The effects of cancer treatment often present physical changes that make the battle obvious. Some common changes in appearance are hair loss, weight loss or weight gain, changes in skin’s appearance and type, and changes in nail health.
My Personal Beauty Battle
Before cancer, I actually didn’t recognize myself as being beautiful. I was always overly critical about myself. A lot of these criticisms stemmed from taunts from my childhood that I’d emotionally fought into my adulthood. I could do my hair perfectly and still find something destructive to say toward myself.
It wasn’t until I was diagnosed with breast cancer that I suddenly valued everything I’d been complaining about, simply because I was about to lose it! One of the most significant experiences that can devastate a survivor’s esteem is the changes to their appearance as a result of surgery and/or treatment.
It wasn’t until I was without hair, lashes, brows and even nails that I realized something major: my good looks or beautification efforts did not spare me from cancer. Dually, my beauty had no bearing on my worthiness to be alive. It was then I realized my spirit’s beauty. That beauty was who, not just what I was. The virtues of my spirit that began to take front and center in my cancer battle encouraged me to see myself in a new magnificent light. Suddenly I didn’t see a victim of cancer distraught at the aesthetics others could no longer compliment me about. I saw beauty in my strength and a whole new outlook on myself. Even today, when negative thinking tries to creep into my thoughts, I remember who I Am makes me what I Am. Beautiful always.
“Cancer may affect your beauty routine or everyday appearance. But it can not, will not, and has not touched your beauty – just illuminated it.”
5 Steps to Beauty While Battling Cancer
Looking for ways to pamper yourself with a beauty routine? Here are my top five suggestions to combat those changes affecting your appearance while bravely battling breast cancer!
- Attend a beauty class! Whether you’re a makeup maven or a novice in the cosmetic world – beauty in the battle can present itself differently from our previous beauty routines. For the makeup amateurs, it can be completely overwhelming! There are programs that support cancer survivors to restore a natural look while facing cancer. Most of these programs offer product recommendations appropriate for those with sensitive skin. There are also tutorials on how to apply the products. Some even have giveaways!In my opinion, Sephora offers the best hands-on beauty experience for the cancer community. Their program, Brave Beauty in the Face of Cancer, is a free 90-minute class held in participating stores throughout the U.S. The class is led by certified beauty advisors. And it offers a complete skincare and makeup routine designed for those facing cancer. Sephora also offers online tutorials for thrivers who can’t make it to a store.
- Wigs, hats and headwraps are great options for the beauty who does not wish to show off a newly bald crown. There are several ways to wear them. Imagine being whoever you desire by simply changing your head piece! That hair color or haircut you weren’t sure would look good you can now try with a chic wig as often as you’d like. Headwraps are also very versatile. They can offer either a regal or casual presentation, depending on how you tie them. Hats are the simplest way to sport your fashion sense in a hurry.
- Cancer’s Wax Treatment. Now that some of us are working to overcome the shock of having no hair, let’s discuss this hair topic further. There is no hair.. anywhere! And it won’t be back for some time. Think about it – bare legs and no waxes needed! We have ready-to-go legs for that cute cocktail dress. It’s perfect for those times we are well enough to enjoy life between treatments. And we effortlessly look hella good doing it!
- Do your nails. Nail salons can be risky for us during our times of treatment and even after. But there are still safe ways to manicure nails. If you are experiencing nail discoloration or pain stemming from treatment, you can soak them in 1 part white vinegar and 3 parts water to alleviate both concerns. Several companies, like Jamberry for instance, offers non-toxic polish, or easy-to-apply nail wraps that last as long as a professional gel job.
- Remember who you are. We have all heard the phrase, “beauty is only skin deep”. No matter what you feel you see in the mirror, know that your beauty is inside out! Beauty isn’t just what you are, it is who you are. Cancer may affect your beauty routine or everyday appearance. But it can not, will not, and has not touched your beauty – just illuminated it. With the external things that once added to your appearance now temporarily fading, cancer just brought your beauty into sharp focus.
Patricia Fox is a new contributor at YSC. Diagnosed with breast cancer at age 26, Patricia now shares her insights and deep wisdom in the hopes of encouraging other young adults like her. Read more about her and her work at thepinksistah.com.