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Look Good Feel Better

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Cancer survivors share tears, triumphs

By Jamie Baker-Nantz

Eleven women gathered in the St. Elizabeth Medical Center Grant County conference room on Monday night.

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The group included two sisters and sister-in-laws. The others were strangers.

One had long hair, a few had short hair, one sported a bright, pink hat. The women were tall, short, skinny and not-so-skinny. Some were quiet and reserved and some couldn’t contain their giggles.

Their bond – they are all survivors. Their enemy – cancer!

They took turns introducing themselves and sharing their cancer journey.

One had beaten melanoma, another was preparing for her third cancer surgery and several were celebrating that their cancer had gone into remission.

They laughed, they cried and by the end of the night they were aglow with the help of the American Cancer Society’s Look Good, Feel Better program.

LGFB gives cancer survivors a bag of free makeup and a class on how to apply it and care for their skin.

“This is amazing,” said Crystal Bare of Williamstown.

“They didn’t know how much I needed this,” she said, peering eagerly into her bright red bag filled with makeup and lotion.

For Karen Collins, an employee at St. Elizabeth, a volunteer with the ACS and a cancer survivor, working with the women during the free class, held several times a year, is better than any gift.

“This is like Christmas for me,” Collins said. “I love helping you guys open your stuff.”

During the class, there was plenty of banter as the women opened up about their journey.

They shared stories and jokes appreciated by other survivors.

“The best part of chemo was not having to shave your legs for 18 months,” one of the women quipped.

“Well, you might loose your hair, but it comes back in weird places,” another laughed.

Collins was as proud as any parent as she watched the women transform before her eyes.

“It amazes me,” she said. “No matter how many times we have this class, I’m just amazed,” Collins said.

She’s been a volunteer with the LGFB program for nearly two years, as well as Reach To Recovery, another ACS program.

“I just don’t think people are aware of all the services that are available to them, many at no charge,” Collins said.

Collins, also serves as a volunteer with the Grant County Relay For Life, the signature fund-raising event for the ACS.

“I don’t think people realize that the money we raise at the relay goes for things like this, right here in Grant County,” she said.

LGFB is one of several programs of the ACS that is funded by the annual Relay For Life. Other money raised at the event, which is scheduled for 7 p.m. May 21 at Grant County Park in Crittenden, is also used for research purposes.

Jeff Walters, a cancer survivor from Dry Ridge, credits that research with keeping him alive.

“If not for the American Cancer Society and the relay for life I probably wouldn’t be here today,” he said. “Because of the research made possible with the money we raised, I’m alive and ready to give back.”

For more information about programs of the ACS, go to www.cancer.org or call 1-800-ACS-2345.