Lake Regional program give cancer patients a sense of beauty

For a woman, enough can't be said of the drastic change that something as simple as make-up or a new hair-do can do for your mood. If you look good, you tend to feel better. Lake Regional cancer patients know that more than most. Women who are undergoing treatment are eligible for the monthly program that teaches them tips to use when applying make-up and wearing wigs or scarves.

Local salon owner, Donna Comelli, has been with the program since it started at Lake Regional almost three years ago. "It was just meant to be. Marcy Maxwell is a client of mine and has been for years. One day, she came in and said, 'Well, Donna we are going to start a new program, Look Good, Feel Better. Do you know anybody that is a hair designer or cosmetologist that would donate their time?' Truly it was a matter of timing. I just started taking one day a week off. I said, 'Well I'm off on Wednesdays. I could try it.' They made this according to my schedule," Comelli recalled.

Almost three years later, the program is as strong as ever. Comelli has seen women from all walks of life and all sort of attitudes when it comes to coping with their cancer. "It's amazing how some women handle this. Some women are so up and so grateful. You never know what they are going through. Some are having a really hard time. The fun part is some women never have used make-up. Others may do it for a living," she said.

It is obvious after sitting through one program that women leave with a completely different mood than the one they arrived with, but Comelli says that she is touched by the program, as well. "I really think it is as much a blessing for me as it is for these gals," she said.

Six women attended the September program at Lake Regional. One attendee, Ruby Pinkston of Camdenton, described the program by saying, "It's terrific." Her daughter, Tammy James, teared up when seeing the change in her mother in a matter of minutes. "She is smiling so big. Brings tears my eyes," James wrote in a text to her husband. "I haven't seen that in a long time," she said.

Another attendee, Nancy Palmer of Gravois Mills, has been a cancer center patient for about four years, but just recently found out about Look Good, Feel Better. "I wish I had known about this sooner. It's wonderful. You feel super. It picks your morale up," she said.

The participants are not the only ones that leave in a better mood, "I just love it. It makes me feel good," said Comelli.

Comelli starts with program with some sort of tip such as how to wear an old t-shirt as a head covering or how to style your favorite scarf. Then, each participant opens their gift bag full of make-up and supplies. Comelli then walks them through how to apply their make-up. After make-up, it is time for hair. The patients, try on wigs to find the perfect one for them.

Comelli offers tips to cancer patients that will not only make them feel better physically but will pick up their spirits as well. When it comes to hair, Commelli recommends wearing a hat or some sort of head covering. Many complain of getting cold. This quick fix will keep them warm when they start to lose their hair. She also recommends wearing make-up. "After they have the make up on, they have big smiles," she said of the women she has seen through the program.

Donna's salon, Bella Donna, has teamed up with Lake Regional this year and provides complimentary wig trims or haircuts and shaves for women who go through the Look Good, Feel Better program.

For Comelli, it doesn't matter that she gives up half of her day off once a month. When she sees the smiles on the women's faces, it is all worth it.