Charitable Choices: Susan Larkin, Vice-President of Look Good Feel Better

Look Good Feel Better is an organization aiming to help people manage the appearance-related effects of cancer and its treatment. We spoke with Susan Larkin, Vice-President, Programs and Marketing of Look Good Feel Better, to find out more about what they do.

Look Good Feel Better

Describe your charity/non-profit in a few sentences.

Look Good Feel Better is Canada’s only national charitable program dedicated to helping people manage the appearance-related effects of cancer and its treatment, and we just celebrated our 30th Anniversary in Canada!

The organization helps people with cancer feel like themselves again following a diagnosis, by offering complimentary workshops that provide education, information and emotional support to those facing cancer. We believe that the best medicine doesn’t always come in a bottle and cancer care needs to treat the whole person – including the well-being and the quality of life of the people that are affected.

What problem does it aim to solve?

A person diagnosed with cancer may not only lose her hair, eyelashes and eyebrows – they lose their sense of self and may feel vulnerable in many ways. That’s why Look Good Feel Better offers free workshops to show people certain steps they can take so they can look good, feel better and get closer to the person they were before they began fighting this debilitating disease. It takes one thing off the table at a time when there are so many other fears they may be facing.

We offer in-person and online workshops for women and teens, which are led by trained cosmetic advisors and hair alternative specialists, who cover three main topics including skincare & cosmetics, breast care, forms & garments, and wigs & hair alternatives.

We also recently launched an online men’s workshop where we cover topics such as skin care, sunscreen, shaving, managing hair loss and the use of colour cosmetics.

When did you start/join it?

I joined the Look Good Feel Better team in 2018, and have been with the organization for four years now.

What made you want to get involved?

Oh my goodness – where to start! The women who come to the workshops are so inspirational – and seeing the impact of our programs is such an honour. Plus we have more than one thousand volunteers who deliver the workshops across the country. Some of these people have been with us for 30 years – they are just amazing.

I’ve been working in the charitable sector my entire career – a fair amount in the healthcare space. When you are supporting an individual, you are also supporting their circle of family and loved ones. It’s not just one person – we are building strong communities. And when communities are strong, it impacts us all.

What was the situation like when you started?

Well, when I first started we were just starting to introduce some new programs and new topics. But just as we were getting that off the ground, COVID happened, so all of our in-person workshops closed. I was really proud of the team that we were up and running with our first online workshops just 10 days after the shutdown. There were some long days and we had a few bumps, but we knew that those facing cancer would be even more isolated – making supportive care programs like Look Good Feel Better even more crucial. We have had women join the workshop from their chemo chair, or at home with babies on their hips. What I love is the connection is still there – the women talk, they share, and they connect.

How has it changed since?

We are slowly re-opening our in-person workshops – each one is quite intensive. But we are very happy to be offering both in-person and online as it allows those facing cancer to choose the delivery method that works best for them. Some people may prefer the opportunity to gather face-to-face, but others may have barriers such as travel time and costs, childcare or simply not feeling well enough to leave their homes. And of course, we just launched an online workshop for men facing cancer. Many men also have concerns about changes to their appearance due to treatment but don’t know who to ask. We have added tips on shaving safely during treatment to avoid nicks and cuts, plus of course sun safety and taking care of your skin.

What more needs to be done?

With 2 in 5 Canadians expected to be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime – we know there are so many more people to reach. And new programs to support those in treatment – as well as post-treatment.

How can our readers help?

Look Good Feel Better programming is solely funded through donations from the community, and Canadians can kindly support our workshops here. We greatly appreciate every contribution! And if you know anyone facing a cancer diagnosis, please encourage them to sign up for one of our programs.

Do you have any events coming up?

Bubbles & Brunch is a fabulous, fun event that supports our programming. Amazing activations with some of the top skincare and cosmetic brands, great food, games, a silent auction plus a swag bag that is out-of-this-world – plus a great DJ! This year’s event is on April 23, 2023, with tickets going on sale shortly!

We are also continuing to re-open our in-person women’s workshops across the Greater Toronto Area, and the country, and Canadians can find a workshop near them by visiting our website.

Where can we follow you?

Canadians can visit our website to learn more about the organization, and they can follow us on Instagram and Facebook.

PAY IT FORWARD: What is an awesome local charity that you love?

Can I choose two? For locals, I love Woodgreen. And for international work, I’m a big fan of UNICEF Canada.

 

 

About Demian Vernieri 616 Articles
Demian is an Argentinian retired musician, avid gamer and editor for the Montréal Guardian, Toronto Guardian, Calgary Guardian and Vancouver Guardian websites.