Local woman recommends Look Good… Feel Better for people facing cancer

Nancy Solomonson enjoys working in her extensive gardens as she re-gains her strength following treatment for stage 4 ovarian cancer. Nancy participated in the Look Good… Feel Better program through Winneshiek Medical Center, a program she recommends to anyone in active cancer treatment.

The recommendation of good friends and faith in God prompted Pastor Nancy Solomonson to accept an invitation to participate in the American Cancer Society’s Look Good… Feel Better program offered through Winneshiek Medical Center.

Nancy was diagnosed with stage 4 ovarian cancer just a few short weeks after retiring from her pastoral duties. The cancer had traveled throughout much of her body, and she and her doctors at Mayo Clinic-Rochester and Winneshiek Medical Center agreed upon a very aggressive treatment plan. “They surgically removed all the cancer they could see from my abdomen, lungs and lymph nodes; then, I took as much chemo as my body could tolerate,” says Nancy. She adds, “Thank God for those surgeons.”

The chemotherapy caused noticeable skin changes, and Nancy lost all her hair. “People generally do not fill their wardrobe with head coverings in case they get cancer. I had very little to work with, and didn’t have the energy to even figure out how to manage a wig,” says Nancy.

Nancy’s cousin had experience with the American Cancer Society’s Look Good… Feel Better program in her hometown, and recommended Nancy look into the program to help her deal with her skin and hair changes. “Because my cousin was so positive about the program, I immediately agreed to participate when local Look Good… Feel Better volunteer Mary Jane Maly gave me a call,” says Nancy.

Upcoming Classes

The Winneshiek Medical Center Cancer Resource Center and the American Cancer Society offer Look Good…Feel Better classes to help women, men and youth undergoing cancer treatments learn techniques to help them manage appearance-related side effects of cancer treatment and thereby improve their quality of life. Upcoming classes are scheduled on June 9, September 8 and November 10 from 2-4 pm at WMC. The classes are free to anyone in active cancer treatment, and participants can register by calling the WMC Cancer Resource Center at 563-387-5271. Individual sessions are also available with prior arrangement.

Participants receive free skin care kits valued at $350 each, and Winneshiek County Celebration of Life provides gift certificates to purchase a wig or a head covering of the patient’s choice. Nancy says, “Mary Jane presented many head covering options for me to choose from, and if I liked one, she gave it to me. I felt so blessed that these resources were available when I needed them most.”

Funds designated for cancer care through the Winneshiek Medical Center Foundation also support the program. WMC Foundation Coordinator Holly Kanengieter says, “The WMC Cancer Resource Center provides needed resources like Look Good… Feel Better, and gifts to the WMC Foundation support that work for our patients and caregivers.”

Nancy was declared “cancer-free” just six months after her diagnosis. “Although the initial diagnosis was grim, the expert cancer care I received help me beat the odds,” says Nancy. “I am now working on re-gaining my strength through exercise classes and working in my garden, and I feel stronger every day.”

Anyone in cancer treatment may register for the Look Good… Feel Better program, regardless of their provider. If you or someone you know is interested, call to register with the Cancer Resource Center at Winneshiek Medical Center at 563-387-5271. Nancy says, “If anyone has cancer, this program is here to help you deal with the stresses you face.” She encourages, “Go for it!”

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