Looking good program provides silver lining for cancer patients

By Tara Whitsed

For cancer patients, the recovery journey is a challenging one.

But with the help of the Look Good Feel Better program, Shepparton patients have had a silver lining to their recovery for the past 20 years. 

The program, run by the Cancer Patients Foundation, sees patients take part in workshops that teach them how to manage the appearance-related side effects caused by treatment for any type of cancer.

Look Good Feel Better program manager for Victoria and Tasmania Faye Venning thanked Goulburn Valley Health for its 20-year partnership, presenting oncology nurse unit manager Linley Smith with a special plaque at the hospital this week.

Ms Smith highlighted the great work of the social workers who co-ordinated patients.

Shepparton’s Kim O’Keeffe said she had been involved with the program since it began in the Goulburn Valley and said it was very rewarding.

“It makes for a nice day for everyone and everyone looks so beautiful,” she said.

“It is nice to be pampered when you’re going through treatment and not feeling your best.”

Ms O’Keeffe said the workshops always had a "girls’ day out" feel to them and were a great chance for fellow patients to spend time with people in a similar situation to them.

Virginia Keller, who was GV Health’s social worker manager at the time of the program’s inception, said it was social worker Jocelyn Stuart who was a real driver of its launch in Shepparton.

She approached Ms O’Keeffe along with Marcia Grieg and the two have volunteered for the past 20 years.

“The (patients) used to have to get up at 4am and travel to Melbourne,” Ms Grieg said.

Ms O’Keeffe said they had also recently begun a men’s program, which had been successful to date.

“It’s such a wonderful thing to be a part of,” she said.

The program’s dedicated volunteers take participants through skincare techniques to address common side effects of cancer such as dryness and sun sensitivity; makeup tips to help correct and conceal redness, sallowness, pigmentation and dark circles, as well as techniques for drawing on eyebrows; and advice on headwear, including scarf styling and wig selection.

Each participant receives a Confidence Kit, full of skincare and makeup products donated by the cosmetic industry to use as tools for application throughout the workshop and for continued use in their own homes.

Ms O’Keeffe said they were always looking for more volunteers and those who were interested could visit the Look Good Feel Better website at