How I went from being a teenager facing…


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How I went from being a teenager facing cancer alone to finding my community...online!

Nov. 30, 2020 | by Sarah Issa

Eighteen is not what I had imagined it to be. While my plans were to start university in the Fall of 2020, cancer had a different plan for me. For a few months, I felt a bump growing above my knee. Doctors tried to put me at ease, telling me that it was nothing to worry about. But once COVID came around, I knew that it was no benign bump and no time to not take my health seriously.

After several ultrasounds and scans, I was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma in my left femur and began six rounds of chemotherapy. My care team did a great job of guiding me through the treatment plan, explaining what would come next and what to expect.  But I felt otherwise alone facing cancer at my young age. I knew no one going through what I was going through. Everyone I knew my age was starting classes in the fall; I was trying to deal with sallow under eyes and the pale face from treatment. Cancer was treating my body and mind as a physical and emotional battle ground.

Although I often had days where I felt ‘fine’, my thinning hair, sparse lashes and eyebrows told a different story. As quickly as the feeling came, one look in the mirror and I no longer saw myself. That was until my Social Worker recommended attending a Look Good Feel Better ® workshop. They explained to me that there were workshops specifically for teens like me with similar experiences, and I could learn how to handle the physical changes that were happening to me.

Little did I know what was to come from the workshops. I not only learned what types of products to use for my needs, how to deal with my sallow skin, sparse eyebrows, lashes, and do fun makeup looks, but I also found myself reflected back in the group. While I admit I am a bit too shy to strike up conversations with the other teens right now, it means so much to me to see other girls my age going through what I am going through. It sometimes feels like you are getting ready with your girlfriends to go out; we will be giving each other tips, tricks, and compliments about our looks while the amazing volunteers encourage us to get creative. In between feeling queasy and drained from chemotherapy, where I routinely go alone due to COVID guidelines, the workshops are a refuge.

When I feel discouraged about what I am going through and how I look, I try to get creative with my makeup with tips I learned from the LGFB workshops and I don’t feel so bad anymore. When you are a new cancer patient, changes to your appearance can be the toughest aspect to handle. When I started gaining control over my appearance, I started gaining back control over my mental health too. Before I had no clue where to start with feeling better. Now I will get a fun colourful wig or scarf and try to match my eyebrows and lipstick to it!

To any teens newly diagnosed who are reading this: reach out and sign up for a workshop. I know you probably do not think others can feel what you are feeling but trust me when I tell you there is an amazing community waiting for you here. You do not deserve to go through cancer alone.

One gift, double the impact. From today until December 31st, you have the special opportunity to support teens facing cancer, like Sarah.  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.