We are very proud of our partnership with not for profit charity Look Good Feel Better. We have been supporting the charity since 2016, and help by raising awareness, fundraising and partnership support, along with product donations.
We sat down with General Manager of Look Good Feel Better Carol Kavurma to chat about the charity and their workshops.
Nude by Nature (NBN): Can you tell us a little bit about Look Good Feel Better.
Carol: Look Good Feel Better is a free community service program dedicated to teaching cancer patients how to manage the appearance related side effects of their cancer treatment. We do this in a group workshop environment and we hold workshops for men, women and teens. This year we have approximately 1,000 workshops scheduled in about 180 venues right around Australia. Our workshops cover skincare, make-up and headwear, and we provide tips and tricks to help with the appearance related side effects so that might be redness, that they experience with chemo or discolouration, sallowness and dark patches. We teach them how to use colour correctors and concealers to manage that. Of course, a big concern is hair loss for many patients so we teach them how to draw on eyebrows and in our headwear segment we demonstrate with hats, scarves, scarf styling, turbans and wigs and they are able to have a play with the options that are available for them. It’s all about building everyone’s confidence and that’s exactly what happens. It’s goosebumpy. You walk in and there’s this group of patients that have never met, they’re really quiet and they don’t know really quite what to expect. By the end of it they’ve swapped numbers, you can’t stop them chatting and you’ve got to kick them out of the room because it’s been booked by someone else after us.
NBN: So it’s not just metro, it’s regional as well?
Carol: Yes, close to half of our venues are in regional areas. In addition to the workshop program we also have what we call our home-delivered Confidence Kits which are for patients who can’t attend a workshop for health, travel or personal reasons. We send them a Confidence Kit full of all of the cosmetics and skin care that they would receive in a workshop as well as a booklet and an instructional DVD which Clint (NBN Global Brand Ambassador) is in, and so they can follow the steps and use the products at home. Obviously, it’s not the same as being at a workshop because it’s lovely to be in that group environment but it’s something we can do for those patients who can’t get to a workshop.
NBN: Is it a whole day?
Carol: The workshops run for about 2½ hours, and it’s lovely. As much as we talk about the appearance related side effects, we see a change in outlook in our workshops so we’re helping to make a difference inside and out. Participants are sitting in a room with people who are going through exactly what they’re going through. There’s no judgement and nobody needs to pretend like they may at home for their friends and family. They can just be themselves, and a lot of times we hear from them and they tell us it’s the first time anyone’s seen them without their wig or their hat on and it’s amazing that participants are comfortable enough to take them off in our workshops because they feel safe.
NBN: That’s a very quick thing to create. If you think about 2½ hours - that they feel that comfortable in a room full of strangers to be doing something that they can’t do in front of their own family. That’s massive.
Carol: It’s pretty amazing.
NBN: How did Look Good Feel Better start?
Carol: It started in the USA in 1989 thanks to an oncologist who had a patient who was pretty depressed; she didn’t want to come out of her room at the hospital. He had a friend who worked in the cosmetic industry and so the oncologist asked, ‘Is there any way you could arrange for a makeover so she can feel better about herself, and leave her room?’. So they did that, and they saw the power of it as this patient was happy and laughed for the first time in weeks and they thought, ‘This could actually be something we can do’. LGFB came about thanks to that oncologist and his friend and the American cosmetic industry. The program was brought to Australia a year later in 1990 thanks to the Australian Cosmetic industry, and in that time we’ve seen over 130,000 patients in our workshops in Australia. We rely heavily on volunteers to help run the workshops and we have 1,300 around the country who deliver the workshops for us. The majority of them are trained beauticians, make-up artists and hairdressers however if people come on-board and want to volunteer, and have the time and passion then we have no problems training them up.
NBN: 130,000 patients since 1990 in Australia. How many people is that per year?
Carol: We see between 8,000-10,000 in a year.
NBN: Have you ever had people who’ve attended a workshop becoming volunteers?
Carol: Yes, we do - we find previous participants, who have recovered do sometimes come back and become volunteers with us.
NBN: Do you have any stories that you can think of that, or times that have stuck in your head where you’ve thought to yourself, ‘We’ve really made a big difference’, to that person or a family?
