This May, a year after she first heard the words ‘breast cancer’ from her doctor and underwent a lumpectomy, Laura was devastated to learn that she had been re-diagnosed – stage 4 triple negative.
Her best friend Jess had gone with her to the appointment, which had been Laura’s one-year screening.
“We left that appointment and – it was obviously a very hard, upsetting day – we decided to go out to dinner after to process the information and celebrate life anyways,” Laura remembers. “I’m a very solution-oriented person; I believe life is full of ebbs and flows. I just get the information I need for the next step to move forward. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy, but it was going to be worth it. And when I wasn’t feeling that strong, Jess was there for me.”
Laura’s treatment included aggressive chemotherapy, which began immediately. After the initial meeting where they learned of Laura’s re-diagnosis, Jess never missed an appointment with her friend.
“It was difficult to see what she was going through, but I just couldn’t imagine not being there,” explains Jess.
Through the months of chemotherapy and thirty rounds of radiation, Laura insists that Jess was her strength.
“I can never repay her for her love and support, and for her being there for me through all that she was. The bond we share is genuine and unconditional and I never thought I would have a friend like her in life. She’s not even a person, she's an angel.”
Both friends agree that the experience has brought them even closer together. While Laura is grateful for Jess’s unwavering support through every appointment, encouraging text and celebratory selfie, Jess says the experience has shown her just how lucky she is to have a friend like Laura.
“She is the most brave, upbeat person. With 15 years of friendship under our belt, I already knew that about her, but this experience has truly shown me what a beautiful friend I have,” says Jess. “There were times where I felt like I wanted to fall apart, but there she was, just smiling away and asking people about their days. Everyone at the hospital knew who Laura was because Laura cares to know everyone.”
Although Laura’s positivity appears so natural and unfaltering, she says that’s not the case. She admits that she makes a conscious effort to stay optimistic.
“I believe that when our mental state is negative, it can have a negative impact on our overall health. I’m not saying that it’s possible to remain positive all the time, but it’s something I try to be aware of. Having a friend that sees you that way and mirrors your positivity can be so helpful. When I would go for my infusions – sometimes those were 8-hour days – if you’re not careful, your mind can really wander into the darkness. But Jess and I would sit there and we would make friends with the other patients and joke with the nurses, we would talk about our past and our future – our hopes and dreams. It gave me the right mental state to know that I was still going to be here for all of it.”
Laura shares that another aspect playing a significant role in maintaining a positive outlook is the way you view yourself.
“Before I lost my hair and started to see some of the physical side effects of chemo, I didn’t know how to draw on my eyebrows or what tools I could use to manage my changing appearance and bridge that gap between the inside and the outside. It may sound like vanity to some, but as much as it’s true that the inside matters, the outside can affect that. Because if you don’t feel good on the outside, it’s harder to feel good on the inside.”
Laura is grateful to know that Look Good Feel Better is a resource that women can access to help them maintain this positive outlook. Even more critically, she believes it’s an opportunity for women to find connection if they don’t already have a circle of support.
“If a woman feels like she is going through this alone, the workshop is a place where she could meet her Jess! That makes me incredibly happy. It breaks my heart to think any woman is out there thinking she is facing this alone. There are so many services and communities out there, like Look Good Feel Better. Please know you are never alone.”
This holiday season, you can do something beautiful for women facing cancer and let them know they’re not alone 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 and bringing the power of LGFB to even more women.
Double your impact: lgfb.ca/donate