FROM THE NEWS-LEDGER — OCT 23, 2013 –
By Anita Fizhugh
Fitzhugh Public Relations
Randy Smedley of West Sacramento meets a lot of women who are losing their hair and are embarrassed to leave home. They don’t look like themselves anymore. They don’t feel the same. These women are battling cancer, and the effects of chemotherapy and radiation are altering their appearance– and self-esteem.
Smedly is a volunteer for the American Cancer Society’s “Look Good Feel Better” program. “Look Good Feel Better” holds free workshops for women hoping to combat the appearance-related side effects of cancer treatment.
“I am proud to assist in providing so many cancer patients with step-by-step makeovers that include make-up application, nail care techniques and advice on how to deal with hair loss by wearing wigs, scarves, hats and other hairpieces. I see the look of joy in these women’s eyes when they recognize the person they see in the mirror,” said Smedly.
Randy knows exactly how these cancer patients feel —because she was one of them.
“My journey with cancer began in December, 2008, when one phone call turned my world upside down. My physician told me that I had triple negative breast cancer – an aggressive cancer that does not respond to treatments such as hormonal therapy. I was told that the chances of triple negative breast cancer returning were greatest in the first three years. After that, the chances decreased dramatically,” she said.
Knowing that she would worry about every possible ache and pain in her breasts, Smedly elected to have a bilateral mastectomy. She met with a surgeon and an oncologist. It was during one of these appointments that she was handed a plastic binder with information on what to expect as a cancer patient. On the inside flap was a business card for the American Cancer Society including its 1-800-227-2345 number to call for help.
“One restless night, I called that number. A sympathetic young man answered the phone and listened to me… really listened. He ended up connecting me with the American Cancer Society’s ‘Reach for Recovery’ program that was able to identify a volunteer who had survived triple negative breast cancer. It was the beginning of what would become a life-long friendship,” Smedly shared.
At one of her chemotherapy appointments, she noticed a pamphlet for the “Look Good Feel Better” program. She decided to attend one of the workshops, was fitted with a wig and learned a few new make-up tricks. “My daughter told me I looked cute—and I felt that way,” remembers Randy. “It’s been five years since my diagnosis and my cancer is still in remission. I know I’m fortunate for my outcome and feel strongly that it’s my turn to help other cancer patients look and feel their best. And as a cancer survivor, I know there is no better feeling.”
Smedly joined around 20,000 area residents for the American Cancer Society’s “Making Strides Against Breast Cancer” rally on Sunday, Oct. 20, at the Capitol.
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