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Salon helps women overcome impacts of cancer treatment

Teresa Hull, director of Spa 122 in New Market, stands in the salon's lobby. Hull works with the American Cancer Society's Look Good, Feel Better program, offering free makeovers and tips to women with cancer so they can fight the physical toll of their treatments. Katie Demeria/Daily (Buy photo)

By Katie Demeria

NEW MARKET -- Teresa Hull of Spa 122 helped Janis White feel normal again.

White, 57, of New Market, was diagnosed with breast cancer in April 2011. A client of Spa 122 in New Market, she found out about the American Cancer Society's Look Good, Feel Better program through Hull.

Look Good, Feel Better is a free program in which women battling cancer can receive makeup and hair tips, helping them to continue looking like themselves while undergoing treatment.

"When you're in the midst of it, it does take over your life," White said. "This is a positive activity you can do while you're dealing with it."

Hull trained to become part of the program six years ago, after her mother went through it as well.

"It allows them to realize that the cancer has not taken their inner beauty or their soul," Hull said. "They don't become cancer."

Jane Palmer, 77, of Mount Jackson, also went through the program. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in September 2012.

Hull helped Palmer get through a particularly traumatic experience -- when her hair began falling out, Palmer decided to have Hull shave it off.

"When she got it all finished, she turned me around to look in the mirror and I burst into tears," Palmer said. "It was quite a shock, really, to see my head totally bald. I saw right away, though, in my face, how much I resembled my father."

Now cancer free as well, Palmer said 2013 was an especially traumatic year for her.

"It was a very emotional experience for me," she said. "Teresa just seemed to understand it. She really took care of me. To this day we have a bond, I think."

Hair loss is the physical change most often associated with cancer, but Hull pointed out that treatments impact much more than just the hair.

She helps her clients use makeup to return a healthy glow to the face, which can become strained through intense chemotherapy or radiation.

She also gives tips on working with eyelashes and eyebrows, helping them fight the impact of hair loss in these areas.

"It's giving them back some control in their lives," Hull said.

White said Hull helped her choose how to adjust her appearance, picking which makeup to wear and how she should wear her wig.

"She's very in-tune during the process. She knows how the medicines make you feel," White said. "Having cancer impacts every aspect of your life, and this program helps you feel normal. You can get up and say, OK, well I can put on some makeup and at least for a few hours I can feel a little normal."

Hull said she always works with the clients one-on-one, and according to White, this adds an element of trust, which allows the client to be vulnerable.

She said she was able to complain about her appearance to Hull, receiving tips in return, and she may not have felt comfortable doing so in a group.

"Teresa is just a very, very good person to hold your hand as you go through cancer," White said.

Those interested in signing up for the program can go to www.lookgoodfeelbetter.org or contact Spa122 at info@spa122.com.

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