I have been diagnosed with breast cancer twice in my life. Once 25 years ago and again earlier this year. While I spent many years in-between diagnoses wondering why I was going to yearly mammograms when nothing was ever found, I thank my past self for being stubborn and keeping up the appointments.
While cancer this time around does look slightly different, from a global pandemic that stops me from being around loved ones, to being completely alone during treatment, it hasn’t changed one thing: attending a Look Good Feel Better ® workshop. I attended the workshop again because I had remembered how helpful the workshops were 25 years ago the first time I was diagnosed. And as the world prepared for lockdown, my in-person workshop appointment was quickly moved online.
I will be honest, having faced cancer the first time did not mean it was easier a second time. I still found myself with low energy, even though one could argue I already knew what to expect. At the beginning of COVID, it felt as if I was forgotten. I felt so inundated with messaging around ‘stay home, be safe’ that I cannot imagine what it is like going through a first-time cancer diagnosis this isolated.
Attending a workshop connected me with others going through the same experience. The workshops validated my experience. It was a great reminder that I might be physically alone, but I am not alone in my feelings and experiences. You might not connect with everyone on the call, but you at least know others going through the same thing at the same time. And that is important!
Another reason I joined the LGFB workshops a second time around was to regain some control over my appearance. Though it might seem unnecessary to join after facing cancer 25 years prior, I still needed to relearn the basics. And that includes how to regain a sense of control. Truly nothing can prepare you for cancer, not even an earlier diagnosis.
As women, it can be difficult to allow other people to do things for you. Ordinarily I can do small tasks, like grocery shopping, but COVID makes the most mundane acts impossible. It is as if it amplifies the loss of control, which is challenging because you are already vulnerable. That is huge, because when you are going through treatment, you really depend on the medical team to guide you. So, you don’t have too much control over that, and now you can’t even indulge in choosing what apples you pick up at the grocery store.
When you can join a community, like the online LGFB workshops, and are vulnerable and see others also being vulnerable, you realize you are not alone in this. There are other people going through cancer, having similar feelings and experiences. There are other women dealing with dry skin or loss of eyebrows and there are ways to address those issues. When I went through it the first time, I learned how-to put-on makeup—because I was never a makeup person. Going back a second time reaffirmed feeling good and less alone.
One gift, double the impact. From today until December 31st, you have the special opportunity to support women facing cancer, like Shelley. And our friends at Mary Kay Cosmetics Ltd. will match your gift, meaning it will go twice as far. *
*Until December 31st, Mary Kay Cosmetics will match individual donations, up to $25,000.