In celebration of Look Good Feel Better’s 25th year in Canada, they’ve named 25 Heritage Heroes who have either helped the charity make it to 25 inspiring years of helping women and teens with cancer feel like themselves again, or currently play an important role and provide a powerful voice to keep the program alive for years to come.
Mary Kay Independent Sales Director Maria Bennett of Lindsay, Ontario, is one of those amazing women, who has dedicated herself to supporting the cause since Day One.
Here, she shares what inspired her to become a volunteer, how the program helps women dealing with the appearance-related side effects of cancer, and why it’s important to give back to your community.
Q: What is it that made you become a volunteer with Look Good Feel Better 25 years ago?
I was new to Mary Kay at the time, but the community quickly became a sisterhood, so when the opportunity to start the program in Canada arose, it was something we all decided to do together.
We wanted to help women look and feel better.
I volunteered at my first workshop in Scarborough, then helped to bring the program to Oshawa, using my Mary Kay demo tubes to reach the first few workshops. Even though I live in Lindsay now, I truly don’t mind the hour drive to my workshop location, because I want to continue helping these women.
Q: What is your favourite workshop moment?
They’ve all been fabulous, but the one I immediately think of is one of my first-ever workshops in Scarborough 25 years ago.
A woman was sitting there telling her story about how she detected a spot under her arm, went through the process of getting tests and biopsies – it was as if she was telling my story, because I had gone through the exact same process, only my test results were negative. Hers wasn’t.
This woman was talking about it with no hair on her head and going through treatment, and I thought, “Oh my god, that could have been me.”
That was one of the first workshops I ever volunteered at and it solidified why I signed on to become a volunteer – to help women with cancer look and feel better during such a hard time in their lives. At one point or another, this could be any one of us.
Q: What would you say to a woman undergoing cancer treatment who wasn’t sure about attending a workshop?
A woman who is undergoing cancer treatment has many things to worry about. How she looks is not a priority, initially. However, when she is informed about how the program is specifically to help her Look Good and Feel better about herself, it opens the conversation to confirm how special she is and how this workshop is all about her. It is product neutral and there is no cost to attend. There are women who want to support her in her journey, either as participants or volunteers.
Q: What has volunteering with Look Good Feel Better taught you over the years?
Over the 25 years of volunteering with the Look Good Feel Better program and watching many women, from teens to grandmothers, even mothers and daughters in treatment at the same time, it has taught me that life is a blessing and we should never take it for granted.
Q: Why is it important to support such programs?
The Look Good Feel Better program is like no other. It is a support system that only women understand what it feels like to lose their hair, their identity. The simplest stroke of a powder brush can change their mood, their outlook on their day. Supporting this program is a privilege for me as a volunteer. It enriches my life knowing that every workshop makes a difference to those in attendance. Watching participants leave with lifted spirits, smiling and chatting amongst each other is beyond description. Their journey continues but they have more control about how they Look Good and Feel Better.