By the nature of its side effects, cancer treatment can make a private battle a very public affair. For a woman with cancer, having a bald head, pale skin or a missing breast can make her feel like she's being targeted by a bright spotlight and a banner that says, "Cancer patient."
But now more than ever, there are resources for women that will put the spotlight back on their work, their accomplishments and their life -- and change that banner to simply read, "Woman."
In the Milpitas and South Bay areas, there are numerous resources available to breast cancer survivors to help them restore their sense of well-being and beauty with custom garments, fashion accessories, makeup, and hairstyling services. Among them are:
- Strada Day Spa
2292 Lincoln Ave.
San Jose, CA 95125
Hairstyling, makeup, massage services for cancer survivors.
- Hanger Prosthetics & Orthotics
2505 Samaritan Dr.
San Jose, CA
Specialty breast forms, bra pockets, custom fitting for bras.
- The Next Step Boutique
15400 National Ave., Suite120
Los Gatos, CA 95032
Breast forms, mastectomy bras, swim forms, bathing suits.
Nationwide Prosthesis Program
Westfield Valley Fair,
2400 Forest Ave., Santa Clara
In-person fittings for prosthetics and mastectomy bras, as well as complimentary "pocketing" of any non-mastectomy bra.
- American Cancer Society
747 Camden Ave., Suite B
Campbell, CA 95008
In addition, the American Cancer Society offers a Look Good and Feel Better program designed for cancer survivors. Among services offered are hairstyle, makeup, and beauty tips tailored to women facing cancer.
In Santa Clara County, these healthcare facilities are part of the Look Good Feel Better program:
- Cancer Care Institute
- El Camino Hospital Cancer Center
- Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford
- American Cancer Society
- Kaiser Permanente – Santa Clara
- Stanford Cancer Center
- Good Samaritan Hospital
- Santa Clara Valley Medical Center
- Palo Alto Medical Foundation, Mountain View
For more information, contact the ACS Patient Service Center at (866) 460-6550.
In recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, there are numerous local activities planned this week. Among them is a health and beauty spa day for breast cancer survivors. It is set for 4 to 9 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 27, at Casa Vicky Mexican Restaurant & Cuisine, 792 E. Julian St, San Jose. The event will include raffle prizes, music, food, massages, teeth whitening, beauty makeup tips, and information about healthy vitamins. Admission is free. For details, call 408-706-0899.
Other programs throughout the nation also offer individualized help to cancer patients, including Girl on the Go, which provides private or in-home wig consultations for women with cancer. It has locations in 12 states, including Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, New Jersey, North and South Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Wisconsin.
Breast cancer survivor Sheril Cohen started the business after her own struggles with hair loss that were matched only by the frustrating process of getting a wig.
"Wig shopping was awful," Cohen shares on her website. "[The attendant] tried to sell me this wig. I thought it was a cute cut, but I thought it made me older and unattractive. I cried. I felt sexy with my long hair. With this wig on I felt like a suburban fortysomething-year-old soccer mom. I was successful, single, a thirtysomething NYC woman. I wanted to retain me—not become someone I did not recognize."
Now Cohen proudly sells wigs of all kinds—synthetic, hybrid, human hair—to women all over the country, providing, as one of her clients says, privacy.
"I felt so like myself in my wig," said Ellen, a client. "No one knew. People who knew I had been diagnosed but did not know much else used to come up to me at events and ask when I was going to start chemo or if I had chosen a doctor yet. I did not have to tell anyone anything I did not want to tell them."
As women in chemotherapy treatment discover, hair loss isn't limited to their locks. It means no eyebrows, no eyelashes and, as Cohen points out, one bright spot—no shaving.
Women can visit a lash studio to get back that feminine flutter of the lashes, and maybe even amp up their look with a few sexy, extra-long lash extensions.
There also resources online for women who have had surgery during treatment. KA Mastectomy Bras and Apparel, started by survivor Kimberly Ashmand, features pretty and practical bras tailored to the unique needs of survivors, as well as some with a little lace and sparkle to help women feel sexy again.
Adopting a new look during treatment is about more than simply feeling good for the moment—it can be another weapon in a woman's arsenal against cancer, giving her a deep well of positivity to sustain her.
TELL US: We want to know what matters most to you, whether it's lashes, lipstick or lingerie. Share in the comments section below what aspects of a makeover makes you feel the most beautiful.
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