Local make-up artist helps cancer survivors - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Local make-up artist helps cancer survivors

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News release from Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital

Colette Jenkins' weapons against breast cancer, heart disease and Multiple Sclerosis (M.S.) are makeup brushes. No, she can't change the course of these three diseases, but she can help change the attitude of the person facing them.

Jenkins, who was diagnosed in November 1999, at age 29, with M.S. remembers the agonizing episode in her life, when she lost the ability to walk without the assistance of a walker or cane and at times a wheelchair.

She suffered depression and loss of self-esteem. "I felt absolutely empty," she said of the temporary setback with the disease, which attacks the central nervous system. "I felt horrible. I didn't want to be seen because I didn't like what I saw." But she refused to give in. Determined to reclaim her life, she mustered the strength to "put on her face." Her reflection in the mirror resulted in a new outlook.

She no longer saw M.S., but the woman behind the disease. "You want to have dignity," she said. "You want to feel good about yourself and to look good. A good makeover really gives you a new lease on life."            

Drawing from her experiences with M.S., Jenkins is reaching out to other women who have been diagnosed with M.S., and those with breast cancer or heart disease, to help them gain a new look on life - literally. Through her new non-profit organization "Chosen To Conquer," Jenkins is introducing a program to women that teaches them proper makeup techniques, skin and hair care and wardrobe selection.

The program is called "Make Up For Life." Jenkins chose to also help victims of the latter two diseases because she has friends and loved ones who have been impacted by them. Unlike a similar program sponsored by the American Cancer Society, Jenkins' program begins after an individual has been diagnosed and treated for M.S., breast cancer and heart disease.

Since the focus of the annual Women's Health Conference, sponsored by Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital, is breast cancer awareness, Jenkins will be offering free makeovers to women, who are breast cancer survivors.

Women interested in "Make Up For Life" will be pre-screened and selected for a makeover at the conference, which will be held from 8 a.m.-2 p.m. on Oct. 24 at Phoebe HealthWorks. She will also be sharing information about her program, which provides a holistic system that bridges the gap between direct medical treatment and areas of unmet need, Jenkins says.

Jenkins encourages "women to look past the diagnosis and trust and believe that there will be a program waiting for them to help with the devastating effects," she said. "It gives them the opportunity to really grab life again."