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Beauty workshop helps cancer patients

'Be Beautiful' workshop gives women advice on hair loss and skincare

Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News
Philippa Glover, an expatriate from New Zealand who was diagnosed with breast cancer earlierthis year, takes part in a tutorial at the ‘Be Beautiful’ workshop.
Gulf News

Dubai: Just how necessary a support group offering beauty tutorials on drawing eyebrows or wrapping a headscarf on thinning hair is clear when cancer patient Philippa Glover said: “It’s fantastic. I struggle every day because my eyebrows have thinned and I have lost most of my eyelashes. I need to know how to make myself look better.”

The support group ‘Be Beautiful’ is a monthly series of two-hour workshops aimed at helping female cancer patients learn hands-on techniques to manage the visible side effects of chemotherapy and radiation treatments that affect the skin, hair and nails, among others. The first workshop was held on Wednesday this week (September 19, 2012) at the Dubai Ladies Club.

“Most days I look awful, especially since I do not have hair [on her scalp]. I want to be able to wake up in the morning and do my make-up to look and feel better”
-Glover, an expatriate New Zealander with breast cancer
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Glover, an expatriate New Zealander who works in finance, was diagnosed with breast cancer in February this year. She told Gulf News that she appreciates the aim of the workshop.

“Most days I look awful, especially since I do not have hair [on her scalp]. I want to be able to wake up in the morning and do my make-up to look and feel better,” she said.

Another breast cancer patient at the workshop, Katherine Brownlie, said she has started losing clumps of her and her doctor advised her to cut it short.

Speaking to Gulf News, she said: “I have a particular way of styling my long hair right now, but I do not know what to do when I won’t have hair.”

The Australian accountant was diagnosed in July this year and is undergoing treatment but admits that the experience is a challenging one. “There are bad days – the stress breaks me down. Such a workshop will not help my fight with cancer but will make me feel good about myself and give me the confidence I need to step outside.”

The workshop and its outreach programme was started by Zena Fadhil, a beauty expert who had worked as a volunteer with cancer patients in Canada in a similar programme called ‘Look Good, Feel Better’ for three years.

She said: “With cancer, a huge part is psychological. Patients need to feel as beautiful as they can through the treatments. Part of the programme is to help women with their self esteem. We teach them a few skincare basics and minimum make-up look to accentuate their features and boost their sense of well-being.”

She is joined in the workshops by beauty expert Nadeen Kay, who specialises in skincare, and style expert Mirna Abdullah, who has also helped patients in an Abu Dhabi hospital.

The group’s founder, Hanadi El Imam, a media professional working in television, hopes the workshops are a small way of smoothing the road to recovery.

“They may not feel like themselves with all the changes due to the treatment, but they definitely want to look like themselves,” she said. “They need to know that they look good, feel better, when they step out in public. The initiative has had a huge response from hospitals like Tawam Hospital, Dubai Hospital and American Hospital, and cancer support groups like Breast Friends. We hope to introduce this to other Gulf countries.”