Eleanor was diagnosed with breast cancer nearly 30 years ago.
When asked what she believes got her through some of the more difficult moments, she credits the community support she received as well as her active lifestyle.
“Being active has been the most beneficial thing for me, both in my physical and mental recovery after breast cancer. If I could share one piece of advice with women facing life after cancer, it would be to find something within your physical ability that you love to do, and make that a part of your social life and self-care.”
For Eleanor, that something was dragon boat racing. She started the first ‘Dragons Abreast’ team for breast cancer survivors in Toronto in 1997. When Eleanor began her treatment for breast cancer in 1989, there weren’t many widely-known bras and prosthesis options for women who had undergone double mastectomies.
Eleanor remembers, “All you were given was a little beanbag to put in a brassiere – but let me tell you, things have changed!”
Look Good Feel Better now offers information on breast care in many of the workshops offered across Canada. When LGFB surveyed women with breast cancer, like Eleanor, it was found that more than 60 percent weren't aware of the best options and fittings for post-surgery, treatment, and recovery. The new Breast Care program aims to change that.
After those initial experiences, Eleanor has been able to explore what is now available to women – including sports bras and swimsuits. “Once I had gotten past the first year or two, I began to feel like it was possible to feel complete again. It’s such an individual experience, but anything that helps you feel ‘normal’ is so valuable. Every woman should have the opportunity to feel like herself.”
Today, Eleanor still enjoys summers on the lake with her Dragons Abreast teammates.
One of Eleanor’s teammates is Yasmin, who was diagnosed with breast cancer more than 15 years ago. Her treatment included both a lumpectomy and mastectomy and she chose not to undergo reconstruction.
Although confident in her decision to forego reconstruction, she felt at a loss with the information she was given about post-surgical prosthesis and bra options. After an uncomfortable and impersonal prosthesis fitting, Yasmin “struggled to feel normal.” She then attended a Look Good Feel Better workshop which she says was, “very comforting and uplifting,” and helped her get back her confidence.
Today, Yasmin does not hesitate to strut a pool deck without her prosthesis. She has strong self-confidence and feels wonderful about herself and her body. She says a big part of getting to this point has been the support she received early on. “I am not the same young woman I was when I was first diagnosed – I am 100% confident in who I am. But back then, I needed the help.”
This holiday season, you can help women facing cancer, like Yasmin and Eleanor, by making a gift to Look Good Feel Better. Until December 31st, Mary Kay Cosmetics Ltd. will match all donations – doubling the impact of your gift – so that even more women will be empowered through the knowledge and support offered at an LGFB workshop.
Double your impact: lgfb.ca/donate