For the average woman, feeling beautiful is not always easy, but throw in everything that comes with cancer and sometimes it may feel near impossible. Here are a few things that reminded me I was beautiful through treatment and that I deserve to feel that way too.
If infection prevents from going to a salon, don’t let it stop you from painting your own nails… or guilting your loved ones into painting them for you! Choose a colour that reflects your mood or one that may brighten your day. Use a cuticle oil if treatment has made your nails dry or weak.
Change up your style!
Fashion can be an amazing tool in bringing out your confidence and highlight or hide the parts of your body you do and don’t want people to notice. The new scars, lack of hair, PICC lines and ports are not always super easy to wear boldly, so fashion is an amazing way to gain confidence and have some control over how you look. When you’re sick, you spend lots of time in pyjama’s so make the days you can dress up and feel beautiful count.
Surround yourself with other cancer fighters and survivors.
It can be hard feeling beautiful when the media never portrays patients that look like you or anyone with blemishes or scars of any kind. When I went through treatment, I became so insecure of a scar on my chest and one day at a Pink Hope x Cancer Chicks event I noticed the majority of women all had their own port and PICC line scars in the same place. I suddenly felt part of something bigger, like my scar had become a symbol of community and the strength emblematic of the women I so looked up to myself. Sometimes you need to see the beauty in others going through a similar situation to feel beautiful yourself.
Just because you can’t enjoy the summer sun doesn’t mean you can’t have a beachy glow. Tans in a bottle often help hide the greenish colour your skin turns after chemo. If you do decide to get a spray tan done at a salon, be sure to ask them to spray your bald head for the full look. It's also important to moisturise as the treatment may make your skin extra dry making your tan fade faster. If you are suffering from dry skin, try a gentle shower soap rather than a harsh scented soap.
Look good feel better
Look good feel better is an amazing initiative that teaches women how to style wigs, headscarves and do their makeup. It was also a great way to meet like-minded people going through a similar experience. An extra bonus: free goodies! Take advantage of these perks as there are very few exciting moments during a cancer diagnosis.
A bubble bath
Never underestimate the power of a scented candle and a good ol’ fashion bubble bath. Just remember, if you are going through chemotherapy your blood pressure may have dropped so make sure the water is not too hot and that you take it slowly getting out of the bath as the change in temperature may cause dizziness or faintness.
Some days you may find it hard to recognise yourself without you hair. Drawing on a pair of eyebrows, gluing on lashes or even adding a little blush can sometimes make you feel a little more like your old self. If you get the chance to before losing your brows, create a stencil of the shape to make it easier to draw/powder in later.
Wigs and headscarves
So many women’s identities are linked to their hair and when that is taken away from them, it can be the hardest thing someone will go through. Nothing will ever replace your old hair, but you may find new confidence in wearing a colourful wig, a hat with hair, or a headscarf. Sometimes choosing a wig that matched your old hair may bring you comfort or confidence when you lose the hair you had. If you cannot afford a real hair wig, ask your hospital or social worker to direct you to a wig library where you might be granted a rental wig.
Here are some amazing Women-led Australian head scarves and wig companies to check out @braveryco @thisisforandy @someonesunday and @hatswithhair
This article was written by Rikki Stern for Pink Hope's From One Patient to Another Series.
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