Makeup gives patients a boost

Last updated 05:00 05/12/2012
Volunteer Denise Leighs applies makeup to cancer patient Vicki Wright
LOOKING GOOD: Volunteer Denise Leighs applies makeup to cancer patient Vicki Wright during a workshop to help women feel better while undergoing treatment.

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Helping women feel better about themselves while undergoing cancer treatment keeps Denise Leighs volunteering.

The Christchurch mother began giving her time to the Look Good Feel Better charity shortly after she lost her house in the September 2010 earthquake and her son, Sam, was diagnosed with testicular cancer.

The charity offers free workshops for women undergoing cancer treatment, where volunteers show them how to use makeup and skincare products, donated by the cosmetic industry.

"Obviously I couldn't do [Sam's] makeup, but . . . when you're up at the hospital and you see all these people, and especially women, their skin's changing dramatically. They're trying to hold it all together and this programme gives them something back," Leighs said. "I think makeup helps. It gives them more confidence."

Her 26-year-old son is now in remission.

The diagnosis came only a week after the family's home was destroyed in the September quake, but the experience made Leighs realise "things don't matter".

"It's about your family and getting them to feel better."

Leighs, an interior designer and consultant for Mary Kay cosmetics, said many women who came to Christchurch from other parts of the South Island for cancer treatment often did not have time to bring makeup or skincare products with them.

Speaking ahead of International Volunteer Day today, Leighs said volunteering was "just giving something back to someone else".

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