Leisse Wilcox is a writer, mindset coach, mother of three and a cancer survivor. She lives by the motto, “Take whatever it is that happened to shape you throughout your life, and make it your own. Make it make sense. Make it serve a purpose. Make it absolutely beautiful.”
Although a self-proclaimed ‘relentless optimist’ and advocate for self-love, Leisse confesses that being diagnosed with breast cancer last August, just a week before her 37th birthday, was an unexpected and trying test of these beliefs.
“I had two dramatically body changing surgeries within a nine-month window, and also had the experience of losing my hair during the four months of chemo I had during that same time. It was intense. And for a while, I was really scared. What would I look like? How would I feel? Would I lose my sense of self? My femininity?”
She decided to have a head-shaving party a few weeks before her treatment started with some of her closest girlfriends. She wanted to claim it as her own so she could always remember it as a positive and empowering experience.
Together with her friends, they took their time with the shave – trying different lengths and styles, documenting each with playful photography and finally ending with a striking buzz cut.
It was an experience that tested her vulnerability, but overall reaffirmed the values that she had framed her life around.
“True beauty comes from within,” she says with confidence. “I used to think it was so trite, and frankly a little obnoxious when people said that. Until I found out how true it is. Our beauty does not come from the contour of our cheeks, the length of our lashes, the size of our waist or breasts - it comes from a deep and centred place of magnetic confidence and peace that will shine bold and bright - as soon as you dare to let it.”
With her belief that true beauty ultimately shines from within, Leisse understands more than ever the power of feeling like yourself.
“I remember when I first heard about LGFB –– I remember significantly thinking ‘woah, these guys really get it’. I had never put words to looking good and feeling better before. It made quite an impression on me.”
“Very early on, I adopted all the practices Look Good Feel Better celebrates – I learned to draw on my eyebrows, fake a lash line and use makeup to look and feel like myself. Although I wasn’t able to attend the actual workshop myself, I had friends who attended and had amazing experiences. LGFB and its core values had a massive impact on my life and how I felt through treatment and beyond.”
Leisse encourages all women facing cancer to invest in self-care as much as self-love, and to know that Look Good Feel Better is a place to do that.
She continues to share her experience to let other women know that they are not alone.
“Sharing my story is incredibly important to me. It sounds really painful on the outside, but I’ve taken so much good out of it. I’ve found a way to repurpose the sh*t that life has thrown in my direction and say ‘look, I’m still okay’. Sharing that with other women really feels like a gift.”
Leisse hopes that by sharing her story, she will inspire the same positivity and self-confidence in other women that has gotten her through the experience of cancer and continues to enrich every aspect of her life today.
“I am a relentless optimist, which means I vehemently believe that things work out, that there’s always enough for everyone, that there is a silver lining – even if we can’t see it – and that whatever it is we are experiencing has the capacity to push us forward in ways we never thought possible.
Having a positive outlook is essential to living a life that makes you feel full, satisfied, appreciative, loved, and connected. It’s through positive thinking that we pause and give thanks for the simple pleasures of daily life and have the wherewithal to know – even in our darkest times – that this too shall pass. A positive mindset is essentially having a hopeful mindset, and the tenacity to know that you have done hard things before, and you can do this too.”
You can support Look Good Feel Better and women like Leisse at the Shoppers Drug Mart summer Beauty Mingle. On August 10th, stores across the country will be hosting their Beauty Mingle events in support of the charity. $5 of every $10 ticket sold will go towards Look Good Feel Better, helping women with cancer feel like themselves again. Grab your sister, mother or girlfriends for some feel good fun and help empower women in your community!