Dealing With Cancer A Passion to Help Women - CTgov Portal

By Vanessa Brown,2014-01-10 20:32
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Dealing With Cancer A Passion to Help Women - CTgov Portal

     Michael Fedele


    Dealing With Cancer: A Passion to Help Women Look Their Best During A Difficult Time

In a sunny conference room at Norwalk Hospital‟s Whittingham Cancer Center, Carol Fedele of

    Stamford is demonstrating how to comb out a lovely shoulder length wig to a group of nine assembled

    ladies. In front of each of the women is a large, tabletop, make-up mirror and a bright red shopping bag

    filled with cosmetics and brushes from upscale companies like Bobbi Brown, Chanel and MAC. Carol,

    who is not only the wife of Connecticut‟s Lieutenant Governor Michael Fedele but also a licensed hair stylist, is tossing out a plethora of helpful hints that only a wig specialist would know.

“Acrylic wigs are sensitive to heat so don‟t use curling irons on them and watch out because even the

    dishwasher on the dry cycle or an open oven door can damage them,” she explains. She goes on to

    suggest that you can Febreeze a wig that smells “less than fresh” and that human hair wigs can be

    washed with regular shampoo but acrylic need special wig shampoo.

Her commentary is upbeat, at times even funny. After all, she is lecturing on fake hair. The ladies are

    listening intently and when one of the tips elicits laughter, one could almost believe that this was the

    hair and makeup version of a Tupperware party if it weren‟t for the fact that these nine women are all

    wearing scarves or turbans, here at the Whittingham Cancer Center.

    The occasion is the American Cancer Society‟s Look Good Feel Better program, which is a community-based, free, national service. LGFB teaches female cancer patients beauty tips to look

    better and feel good about how they look during chemotherapy and radiation treatments. Volunteer

    beauty professionals, like Carol Fedele, lead small groups, usually about 6 to 10 women, through

    practical, hands-on experience. Women learn about makeup, skin care, nail care, and ways to deal with

    hair loss such as with wigs, turbans, and scarves. Each woman gets a free makeup kit to use during and

    after the workshop.

“You should think of looking for this wig when you still have hair,” Carol suggests to the nine. “Buy it

    at your leisure so that you‟re not worrying about it. And with a synthetic wig, be sure to use a brush

    without natural bristles; there‟s too much static. If your wig does get static-y, use a dryer sheet on it.


    Office of the Lieutenant Governor • State Capitol – Room 304 • Hartford, CT 06106

    Phone (860) 524-7384 • FAX (860) 524-7304

    Web Address • E-Mail

     Michael Fedele


“Incidentally, if it‟s uncomfortable at first, use a little cornstarch. But most important to remember, it‟s

    only temporary. You‟ll look back and say, „That‟s done.‟ So don‟t get too caught up in it. You‟ll be

    over it. You‟ll be fine.”

She then goes on to explain how to make a turban out of a t-shirt and how to fashion a wig liner from

    an old pair of cut-off pantyhose. She gives her feelings on wigs needing a professional trim, shaped to

    your face, thinned out by someone who knows what they‟re doing – and doing it a little at a time (wig hair doesn‟t grow back). She offers the advice that with a doctor‟s prescription, in many cases wigs are

    covered by insurance. And she does it all with a confident smile and bounce that makes one feel that

    all really will be right with the world.

Carol has been a licensed cosmetologist since 1976 but had not worked as a hair stylist since before her

    children were born. In 2004, her high school-aged daughter had an after school job working at a wig

    salon in Greenwich, where she found out about the Look Good Feel Better program. Volunteers for

    this program must be licensed beauty professionals, and her daughter suggested to her mother that she

    might want to try it.

“I‟ve been blessed not to have to work,” Carol explains. “Now it‟s time and it‟s worthy of all the time I

    can give it.” She does the Look Good Feel Better programs at four area hospitals: Stamford,

    Greenwich, Norwalk and St. Vincent‟s and sometimes at the Norma Pfriem Breast Cancer Center at Bridgeport Hospital. She is also certified to do training for LGFB volunteers. The LGFB sessions are

    usually every two months. Training is once a year.

    “Isn‟t it wonderful?” Carol asks. “The women come in with these big eyes, strained faces. Then they start to relax, to share with each other. If I were in that position, I would love for someone to make me

    feel at ease and tell me it‟s going to be okay. That‟s what we women do for each other.

“Women feel more in control. Once you feel in control, you deal with it so much better. With cancer,

    there‟s so much you can‟t control, so much you can‟t hide. You want to look like yourself. It really is

    true, when you look good, you feel better.”

Carol recalls one woman who said it was the first time she had been out of bed in a month but she had

    her make-up on, her wig on. Her friend saw her and said, “Wow! You look great!”


    Office of the Lieutenant Governor • State Capitol – Room 304 • Hartford, CT 06106

    Phone (860) 524-7384 • FAX (860) 524-7304

    Web Address • E-Mail

     Michael Fedele


    “We try very hard to make the presentation attractive….nothing clinical. We serve refreshments. We don‟t talk about treatment or medication. The women may interact with each other and discuss those

    things but it‟s not part of our program. The cosmetology industry donates the packets of high-end make-up, which they get to take home and use.”

The American Cancer Society‟s Wilton office has drawers of new donated wigs which are available to

    anyone who‟s in need – even if the donated wig is only used for an exercise wig or a cooking wig.

    “Some people lose hair very quickly and have replacement hair quickly. It‟s a very individual thing,”

    Carol explains.

“Cancer has touched us all,” she says. “You do whatever you can do to help. There‟s a very special

    bond to be had through Look Good Feel Better. That‟s what women can do for women.”


    Office of the Lieutenant Governor • State Capitol – Room 304 • Hartford, CT 06106

    Phone (860) 524-7384 • FAX (860) 524-7304

    Web Address • E-Mail

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