Sherri Clanton knew the chemotherapy would change her looks.
Sitting at a table in University Hospital's Breast Health Center's Look Good ... Feel Better class Sept. 9, she wasn't sure how. She was scheduled to begin her first treatment the next day.
"I don't want my skin to look dead," she said.
Clanton, 45, was one of five women who attended the class, some with friends or family, to learn how to preserve her appearance while her body and the strong medicine fought to preserve her life.
"It's to help them to some extent to put back on the face that they're used to," said Lisa Whittle, a cosmetologist and manager of Second To Nature Boutique, which is located inside University Hospital's Breast Health Center.
Clanton had been diagnosed with cancer a month prior.
She was worried, but her mood during the class, like the other women's, was light and jovial.
She and her friend Gitti Gay laughed as Clanton tried to get the hang of the eye shadow technique Whittle demonstrated.
The tips and stories that were exchanged ranged from how to apply lip liner to how to deal with hair loss.
When Clanton expressed concern about her hair falling out, Joanne Waldrop reassured her, "It's not bad."
Waldrop, 62, was diagnosed June 29 and lost her hair 13 days after her first treatment.
Other women, in various stages of breast cancer treatment, began sharing their own hair loss stories.
For most of them, it took about two weeks after the first treatment for them to lose all of their hair. Waldrop said she had her head shaved and bought a wig.
"Take somebody with you and video it," Waldrop told Clanton.
To cover their baldness if they chose not to wear a wig, Whittle showed them how to make a turban from a T-shirt and showed them a few wigs for sale in the store.
She spent most of the two-hour class focusing on makeup techniques.
She showed them how to draw natural-looking eyebrows once their real ones fall out.
"Eyebrows are so important. It frames your eyes," Whittle told them, as she made three dots above each of Clarissa Coleman's eyes and connected them to create the arch, which she filled in with the pencil.
She suggested using a toothbrush to give the feathery appearance of hair.
She also stressed the importance of keeping their makeup sanitary by using clean brushes and cotton swabs because their immune systems are weakened, and therefore are unable to fight any bacteria that might build up in the products.
"There's not anything real special or different (about the makeup techniques)," Whittle said.
Whittle says she believes that if the women believe they look good, it boosts their self-confidence, and that increases their ability to fight the disease.
Whittle has never had breast cancer, but said she believes helping these women look their best is more rewarding than her previous job in a hair salon.
She holds Look Good ... Feel Better classes about once a month. The rest of her time is spent in the boutique, fitting women for breast prostheses, surgical bras and wigs.
The store is also filled with jewelry, T-shirts, and other items that support breast cancer awareness.
It gives women undergoing treatment their own place to shop among people who understand them, a place where they can feel they belong.
"We try to make it their own special store," Whittle said.