Emmy award-winning makeup artist who re-engineered definition of beauty after breast cancer headlines new Trinity “wecancervive” event

Staff Writer
Aledo Times Record

Emmy award-winning celebrity makeup artist and breast cancer survivor Jan Ping will headline “Beauty & the Breast,” the Trinity Cancer Center’s inaugural “wecancervive” event series from 3:30-8:30 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 12, at the Quad-Cities Waterfront Convention Center in Bettendorf.  Ping’s own battle with the disease made her realize the impact cancer treatment has on a woman’s self-image, and now she travels the country sharing her experiences that led her to recognize what beauty truly means.

“Cancer is not an automatic death sentence,” said Andrea Schelin, MSN, Trinity’s Director of Oncology Services.  “We chose the name ‘wecancervive’ as a symbol that a survivor’s spirit is one of the most important components in battling this disease.  By drawing people together for an evening of inspiration and hope, we want to focus on the power of that attitude.”

During her more than 20 years in show business, keynote speaker Jan Ping has worked on some of the most famous faces in the world, including Tyra Banks, Sean Connery, Cindy Crawford, Warren Beatty, Kevin Costner, Goldie Hawn and Cheryl Tiegs, among others.

A former actress and print model herself, Ping decided a life behind the camera was her calling.  After graduating from cosmetology school in the early 1980s, Ping did make-up for Howard Stern regularly when he was taping his radio show in L.A. From there, she went on to work steadily on dozens of TV talk shows, dramas, and movies (“The Tonight Show,” “The Bold and the Beautiful,” “The Sharon Osbourne Show,” “Dr. Phil,” and “The Doctors,” to name a few).

She married, had a daughter, Alice, now 16. She didn't smoke, drink or eat in an unhealthy way. There was no cancer in her family.

In 2005, when she was a 45-year-old single mom, a routine mammogram picked up a suspicious shadow. A biopsy and cancer diagnosis followed.  Ping, who underwent two lumpectomies, followed by chemotherapy and radiation as part of her treatment, says it took breast cancer to deeply understand the meaning of beauty.

“The emphasis on what we physically look like is so huge," she reflects. "Beauty is what I did for a living. I had defined myself by what I do, and what I look like. Having that all stripped away was a very empowering experience.”

While she still works in the industry, her newfound perspective led her to expand her business to include non-entertainment industry clients, and many hours of volunteer hair and makeup consultations for cancer patients. She has also started speaking at conferences regarding self-image and how cancer treatment can affect that.

“You realize at the end of it that it's not your lashes, not your hair, not your makeup, not your breasts that make you beautiful - it's who you are inside. It's a wonderful place to get to. It's a blessing.”

In addition to Ping’s keynote address, attendees may choose to attend two of three breakout sessions from 3:30-5:15 p.m.:

Session 1: Genetics Counseling/Risk Assessment  

 This session will provide a basic overview of genetics, review the most commonly known hereditary breast cancer genes and features that indicate an increased likelihood of having a cancer gene, describe the different categories/type of cancer risk (average-sporadic vs. moderate-familial vs. high-cancer gene), and explain the basic elements of cancer risk assessment and genetic counseling.

Presented by Heather McCullough, Family Nurse Practitioner, Hematology and Oncology Care - Illinois, Moline

Session 2: Sexuality and Body Image

Many women with breast cancer find themselves dealing with the fact that treatment changed the way they look. The goal of this session is to learn how to be comfortable with one's body and understand the changes that have occurred after treatment. We will explore how the picture of our body we hold in our mind affects our sexuality and intimate relationships.

 Presented by Sarah Slavik, Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor, Robert Young Center for Community Mental Health

Session 3: Look Good ... Feel Better

 Women often lose confidence in their own beauty during cancer treatment, but the Look Good ... Feel Better program helps women face this challenge of a lifetime head-on.  Look Good ... Feel Better is a free program offered by the American Cancer Society to help women deal with possible side effects that their skin may endure during treatment such as redness, irritation and loss of eyebrows. This session is intended for those who are newly diagnosed with cancer, currently in treatment or one year post-treatment. Participants will learn about the program, which includes education on nail, hair and wig care. They will also have an opportunity to sign up for the Trinity Cancer Center's seminar in November.

Presented by Courtney Heiser, Senior Patient Services Representative, American Cancer Society

Breast cancer survivors are invited to attend a special reception at 5:30 p.m. as a celebration of their survival.  Survivors will enjoy musical entertainment by the Whoozdads?, featuring local musicians Ellis Kell, Tony Hoeppner, Terry Hanson and Mike Frank, door prizes, a chance to meet keynote speaker Jan Ping, and be part of a survivor group photo. 

Doors for the keynote and hors d’oeuvres will open at 6:30 p.m. with speakers taking the stage at 7:15 p.m.  Dessert also will be served.

Support for the “wecancervive” series is made possible through the Trinity Health Foundation and Mediacom. Cost for the event is $15.  To register online or for more information, go to www.trinityqc.com/cancer.