The Image Recovery Center was founded in 1993 at Union Memorial Hospital in Baltimore and later expanded into a national program. The Pembroke Pines center, attached to the Breast Cancer Center at Memorial Hospital West, opened in 2008. It is open to anyone, including people who are not going through cancer treatment.
Another nationwide program helping women with cancer is Look Good Feel Better, a program run by the American Cancer Society that teaches beauty techniques and helps manage the appearance-related side effects of cancer treatment.
The program, which puts women into small groups with a licensed cosmetologist, is free and available at numerous hospitals and cancer centers including Baptist Hospital, Jackson Memorial, Mercy, North Shore Medical Center and Palmetto General in Miami-Dade, and Broward General, Cleveland Clinic, Holy Cross, Coral Springs Medical Center, Memorial, UM Sylvester at Deerfield and Westside Regional in Broward.
“It’s a small, hands-on class with usually no more than six to eight women. Each woman gets a free bag of products,” said Janet Khamsi, area coordinator for the Look Good Feel Better program in the Miami-Dade area. “With makeup from MAC, Bobbi Brown, Almay, Clinique, etc., they are given everything necessary to go through the 12 steps of the makeover.”
But more than the physical transformations and makeovers, women going through cancer are able to lift their spirits at the Image Recovery Center and the Look Good Feel Better program.
“I heard a quote that said ‘Life is not about getting through the storm, it’s about learning how to dance in the rain,’ ” Monteleone-McGinn said. “I’m not doing the rumba yet. I’m learning how to get though the storm still — and I’m going to be excited when the storm is gone — but now, I am learning things and maybe tangoing a little.”