Going through cancer treatments can alter your appearance temporarily or even permanently sometimes, depending on the treatment. Yes there is the physical changes such as the loss of one or both breasts, but there can also be scars, changes in skin texture, swelling, hair loss and weight gain. There are also unseen side effects like joint pain, shortness of breath, fatigue, mouth sores and nausea to deal with.
All of these have an impact on your self esteem. Its very hard to feel beautiful when you have no hair, no eyebrows, and no eyelashes. It is tough to find things to wear that look good when the steroids you are on have made you swell and gain weight. Getting ready to go out takes an hour longer by the time you find something to wear, and put on your makeup.
Here are some things I did that you may find helpful.
- The American Cancer Society runs a program called Looking Good, Feeling Better. I am torn on whether or not to recommend this program. I went to one shortly after my mastectomy and first chemo treatment. I had cut my hair very short because it was starting to fall out and I wanted to be in control of that one thing. I was given a bag full of makeup in my skin tone and most was very expensive as well as a good color. For the makeup alone it is worth going. They give you tips, and everyone puts on their makeup while getting help if needed. The problem with this was the talking between the women while they were putting on makeup. They were all talking about what stage their cancer was and what chemotherapies they were on. There was a lot of opinions on what they had heard, what their friends went through, and from what their doctor said. I sat there scared whenever someone mentioned the type of cancer I had and when I heard horrific stories of side effects from the chemo I was on. I was new to the breast cancer scene so I was soaking up everything like a dry sponge. It really frightened me and I came away from it scared and worried, not feeling better at all. So if you want free makeup along with ideas on how to apply it I suggest you go and get your bag and put some earplugs in or listen to music. If hearing about others circumstances doesn’t bother you, then definitely go.
2. Buy a good wig in your hair color and close to the style you had. Hats and scarves are good, but they scream “I am bald”. Some women choose a wig that is nothing like their original style because they think its their chance to see what it would be like if they had a different color or style. This also isn’t the best choice because if you have black hair in a short pixie, and you pick a long, curly, blonde wig, people are going to feel uncomfortable because they won’t know if they should comment on your hair or just pretend it was always like that. Personally I stuck with a wig that was close to my color and style. This allowed me to look like me, and that was what I wanted.
3. Buy a good eyebrow kit and false eyelashes. If you wear no other makeup, do your brows and lashes at the very least. Eyebrows define the shape of our face and draw the focus to our eyes where people look. Without them, all people can see is that you have no eyebrows and they wont be able to concentrate on you. It is sad but true. False lashes take some practice but for a special occasion they are worth it. Do not get individual lashes, these are for pros and are hard to do. Get the strip in the length you had with mascara on. The really long ones will make you look like a Manga character. On days you go lash-less, draw your eyeliner in brown or black really close to your lash line, making small dots where lashes would be. This really gives the impression of lashes and makes your eyes stand out more.
4. Wear lipstick or a tinted gloss. This will add color to your face especially when you are pale or sallow looking.
5. Buy some basic pieces of clothing in a bigger size to accommodate your changing body. This way you can be comfortable and look nice until treatment ends and you go back to your old weight.
6. Quit the manis and pedis. This may be very hard for some women but it is important. Many chemos cause your nails to harden and split while the nail bed dies causing the nails to raise up and sometimes fall off. Nail polish and gel tips are very bad for your nails and the harsh chemicals dry out the nails. Also you risk infection from the tools and tubs which you want to avoid with a lower immune system. Rub olive oil into your nails, toe nails and cuticles twice a day. This will keep them soft and healthy.
7. Be sure to moisturize your skin using either Lubriderm, or Eucerin. These two are the most recommended by doctors. Stay away from highly scented lotions that will dry out your skin even more.
Lastly, wear a smile! Remember that this is only temporary and soon you will be back to normal.