A woman holds a makeup brush and looks in the mirror at her reflection, which is surrounded by friends.

Look Good, Feel Better

This was the title of a workshop I was very kindly invited to a couple of months ago as I had been dealing with skin cancer on my nose.

Apparently, bladder cancer patients are also welcome to this workshop! I wasn't aware of sessions such as this when I went through my bladder cancer treatments and, ultimately, a cystectomy. So do look at what is available in your area and query if you can also attend.

I digress. I mean, could the cancer be anywhere more obvious than on the end of my nose? Dealing with skin cancer and having a stoma and then the knee replacement scars, I just lost all my self-esteem.

Feeling like myself?

I hated to look at myself in the mirror, firstly my nose, then never being able to forget the traumatic time that I had with bladder cancer ending with a radical cystectomy and my stoma, whom I named "Winnie."

It somehow seemed friendlier if I called my stoma "Winnie," some may laugh and scoff, but it helped me.

So I had been down for over a year, partly due to being in lockdown and unable to meet with family and friends. And also because I didn't like myself very much anymore. My stoma bag would hang from my belly for the rest of my life. The huge scar on my knee will be there forever, along with the scarring on my face.

So anyway, I knew that I needed to do something. What? I had no idea, but mentally I wouldn't say I liked the place that I was in. The cancer advocacy work I had thrown myself into since my diagnosis seemed futile. So I decided to attend the workshop. What did I have to lose?

 Arriving at the center

My husband drove me to the cancer hospital (I had even lost my confidence to drive). Anyway, I found where the workshop was being held.

A group of women sat together, so I decided to join them. I was immediately welcomed. "Would you like a coffee?" I heard someone say. I turned to find an older lady with the biggest of smiles. She was talking to me. "Err, yes, please," I answered in a rather shaky voice. "I'm Jayne - welcome," she said, still holding the most welcoming of smiles. I immediately felt at ease.

Attending a "Look Good, Feel Better" workshop

Soon we were ushered into a side room where 2 ladies were waiting to greet us. There were about a dozen of us, and we were told to take a seat.

In front of each woman was the most extensive selection of cosmetics I had ever seen and a large mirror. We each introduced ourselves and gave a brief synopsis of our cancer journey. Then the session began. The two ladies who were hosting the workshop introduced themselves. In fact, they were mother and daughter.

The mother went on to remove her makeup; we worked with her using the cosmetics laid in front of us. Hints and tips and plenty of giggles were shared along the way. Then quite unexpectedly, she removed her wig! I was shocked, and I had no idea that she, too, was a cancer patient. She was so jolly, so upbeat, and inspiring.

I thought to myself, "I used to be like that." Championing and supporting others in any way I could.

Leaving the session

As we left the workshop, some of us exchanged contact details, and others hugged. I felt like every one of us got something out of that session, whether it be new makeup hints and tips or a new friendship or two. Oh, and each of us was able to keep all the cosmetics that had been laid out for us, plus a beautiful new full face of makeup. I felt like I had been to a beauty salon.

I felt uplifted. I felt a kind of calmness and happiness I hadn't felt for quite some time. I believe this session motivated me to start looking after myself better. I felt motivated to support others again and felt better about myself. So if you can attend one of these types of sessions, I would highly recommend it!

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