Look good, feel better (about your brows)...
Treating the psychological needs of patients with cancer is as important as medical treatment, according to nurse consultant Natalie Doyle, who leads the Living With and Beyond Cancer service at The Royal Marsden Hospital in London. In Natalie’s compassionate hands, this extends to such seemingly peripheral, but actually crucial, issues as redesigning the hospital gowns so that they no longer have the demeaning backless opening they once did... ‘When you go into hospital, you tend to leave yourself at the door,’ says Natalie. ‘People with cancer need to be helped to maintain their sense of self. I am here to say, “It is all right to think about you, not just about what’s happening to the cancer.”’
Appearance is key for many women patients: ‘I try to enable people to be themselves, to wear their own comfy clothes and put on make-up. These things brighten the hard job of being a cancer patient.'
‘Losing hair, brows and lashes – plus skin changes – are “badges” of cancer. Even if you don’t think you are conscious of your appearance, once it’s challenged, most people realise it does matter to them.’
Natalie is unstinting in her praise for beauty industry charity Look Good Feel Better (LGFB ), which runs make-up workshops for women with cancer in hospitals nationwide and provides gift bags: ‘It always gives the participants [day patients at The Royal Marsden] an uplift because they have permission to make themselves look special.’
The effect ripples out to family, too. ‘One lady who had been reluctant to attend a workshop came out looking stunning,’ says Natalie. ‘Her husband was so delighted he wept. He told me, “I’ve got my wife back.”’
While there is no evidence it has a direct effect on the disease, ‘feeling good about your appearance can help patients get through treatment,’ Natalie says. ‘Applying make-up allows you to control something about yourself when everything else is outside your control.’
Natalie’s hope is that the philosophy behind Look Good Feel Better (www.lookgoodfeelbetter.co.uk) will inform the ethos of care for cancer patients. ‘Every day matters and we should never take away the importance of these simple things.’
ON THE MARCH FOR LGFB
Helping people with cancer to deal with thinning or lost eyebrows is a key part of Look Good Feel Better’s 12-step skincare and make-up programme. Reflecting this concern, Benefit Cosmetics has just launched the Brow Arch March with Debenhams stores nationwide to raise funds for LGFB. Simply go to one of the 50-plus Benefit Brow Bars at Debenhams stores in the UK and you will receive a complimentary brow shape worth £11.50 for a requested minimum donation of £5 to LG FB. Find out more at www.browarchmarch.com.
WELL FIT, SAM!
FitFlops are famous as super-comfy, leg-lengthening, back-cherishing footwear for chic girls about town – and now men are catching up. There are good precedents: Sam Mendes was spotted sporting a pair of men’s lace-up Supertone Nubuck Slate Grey FitFlops (£36) at the Skyfall premiere; a pinstriped mandarin has been seen striding around Whitehall in Lewis Black FitFlops (£69), and consultant podiatrist Dr Tariq Khan recommends them to patients. So wise up, guys! Available from www.fitflop.co.uk.
CHILDHOOD ECZEMA ON TRIAL
Silk underwear is said to help children with eczema. To see if this anecdotal evidence stands up medically, UK experts, led by Professor Kim Thomas at the University of Nottingham Centre of Evidence Based Dermatology, are seeking children with moderate or severe eczema for the £1 million CLOTHES (Clothing For the Relief of Eczema Symptoms) trial. The work, funded by the National Institute for Health Research, involves NHS Trusts in Nottingham, London, Cambridge, Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight. Children enrolled will participate for eight months – to find out if your child is eligible, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.