Mary Kay Canada will match every donation made to Look Good Feel Better (up to $10,000) until Dec. 31. Please donate today to double your impact and help women like Lan and Yvette feel like themselves again.
Best friends since grade two, Lan Lee and Yvette Demeter have been through many life milestones together.
They’ve seen each other through career successes, weddings, motherhood – and now breast cancer, receiving their diagnoses just four days apart last year.
“At first, we were very angry about it, because the likelihood of getting breast cancer in your forties is much lower – and yet we were both diagnosed,” said Yvette, a mother of two living in Toronto. “The initial reaction was, ‘I can handle my cancer, but I can’t handle both of us having cancer.’”
“It was very overwhelming.”
As they began surgery, chemotherapy and radiation, the anger subsided and it began to feel like a blessing.
“All of a sudden it felt like it was meant to be,” said Yvette. “I hate to say this, but I feel bad for anyone who’s not going through cancer with their best friend – you almost need that to get through this.”
“It’s a support on such a deep level.”
They were each other’s shoulder to cry on, someone to compare symptoms and side effects with and, of course, “someone just to gripe about it” with.
“No matter how supportive your family is – it’s just not the same as having somebody who’s going through it – there’s no pressure,” said Lan, a mother of three living in Markham. “We had this realization that we can be weak with each other – we can cry, we can just be ourselves.”
“If I didn’t have Lan, I really would have been in a worse situation,” Yvette added.
The pair scheduled their radiation together, so they could go for walks and attended support programs together, including a Look Good Feel Better workshop at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre.
“Programs such as Look Good Feel Better are important, because it allows you to connect,” Yvette said. “Everyone should have what Lan and I have – if you don’t have a best friend, you need to reach out to somebody, there’s no doubt about it.”
“This is a place to do that.”
They also appreciated learning about skin care and managing the appearance-related side effects.
"I just wanted my husband to still find me attractive,” said Yvette. “With all of these changes, you feel somebody is going to look at you differently."
For Lan, it was difficult to lose her hair, eyebrows and lashes.
“You remember yourself being vibrant and then you see yourself in the mirror – it’s a very faded image of who you were,” she said. “You feel naked to some degree … now, when I want to bring the same image back I just put makeup on – for me, it’s knowing this is who I am, that person is still there.”
Lan and Yvette have completed most of their treatments and now they’re grateful to have each other as they navigate life after cancer.
“There’s a great deal of pressure – it’s kind of expected that you’re done, you’re healthy,” said Yvette.
They struggle with fatigue, memory and finding a new normal and role within their families.
“I can’t do the things I used to – I need some adjustment,” said Lan.
“I really hate that you’re going through this, but I’m so glad you’re with me,” Yvette said to Lan.
This holiday season you can help women like Lan and Yvette by making a donation to Look Good Feel Better. Until Dec. 31, all donations (up to $10,000) will be matched by Mary Kay Canada.