wella the ladies can take home with them. I also offer specialist Nioxin hair systems in my salon and I enjoy giving something back.”
Among those who took part in the course was 43-year-old Claire Connor, from Blackpool.
She said: “I don’t recognise myself anymore.
“It’s so nice to be able to open up to others who understand exactly how you are feeling and that you are not on your own. It’s nice to feel normal again. I’m glad I came.”
Catherine Davies, Macmillan Cancer information and support manager, said: “The workshops provide a day where ladies can come in and it’s not about the cancer, it’s about them.
“They can get to make new friends who know how everybody else feels. A lot meet up again further down the line to see how each other are doing. .”
The workshops are held 11 months of the year and any woman with a cancer diagnosis is entitled to one session. The workshop is also happy to except ladies living elsewhere in Lancashire and South Cumbria.
Call (01253) 955710.