Member Perspective: “Stop Promoting ‘Looking Good’ While Disregarding Patient Health”

Doris2By Doris Ann Price, BCAction member

I was first diagnosed with primary (Stage II) breast cancer in 1993. My cancer returned as Stage IV (metastatic) in 2006. During my initial chemo and radiation treatments in 1993, I was approached about the Look Good, Feel Better program.

I refused to participate when I immediately recognized that there was a serious disconnect in the program’s approach. Why would I want to put toxic cocktails of cancer-causing chemicals on my skin (and hence, subject my immune-compromised body to them)?

I have been wary of toxic chemicals not only in cosmetics, but also in food and in household and personal products, since the early 1970s, after reading several books that heightened my awareness (and my understanding) that all of us “are what we eat” (as well as what products we apply to our body and use in our living environment!)

As a young wife and mother, I made it my personal goal to provide a healthful living environment for all of us—and that began with reading labels and inquiring about the safety and necessity of many household staples that appeared to contain questionable ingredients.

Gaining this knowledge felt empowering; but even more importantly, it made me sad and angry to realize that it’s necessary for you and me to carefully screen products that the FDA approves as “safe!” I realized then that safety and healthfulness have little (if nothing) to do with product approval or availability— it’s all about marketability!

When it comes to the Look Good, Feel Better program, I understand the desire for women to invite positivity while enduring challenging (and often appearance-altering) treatments—treatments that can undermine our self-confidence. It is a good thing to help support and reinforce the things in our life that make womenfeel better, but it is reprehensible to do so indiscriminately!  If not, I suppose it might also be logical to provide patients with cigarettes, too, if the goal is only feeling better (at the expense of health!)

The American Cancer Society and the Personal Care Products Council are promoting “looking good” while disregarding patient health. This is not only a superficial goal, but a dangerous one, since it imperils the recovery and continued well-being of women that the program purports to support. Products need to be screened for patient safety, not just offered because they are donated by the American Cancer Society’s corporate sponsors. The actual ‘cost’ to patient health should be the primary consideration.

This entry was posted in BCA News.