This simple six-letter word has so much power. It has the strength to steal hopes and dreams and replace them with dread and despair.
It strikes a sickening fear into the hearts of those who hear it, for the straightforward reason that it forces us to stare into the face of our own bleak mortality.
When you hear that monstrously personified word, so many things end, so many things are over.
When you hear that devastating arrangement of letters, you can leave a part of your carefree spirit in that sad chair in the doctor’s office.
In your head, you stop being a person and become a patient.
Why must you feel like you have lost the beauty and uniqueness that makes you, you? That word shouldn’t dictate who you are.
1 in 3 people will face this trauma, this crisis of identity. Every day, every week and every year; fighting. Fighting to retain themselves, fighting to see tomorrow, fighting to live.
However, a side that people don’t necessarily associate with cancer patients is the retention of their beauty regime. Obviously, with the drugs and treatment, their routine and beauty products would naturally have to change.
Recently, I have had the pleasure of corresponding with Jennifer of Jennifer Young. She is the founder of beauty brand “Beauty Despite Cancer”. She helps men and women see they are still beautiful, they don’t have to stop being a “normal” person and they are not alone.
An area some would say is trivial, has monumental effect on the ego, the psyche and outlook of an individual sifting through a swamp of sickness, surgeries and side effects.
Defiant Beauty, specialist skincare and cosmetics range, aim to help cancer patients keep some of themselves when treatment demands they must change nearly all of their old habits that made up their familiar, daily routine.
Appearance is still important to everyone, regardless of their weight, height, circumstance, ability or health.
Jennifer felt so strongly about this, she published a book. Aptly named “Recognise Yourself” is a resplendently designed guide to personal care and well-being whilst crusading against chemotherapy, radiotherapy, surgery and hair loss.
Canvasing subject areas rom scalp care to bras and nutrition to suitable cosmetics, “Recognise Yourself” is the ironclad bible of how to look after yourself beyond the label of an illness.
What skincare range won’t bring you out in a rash? What are the steps you can take to stop your wig or headwear rubbing or moving? What eyeshadow can you use that won’t irritate your skin?
Jennifer has all the answers:
About 6 years ago, some ladies from my local NHS cancer centre contacted me and asked me to create a skincare range for cancer patients. The nurses helped and we all worked together to make ‘Defiant Beauty’.
I expected the world of cancer support to be dark and filled with misery, I absolutely did not want to work with cancer patients, as I felt that I wouldn’t be able to cope with the emotion. I have learned that I couldn’t have been more wrong! The world of cancer support is filled with love and light and humour and laughter. I have met and am friends with some of the most amazing people in the world and I so did not expect that! I have also learned that women with cancer are discriminated against by the beauty industry. There were no beauty products for women with cancer until I made some. There were no accessible courses to teach therapists how to work with those affected by cancer, until we developed some. Therapists are taught that cancer is a contraindication. All of this at a time when women need the benefits of beauty and holistic therapies most. It made me cross and I decided to change it.
The business has grown enormously. I agreed to create and manufacture the products for the hospital to sell, as long as they didn’t order too much. I had a (skincare manufacture) day job and whilst I wanted to help the women at the hospital, I didn’t want it to take over. At one point I wondered if anyone else would be interested in our products and services… they were!
The feedback has been amazing, I get emails and messages every day from people telling me how much our products and services help – here are the messages that landed just today:
“I just wanted to send through a copy of this email received from a patient of ours who attended our Skin & Make-Up Care Workshop –
“Another patient who volunteered for the make-up artist to demo on arrived with extremely red, sore and itchy skin. We used the cleanse & moisturise; facial spritz (which everyone loved!) and serum, followed by JY make up – Everyone including myself was amazed at the immediate calming effect after just one application this had on this lady’s skin I will be forwarding photos in due course.
“Thank you Jennifer for developing this product range and reaching out to all of us, especially our cancer patients here at St Francis.
“This is the beginning of something really special:
“Just to say a huge thank you for including me on yesterday’s skin care and makeup workshop. It was a really fun morning and I learned a lot. Thank you also for the products, which I am resplendent wearing this morning! I have also started reading the book, which is so relevant for me and others in a similar situation. You are doing a brilliant job for us.
I forgot to put on my form that the products seem so good and it would be helpful if they could be available to buy at the Spring Centre.
Thank you for everything you are doing and for being so lovely. It makes a hard situation much easier.
This case study is one of the first and it has always stayed with me, I talk about it a lot to others, I had no idea that a skin care product could be so significant http://www.beautydespitecancer.co.uk/case-studies/defiant-beauty-changed-my-life
I am not sure what prompted me to write the book, I asked myself that a lot when I was working on it! I meet so many ladies who all ask the same kind of questions and have the same concerns. I wanted to make the answers that I had more widely available.
We have so much on-going that it is hard to think of the future. The present is all encompassing. I suspect that we will do the same but in more countries. Hopefully some of them will have great beaches, bars and restaurants as well as a yoga retreat or two?
To find out more about Lisa, or the rest of the PosAbility team visit the Meet The Team section.