Your appearance can change dramatically while you are going through treatment. It can be a shock when you look in the mirror & see a version of you that you’re not used to – but don’t freak out! It can be a perfect excuse to experiment with all kinds of looks!
The most obvious effect of chemotherapy is the loss of hair – this happens because chemo destroys all fast-growing cells so while it’s killing the tumour, it’s also busy wreaking havoc over cells that make your hair grow, the lining of your mouth (see Eating & food) etc etc. Even if you’ve come to terms with the fact that you will lose your hair, it can be difficult waking up and finding your hair on the pillow! Don’t panic – give your self-esteem a boost (particularly the ladies) by:
- Approaching wig companies who make professional & realistic wigs that suit you – try a new hair colour, a different length, wear a different one every day if you fancy it! I’ve only heard good things about companies who specialise in wigs for chemo patients!
- Buy some pretty scarves to wear around your head – the fabric can sometimes feel softer on your scalp and therefore more comfortable than a wig but it’s entirely down to personal preference!
- Look Good, Feel Better (http://www.lookgoodfeelbetter.co.uk/) is a great charity that provides make-up and skincare workshops & masterclasses for women all over the UK – go & check them out!
- Many make-up counters, in department stores or in shops like Boots, will give you a free makeover to try out different make-up – there’s no obligation to buy the products but if you fall in love with something – treat yourself!
- Look out for false eyelashes that you can wear in place of your real ones if you do lose them to chemo – I managed to keep mine for quite a while!
- Get your nails done! They may become quite fragile so look after them!
For everyday confidence:
- Get up & get dressed if you’re feeling up to it – it’ll make you feel tons better!
- Use a moisturiser that will nourish your skin – it can dry out a lot if you’re spending long periods in hospital.
- Treat yourself to some new clothes & make up!
- If you’re not feeling particularly attractive, remember that confidence is attractive too – feeling good is half the battle!
- When you don’t even want to look in the mirror, don’t! Have your off days & your duvet days but make sure you pick yourself back up – don’t let yourself slide into a duvet routine! 🙂
In my personal experience:
- I was only 14 when I was diagnosed so I wasn’t too bothered with make-up but I made the most of my blue eyes by wearing blue necklaces, and blue scarves to enhance them.
And yes, scarves! I didn’t wear a wig – mainly because I liked the variety of pretty scarves that were on offer and I loved how soft they felt!
- Before treatment, I had my hair cut short so that I wouldn’t feel the effect so much when it fell out! And my mother shaved it off for me when it began to fall out which led to hysterical laughter and a big feeling of relief!
- My complexion changed – I became even more pale than I usually am! If I had been one for wearing make-up, a bit of blusher wouldn’t have gone amiss!
If you’re left with scars, it can make a big impact on your confidence. Suddenly, your body is left with strange marks all over it & your whole image has changed. They can be unsightly at first & I’d recommend using Bio-Oil if you want them to fade quickly.
To be honest, I’ve always been conscious about the fact that I’m so pale rather than the fact that I have scars & people don’t always notice them anyway. I’ve got one on my neck & one on my chest from the Hickman line & the big one that’s on my leg.
By the time that you come out of treatment, your whole view on the world will probably have changed – you’ll end up thinking who has the perfect body anyway?!
To me, scars are a sign of strength (and actually quite a good talking point!) and quite frankly, without them, I wouldn’t be here.
People occasionally stare if I’m wearing shorts but other than that, I hardly even notice they’re there myself!
Embrace your scars. Learn to love the new you with scars or without them. Your confidence may take a knock but over the course of seven years, I’ve actually grown quite attached to my scars – they show what I’ve been through and how far I’ve come.
Think of it as a tattoo to show that you beat cancer & remember to use a high factor sunscreen on new scars! x
You’re still beautiful!