What to expect when you’re not expectin…


What to expect when you’re not expecting cancer: Christa and Kate’s story

Dec. 7, 2018 | by Marsha Roc-Malychenkova


In honour of women like Christa and Kate, Mary Kay Cosmetics Ltd. is helping to raise $40,000 in support of Look Good Feel Better by matching all donations from now until December 31st. 


Christa and Kate are both young women, mothers, and in 2016, just 3 months apart, both diagnosed with terminal cancer. Kate was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer and Christa with metastatic cervical cancer.


Kate remembers, “I was 38 at the time, my three kids were under 9 and I was so devastated and angry about the unfairness of it all - not be able to grow old with my husband, to see my kids graduate, get married and meet my grandchildren.”


For Christa, “It was a whirlwind, to say the least.” Pregnant when she was diagnosed, she gave birth to her son prematurely at 33-weeks and became a cancer patient on the same day. “It was the best day of my life and all of the sudden, I had to fight to save my life - it was so bittersweet.”


The two women had never crossed paths before being diagnosed. They met at a cancer retreat and found out that as well as all the similar life experiences they shared, they were also neighbours. Connected by so many things, they formed a strong friendship in which they faced their diagnoses together, as well as the challenges that followed.


“I am so thankful that cancer connected Kate and I, although I would have rather met her at a coffee house or a playgroup with our kids,” says Christa.


The pair decided to attend a Look Good Feel Better workshop in August 2018.


With the many changes that come with a diagnosis, Kate and Christa believe a sense of normalcy is so valuable. “We wanted to be normal moms - the normal Christa, the normal Kate, the wife, the friend. We wanted to go out with our girlfriends and look like our girlfriends.”


After experiencing the workshop, Kate truly believes that putting on a little makeup, feeling good and just taking time for yourself is important. “This special moment really uplifts you and it can change the perspective of your day. Now on a cold day, I will put on some moisturizer and lip balm to nurture my skin, like I learned during the workshop, and I already feel more comfortable in my own skin.”


Both women were grateful for the valuable tips they learned in the workshop. “Nobody tells you about cosmetic hygiene or how to draw on your eyebrows. When you’re in treatment the LGFB workshop gives you the information you need to know without having to look for it. It is so helpful,” Kate explains.


As terminal cancer patients, Christa and Kate will always be in treatment. There will be breaks and better times, but treatment will be an ongoing cycle. Currently back in chemotherapy, Kate explains that she relies on the workshop tips every time she returns to treatment. She says, “What you are offered at Look Good Feel Better is more than just makeup, it’s not just the products. The workshop gives a woman a bag of tools to bring home that will help her feel more like herself again every time she needs to. It’s empowering.” 


“At our workshop we wanted to wear this bold lipstick, and it was nice to be reminded that we can still make bold choices - that we can look good even though we are sick. It was so comforting to see a little bit of ourselves again.”


This holiday season, you can help women like Christa and Kate by making a donation to Look Good Feel Better. Until Dec. 31, all donations (up to $20,000) will be matched by Mary Kay Canada. 


Impassioned to support each other and every woman affected by cancer, Christa and Kate have launched a YouTube channel called ‘What to expect when you’re not expecting cancer’ in which they discuss what it's like to be young and have cancer. You can follow them here.