Carol: Yes, we’ve got thousands of stories. I think one that’s definitely stuck with me was a participant Courtenay, who had come to a workshop and loved it and started working quite closely with us on various media opportunities that came up. We had also asked her to speak at our annual fundraising gala, Dream Ball. Unfortunately, Courtenay became sick again quite suddenly and passed away. Her husband Troy is probably one of the most incredibly brave men I’ve ever met in my life, and he decided that he would honour Courtenay, and speak on behalf of their family at Dream Ball. He gave the most incredible speech and there was no fanfare, no production. We just had a photo of their family behind him and he spoke. It was incredible. I’ve organised a lot of events in my time and this is the only time where you could hear a pin drop. Troy shared their story and I’m still so humbled by it. We made such an impact on their family and for him to do that, with no expectation from us. Troy said, “Courtenay was always positive, strong and unrelenting in everything she wanted to achieve...Look Good Feel Better re-ignited that spark in her at one of her lowest moments...I'm not sure without it that our kids or I would have as many positive, heart-warming and loving memories of the last year or so with Courtenay”.
NBN: NBN have been partnering with you guys for about two years. What do you see as being the most valuable parts of our relationship?
Carol: Oh gosh, what don’t we see as being valuable! Honestly, I can’t thank NBN enough. We’re so grateful for your all encompassing support and there’s no expectation back. It’s really obvious to all of us, to the staff and the volunteers that you really believe in what we do, 100%, and that’s why you’re supporting us. The stock donations with each patient who attends a workshop receiving a Natural Mineral Cover, and the financial support are incredible but everything else that you have helped with like the Christmas parties for our NSW volunteers, and skilled support from the team like Vicki’s assisting with some planning and modelling, filming of our instructional DVD, photography - the list goes on…
NBN: It’s our pleasure.
Carol: I’ve been working in charity for a long time and it’s the dream to work with a company who just absolutely believes in you and supports you with everything, and it’s not just about making a financial donation. You’re really invested in what we do. You can see it. Every time we come to your office everybody knows who we are, and you’re doing little fundraising activities with each other. It’s amazing. I think every charity would want a few Nude by Nature’s!
NBN: I’ve had a little bit to do with a charity which is for a very rare form of cancer, called NETs or neuroendocrine cancers because my brother had it. So everything you’re saying it’s just like, ‘Yes, I totally get it’, because I know from them how hard it is and how hard you fight to get every dollar.
Carol: Definitely. There’s a lot of amazing charities out there and for us, literally every dollar we receive goes straight back into the program. It costs about $1,000 to run a workshop and we need about $1.3 million a year to run our program. Any additional funding we receive means we can put on more workshops.
NBN: What’s up for 2018? What’s big things are you planning?
Carol: We’re going to work as hard as we can with the community and health professionals to spread the word about Look Good Feel Better so we can help more patients in our workshops. Plus, of course focus on our major fundraising campaigns, including Feel Better Month in September, to ensure we can support the patients we will see.
NBN: Yes, to continue supporting even more patients especially when they’ve been through so much, and they feel like absolute rubbish to actually be able to get off the bed and be part of a workshop...
Carol: Yes, to feel like themselves again. That’s what they say; ‘I feel like myself again’. And the other big thing is that they don’t want people to look at them like they’re cancer patients.
NBN: Especially if you lose your hair. I can’t even imagine. It would be such a hard thing to get over mentally.
Carol: I was chatting to a previous participant last week who said ‘For me, I just couldn’t stand it when I’d be walking with my kids and people would look at me with pity, and look at my kids with sadness. That got to me so much. I used to not even want to leave the house’. It was that pity. She didn’t want people to feel pity so when she came to the workshop she felt confident and empowered and could face the world. It’s one thing you can have control over. There’s so many things you don’t have control over when you’re going through cancer treatment. You’re in the hands of healthcare professionals who you have to trust but our workshops teach you how you can have some control with your outward appearance.
NBN: Positivity. It makes a big difference. So, if people want to volunteer. What do they need to do?
Carol: They just need to go onto our website. There is a Volunteer tab, where there’s a form that needs to be completed, and then we’ll be in touch for a phone interview and a criminal record check as it’s a requirement for the hospitals. We also ask prospective volunteers to observe a workshop so they know what to expect.
NBN: That’s brilliant, and it comes back again to the patients and the impact LGFB is making personally to them.
Carol: It’s pretty amazing. When you’re seeing it at every workshop; the difference that you’re making and you’re not ever wondering if it’s good or bad, was it worth my while. You can see it.
NBN: Thank you so much for your time, Carol. It’s been wonderful chatting with you.
Discover more about Look Good Feel Better - https://lgfb.org.au