In 1990, Tami Floyd Fogleman was pregnant with her son when she began volunteering with a relatively new outreach program in Myrtle Beach called Look Good Feel Better, a program for women undergoing cancer treatment.
Twenty-five years later, her son works in television production in New York and she is still volunteering with the program as a coordinator and trainer.
Her actions prove what she says of the program: “I fell in love with it.”
A recent national award recognizing her dedication shows that the love flows both ways.
Fogleman was selected as one of three cosmetology professionals in the nation to receive the 2014-2015 National Sunrise Award presented by the Professional Beauty Association for her committed volunteer service to Look Good Feel Better and the women it serves. The other recipients are from Texas and Nebraska.
Though Tami’s talent lies in cosmetology, her gift is compassionately helping those going through their ultimate battle – cancer treatment.
Fronde Merchant, American Cancer Society Mission Delivery Specialist in South Carolina
The Professional Beauty Association is one of three partners of the program, along with the American Cancer Society and the Personal Care Products Foundation. These groups work together with licensed cosmetologists and estheticians to provide makeovers for women losing their hair — and their self-esteem — due to chemotherapy treatments.
The Personal Care Products Council, a membership organization made up of the nation’s cosmetic industry leaders, initiated the idea for the program in 1989. The council committed funding and cosmetics to the program through its charitable foundation and business membership and sought collaboration with its current partners.
Look Good Feel Better programs are now held in every state, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico using products donated by the Personal Care Products Council member companies.
American Cancer Society Mission Delivery Specialist in South Carolina Fronde Merchant has worked closely with Fogleman since the fall of 2013.
“Though Tami’s talent lies in cosmetology, her gift is compassionately helping those going through their ultimate battle – cancer treatment,” said Merchant.
Merchant called Fogleman an outstanding volunteer. “She’s just so passionate about the program and really invested in the benefits this program offers patients. She’s also passionate about the education component and goes out of her way to promote it in the community.”
The owner of Tami and Company Salon in Myrtle Beach, Fogleman uses her day off on Mondays to schedule workshops for cancer patients at participating oncology offices, Carolina Regional Cancer Center and Coastal Cancer Center. Some workshops can have up to 20 women who are dealing with the effects of cancer. Myrtle Beach, she said, has some of the highest particpation numbers in the state.
At the workshops, each patient gets a free bag of cosmetics valued at $300 and other goodies. Because cancer patients have a lowered immune system, Fogleman shares important sanitation and sterilization tips with them.
“Old makeup could be contaminated,” she said. “We go through the 12 steps of the makeup, focus on hair loss, and loss of eyebrows and eyelashes. That is a big thing when you are going through chemo. So we teach them how to apply their eyeliner and eyebrows to look natural.”
$7,000-$8,000 the annual cost of wigs provided free of charge to cancer patients at Tami and Company Salon
Additionally, she coordinates with the American Cancer Society staff partner in South Carolina to lead two volunteer certification classes annually. The next training is set for September. Only licensed cosmetologists and estheticians qualify to become certified volunteers.
As a trainer, she leads other volunteers through the program guidelines. When they work with the patients, they will know how to make the workshops fun but professional. They will offer tips on how to tie scarves and head coverings, what styles to select, or how to wear clothing as the body changes due to treatments and the disease causing weight gain or loss — all side effects of cancer treatment.
Beyond that, Fogleman helps schedule fundraisers to provide money for quality wigs offered free to cancer patients. Her dedication does not stop there; she is always available in her shop to shave heads and then cut and style the wigs after they have been selected.
“Most of the women who come to me are devastated when their hair comes out,” she said.
To help cover the expense of the new wigs, which runs between $7,000 and $8,000 a year, she gets support from several area fundraisers that include an annual event hosted by Rod Weatherwax, owner of Flip Flops Bar & Grill in Myrtle Beach. The event is held in memory of Weatherwax’s sister, Rene, who had breast cancer and died in 2005 at the age of 41.
Mary Grace Puckett, a licensed cosmetologist and former instructor for Look Good Feel Better for many years, stays involved with the program by heading up the fundraiser for Weatherwax. Since October of 2012, the event has raised about $2,000 a year for the Wig Bank that is housed at the local American Cancer Society office.
“I have worked in that wig room and seen the women come in and it really means a lot to them. It’s an awful thing to shave a woman’s head because her hair is falling out,” Puckett said. Getting a nice wig, however, “is an uplifting experience” that “gets to your heart.”
Fogleman genuinely sees the benefit of Look Good Feel Better to cancer patients. As a teen, she watched her grandmother suffer from bladder cancer.
It seems like it is her whole life. She does everything she can to help people. It’s something she feels called to do.
Joni Buckley, breast cancer survivor
“I just remember her being so sick and she had such an awful wig. I told my mom, ‘I wish we could have had this program to help her.’”
Breast cancer survivor Joni Buckley of Myrtle Beach has benefitted from Fogleman’s positive energy and the Look Good Feel Better program. She admires Fogleman’s dedication.
“It seems like it is her whole life. She does everything she can to help people. It’s something she feels called to do,” Buckley said.
While Fogleman has help from a few trained cosmetologists in the area, she still sees a great need to expand the program into other areas including Brunswick County, N.C. She said doctors and medical facilities have really begun to appreciate the value of the Look Good Feel Better program and the nursing staff is proactive about promoting the program to new patients.
To train new volunteers, Fogleman will hold a session Sept. 21 at the office of the American Cancer Society at 48th Avenue and Grissom Parkway. Hours are 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. with lunch included. Qualified individuals can sign up by calling the American Cancer Society at 213-0003.
“We’ve got a ton of hairdressers in this town,” Fogleman said. “If they would each just do one session every three months that would help me a bunch.”
Fogleman said it is the hugs, smiles, tears and even the appreciative husbands that motivate her to continue with the program. Fogleman said one husband called after his wife passed away recently just to thank her.
“He said, ‘Thank you, you made her days special,’” she said.
About the women she works with through Look Good Feel Better, Fogleman said, “I buzz their hair and they are crying. It’s very emotional. But in the end, you’ve made them look normal again and it’s just the right thing to do. It’s just a very touching program.”
Angela Nicholas is a freelance writer and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you go
What | Look Good Feel Better wig fundraiser
When | 1-4 p.m. Oct. 24
Where | Flip Flops Bar & Grill, 9619 Shore Drive, Myrtle Beach
Contact | 712-2834
What | Certification for Look Good Feel Better program
When | 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sept. 21
Where | American Cancer Society, 950 48th Ave. N., 101, Myrtle Beach
To register | Call American Cancer Society, 213-0003