'Looking good did make me feel better'
Social worker Suzanne Wright, now 42, was diagnosed with breast cancer in October 2013, two months after her only son’s wedding. ‘My first thought was: am I going to live? And my second: how will I look?’ Suzanne’s mother had died of cancer at 44: ‘I didn’t want my son to see me looking like she did. If I was going out, I wanted to go gorgeously.’ Today, Suzanne is well and back at work – and indeed gorgeous, as you can see from the photograph. ‘That’s thanks to the amazing charity Look Good Feel Better.’ With the help of the beauty industry, LGFB provides free confidence-boosting skincare and make-up workshops, plus online support for people going through cancer treatment.
Suzanne went to her first LGFB workshop a week before her first session of chemotherapy. ‘I didn’t know what to expect but I felt instantly at ease. Other women were at different stages, but I was overwhelmed by the all-round support – and the humour. Although I had lots of people around me at home, I felt very lonely. Somehow the workshop gave me a stronger attitude. I thought, ok, I am taking this on with all guns blazing.’
Last year the charity launched the Warpaint4Life campaign, underlining its message that beauty can empower women to face cancer more confidently. Nurse consultant Dr. Natalie Doyle, who leads the Living With & Beyond Cancer service at The Royal Marsden Hospital in London, is a great supporter. ‘Changes in the way you look are badges of cancer. Even if you don’t think you are conscious of your appearance, once it’s challenged most people realise it does matter to them.’
While there is no evidence it has a direct effect on the disease, ‘Feeling good about your appearance can help patients get through treatment,’ says Dr. Doyle. ‘Applying make-up allows you to control something about you personally when everything else is outside your control.’
As Suzanne’s treatment progressed and she lost her hair, brows and lashes, she started to withdraw. But every day – despite thinking, ‘What’s the point if I’m just going to be sick?’ – she still applied her make-up and put on her wig. ‘I remember looking at this little Golum-like creature in the mirror and I found it very difficult, but transforming myself always helped. I would decide to go out just because I looked so much better. I was Suzanne, not a cancer patient.’
As well as the free two-hour skincare and make-up workshops in hospitals and cancer care centres, LGFB offers masterclasses for groups in private settings, a Confidence Kit (which includes a DVD and booklet with expert advice on skin- and nail-care, make-up, wigs and head coverings), plus online tutorials (see below). Visit www.lookgoodfeelbetter.co.uk for details.
HOW TO RE-CREATE MISSING EYEBROWS
‘Restoring eyebrows can really change and normalise the shape of your face,’ according to make-up artist Caroline Barnes, who demonstrates this on the charity’s YouTube channel: Look Good Feel Better UK .
To get wow brows, Caroline recommends these products:
● Benefit Gimme Brow Brow-Volumising Fibre Gel/£18.50, for people with sparse hairs.
● Estée Lauder Double Wear Stay-In-Place Brow Lift Duo/£19, which includes a highlighter to define the arch.
● Lancôme Brow Pencil/£17, which includes a brow brush.
CELEBRATE FASHION AND SUPPORT BREAST CANCER CARE
Breast Cancer Care’s annual celebrity-hosted fashion shows take place at London’s Grosvenor House Hotel on Wednesday 7th October, for afternoon tea or dinner. All the gorgeous amateur models on the catwalk have been diagnosed with breast cancer. Ticket holders also enjoy a champagne reception and musical entertainment, plus a fabulous goody bag and luxury prize draw. Tickets start from £75 and the money raised helps to fund Breast Cancer Care’s free support and information services.
To buy tickets click here or call 0345-092 0806
WEBSITE OF THE WEEK: www.keepintheloop.co.uk
Playing ping-pong is a new workplace wellbeing initiative at the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives in Bedfordshire. It took advantage of Loop, a scheme launched by Table Tennis England to get adults to exercise and bat away stress. The bonus is, unlike the gym, this doesn’t need a change of clothes. Loop has teamed up with Sport England and suppliers to offer discounts on ‘Beat the Boss’ equipment packages.