At 25 years old, I was shocked, confused, and unaware of what was to come next when the doctor told me that the cyst I found was not benign. In fact, it was invasive. Halfway through the start of the pandemic, months before I was set to start my dream clinical psychology program, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. It was hard to wrap my mind around.
Cancer is not common for women my age, and I did not have any friends who had experienced it, so I was not sure what to expect. One thing that I knew would be critical for something life changing like cancer, would be to have a strong support system. Once I came to terms with this new—and hopefully temporary—change in plans, I thought, “ok this is bad but not terrible.”
But just nine days following my first round of chemotherapy, my hair started to fall out. I knew it would happen eventually, I just never thought it would happen so quickly. No one can truly prepare for running a brush through your hair and seeing the bristles full of your hair. Rather than continue to torture myself by watching my hair fall out, I decided to take some control and shave my head. I tried different funky looks, gave myself bangs and even shaved just half my head before taking the full plunge. While there is nothing fun about cancer, having a fun night with your support system is incredibly cathartic and a great reminder that you are not in this alone.
While my family and friends are my greatest support system, I knew from my years of studying psychology that it would be incredibly important for my mental health and well being to be supported in multiple ways. That is when I found out about Look Good Feel Better’s online workshop. I thought at the very least I would sign up and see what it was about. When you are a dealing with something like cancer, you really don’t know what you don’t know until you experience it. If I wanted to make this journey easier for myself as much as possible, then attending a Look Good Feel Better workshop would be a key part.
To my delight I learned so much! Beyond the cosmetic tips, which are still very helpful even if you are like me and do not wear makeup everyday, I learned about the proper way to take care of my changing skin, how to build a skincare regiment to meet my needs, and even maintain safe hygiene practices to keep me safe. I really did not know a lot about the very critical information the amazing volunteers provided. Beyond the information, it was great being in a group setting and seeing other women, both around my age and older, experiencing the same thing as me. I cannot emphasize enough how important it is for women with cancer to feel like they are not in it alone.
For a lot of women, the changes in your skin and hair can strip you of your feminine identity. Doing your makeup and hair can be engrained in your day-to-day activity, so what happens when the fundamental aspects of your identity change so drastically? This is why Look Good Feel Better is so important! It’s important for women, like me, to have these resources available during such a difficult time. You don’t want to be the ‘woman with cancer’ when you’re at the mall, you just want to be you. Look Good Feel Better helps you get there.
One gift, double the impact. From today until April 30th, you have the special opportunity to support women facing cancer, like Louise. Our friends at Cosmetics Alliance Canada. will match your gift, meaning it will go twice as far. *
*Until April 3oth, Cosmetics Alliance Canada will match individual donations, up to $25,000.