October is an important month not only for me, but all women who are going through breast cancer or have suffered from the nasty c word.
October is a time to raise awareness of the disease, rally together and put in all our efforts to fighting it forever.
Two years ago I was told I have cancer and I thought my life would be over.
I found strength in speaking to people on Facebook groups, survivors and the support from my friends and family. People make you stronger. Sharing stories and working together helps the fight.
I'm supporting The Estée Lauder Companies' Breast Cancer Awareness Campaign and sharing my story in a bid to encourage others to the same. The more we share, the more we learn and thus the more we know - knowledge is power!
So here it goes - here's my story:
I was a mother of two, aged 39 when I was diagnosed with cancer.
My 40th birthday was around the corner, and like anyone coming to such an important age; I was planning a big party to celebrate with all my nearest and dearest. I also wanted to go away with my family to celebrate.
Life was good. Things were going well. I was happy.
Just as things were on the up, I then found a lump in my breast. I was told it was most likely to be a fatty lump of tissue, but when I went back for my results I was told it was in fact cancerous.
When my doctor told me I had cancer my mind was swimming at a million miles an hour, the word cancer hadn't crossed my mind, but now it consumed me and I was in total shock. It felt like everything around me stood still and I imagined my face being like a cartoon dog, with its mouth wide open and tongue hanging out.
After finding out the devastating news, I then underwent chemotherapy. I decided to shave my head just before my second chemo session, as my hair started to fall out. I didn't want to go through the whole process of waking up every morning and finding hair on the pillow.
I had long hair so when my husband shaved my head I then looked in the mirror and cried. I felt like I'd lost my identity.
But, shaving my head marked the beginning of my battle. I entering the ring with cancer to fight it off once and for all. And, it was from this point my focus changed.
I've was a qualified make-up artist and working for MAC and my husband, Paul encouraged me to put my make-up skills to helping others going through chemotherapy. At first I thought it was a terrible idea and that there was no way I would be putting myself out there - bald - for the world to see doing this.
But then I joined a young Breast Cancer network on Facebook and everyday the girls would post about their make-up problems so I asked if they would be interested in a YouTube channel for chemo patients.
They all thought it was a brilliant idea, so I just took a leap of faith and went for it, and that's how Baldly Beautiful was born...
From my first post, people were sharing it all over the Internet and it was actually the way a lot of people found out I had breast cancer.
It was extremely heart-warming and rewarding to see that my first video I did so well - it was also encouraging to see how many people needed and wanted tutorials designed specifically for them whilst going through cancer.
Starting Baldly Beautiful really helped me have a focus while going through treatment and it gave me something positive to do with my time. Helping others who, unlike me, aren't make-up experts and don't know how to make themselves feel and look better with make-up gave me a real sense of achievement and made me feel really happy.
Whilst going through chemo your skin does actually look quite glowy, they call it 'chemo glow' and it looks really clear and smooth. However it can end up looking a bit red and puffy from the steroids or, like me, very sallow and yellow.
It's things like doing a thickish line with a flick if you have no lashes to accentuate the eyes can make all the difference. I also have suggested to counteract the high colour, flushing and blotchiness chemotherapy can cause using a green colour corrector - Boots No7 do a great one.
For sallow-looking complexions use colour correctors in more peachy tones, alongside skin brightening products, such as highlighters from Benefit, or MAC Strobe Cream, for a subtle glow.
Also, if eyes are too sore and weepy to make up invest in a waterproof liquid liner, which won't smudge and flake off if the eyes are dewy.
It all about experimenting and having fun with new looks, seeing what works and what doesn't. Its really hard going through such a massive physical change but its important to try and stay positive and for me, wearing a little bit of make up, and sharing my tips and finding has really helped and also hopefully helped others.
The Estée Lauder Companies UK & Ireland Breast Cancer Awareness (BCA) Campaign aims to inspire others to share their stories to Take Action Together to Defeat Breast Cancer. Visit BCAcampaign.com for more information. #BCAstrength
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