Help to look good after treatment

2015-10-27 06:00
Helen Ohlhoff, a regional coordinator of Look Good Feel Better, organises workshops at hospitals and clinics for breast cancer patients to show them how to take care of their skin after treatment.

Helen Ohlhoff, a regional coordinator of Look Good Feel Better, organises workshops at hospitals and clinics for breast cancer patients to show them how to take care of their skin after treatment.

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When someone is diagnosed with breast cancer a lot changes for her.

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 self-image.

A turning point can be a Look Good Feel Better (LGFB) workshop, like the one recently held at Groote Schuur Hospital.

LGFB is a non-profit organisation that holds workshops for cancer patients around the country to show them how to address the appearance-related side effects of treatment in a positive and practical way.

Throughout Breast Cancer Awareness Month LGFB volunteers are speaking about how their work helps cancer patients to care for their skin.

Ten workshops are being held at hospitals and clinics across Cape Town this month and another 10 will be held in November – at Groote Schuur, Tygerberg, N1 City, the Constantiaberg Haematology unit, Mediclinic Panorama, Rondebosch medical centre, Vergelegen and Vincent Pallotti clinics and Cape Gate medical centre.

Helen Ohlhoff, a regional coordinator of LGFB, says workshop participants are taught about caring for the skin and how to apply skincare products. “Participants learn about make-up to make themselves look good and feel confident – which doctors say contributes enormously to the healing process. Participants are given a range of products to soothe and heal their skin and advised on how to use them,” she says.

The workshops also provide an opportunity to connect with other women undergoing the same treatments.

Dr Liana Roodt, who specialises in cancer surgery, says surgery is generally the first line of treatment for breast cancer, followed by radiation or chemotherapy.

“The surgery scar becomes a physical reminder of the cancer journey. For some people it becomes a mark of honour, but for many it unlocks much 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 and the loss of hair, even of eyebrows and eyelashes,” she says.

 

For more information visit www.lgfb.co.za or contact LGFB programme director Margaret Hewson on 011 795 3927 or margaret@lgfb.co.za.

When someone is diagnosed with breast cancer a lot changes for her.

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