May 21, 2015 7:58 pm
Updated: May 22, 2015 9:56 am

‘It’s not just about the makeup’: Support program empowers women going through cancer treatment

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WATCH ABOVE: The Cross Cancer Institute helps women with cancer in many ways. Lisa Wolansky shows us a special workshop designed to empower patients.

EDMONTON – For many women going through cancer treatment, the side effects can be devastating, and that includes their physical appearance.

“Not working, not being able to do the things with my kids that I had thought about, my looks,” said Emma Dybka. “Obviously losing my hair to me was very traumatic.”

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Dybka was diagnosed with breast cancer in January. She had a lumpectomy in February and began chemotherapy in April. While the treatment has been difficult on her, she says a program at the Cross Cancer Institute has given her something to look forward to.

“You gotta do something to make yourself feel good and if it means getting up and getting dressed in the morning and coming here, that’s awesome,” said Dybka.

Dybka took part in the facility’s Look Good Feel Better course Thursday. From healthy skin care regimens to picking out and caring for a wig, the program gives women going through cancer treatment guidance to help them face their journey with confidence.

“During treatment sometimes there are changes with their skin and their hair; there are things that they need to know,” said Audrey Wilkes, a volunteer who leads the workshops.

“We try to give them some tips that are helpful that relate to their cancer treatment.”

While the program centres around physical appearance, it’s about much more than that for those who participate.

“It’s not just about the makeup for me,” said Dybka. “It was the positive energy that the ladies bring … they’re always so positive.”

“When the women arrive at the workshop they’re often a bit quiet and reserved and after a couple of hours we’re hearing them laugh and talk to one another and feeling quite beautiful,” added Wilkes.

“(They leave) here with their shoulders back and a big smile on their faces.”

Dybka says it’s worked for her and really helped raised her spirits.

“I have to embrace what I’ve been left with and buy cool scarves and cool wigs and get some cool makeup and make myself feel better,” said Dybka. “You have to.”

The free two-hour Look Good Feel Better sessions are offered twice a month to patients at the Cross Cancer Institute. The course is part of an international program and runs in more than 100 centres across Canada. For more information, visit Look Good Feel Better’s website.

With files from Lisa Wolansky, Global News. 

© 2015 Shaw Media

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