My name is Alli and I am a single mum of three.
If I weren’t going through cancer treatment this year, I would have been ready to complete my undergraduate diploma for interior design before commencing the first of my two degrees I hope to achieve. But unfortunately, I had to put my studies on hold in order to concentrate on my health and treatments.
I initially found a lump during my monthly breast exam this time last year. I went to my doctor and she struggled to find the lump herself but thankfully, she trusted me enough to send me for a mammogram and ultrasound. It was there that the lump was clear as day. I had three core biopsies done right then and there, and the next day my doctor’s secretary called me in for an appointment the following afternoon. I knew immediately it was breast cancer. I guess that is why once she had said the words “It’s not the news we were hoping for – it’s cancer”, I was able to hold it together for her to talk me through all of the next steps.
I remember watching my daughter fall apart and trying to help her cope with the news. I seemed to just fall into a mindset of getting through telling both of my sons, and then my parents. I wanted them to see that I was strong, and I hoped that it would help them cope with the news better.
It was not until I was alone later that night that it suddenly dawned on me – I finally found myself hearing the words “It’s cancer” over and over again. I remember standing in the middle of my backyard, tears streaming down my face, terrified of all the unknowns. How long had it been there? How bad was it? Was it anywhere else? Then I became so scared that I just wanted to dig it out of my body myself. Right there and then, I wanted it out!
I commenced treatment just after Christmas last year and a couple of months later I was talking to my Breast Care Nurse on the phone. I was telling her that I had lost a lot of my hair and that I was feeling self-conscious about that, along with the possibility of losing my eyebrows. I was really scared of losing them, as I had no idea how to draw them on from scratch. I was extremely hesitant to go to one of the Look Good Feel Better workshops as I was so self-conscious, and I found myself feeling very scared to be on my own. I had watched many, many videos on how to draw on eyebrows but I was reluctant to do them in front of complete strangers. I guess being critical of myself was a part of who I was. Knowing that others were in the same situation as me didn’t really give much comfort either, which is a shame.
My nurse mentioned that Look Good Feel Better were offering Home-Delivered Confidence Kits and Virtual Workshops to help with headwear and make-up. She offered to send me the referral form for me to consider and thankfully, my daughter thought it was a fantastic idea and she encouraged me to fill out the form. I am so grateful that I did.
Having the Home-Delivered Confidence Kit arrive at my home meant that I could take the time to go through the products, play with the ones I was already familiar with and then sit and spend time on my own practicing with the other products. But the whole package was wonderful!
From the moment it arrived at my door I was filled with excitement – something that I hadn’t felt in months. I felt loved, cared for and so extremely grateful. I had never owned anything Chanel before and when I saw inside the package that there were all of these amazing products and beautiful colours I couldn’t believe it. I was so emotional, I couldn’t stop the tears from flowing. I felt like a little girl on Christmas morning.
I remember racing to my room and putting on my lipstick and feeling like the prettiest girl in the world. There I was, sitting in my loungeroom watching TV with my daughter in my pjs, patchy yucky hair, pale as a ghost, feeling so sick. But I had my lipstick on, and I was beautiful!
During this whole journey I have tried to hide myself. I felt ugly. I felt like a pin cushion, being poked and prodded all the time. Having parts of me taken away and chemicals put back in. I wanted to hide away from it all. But then I received the Home-Delivered Confidence Kit and for the first time since it all happened, I was excited. Excited to try the products and excited to show people. I started with the makeup and skin products and as my confidence came back, I started wearing my wigs. I was finding a new me, a stronger me, a better me.
This is what Look Good Feel Better did for me, and I will always be grateful for that.
I have found a lot of my friends have been really supportive and caring throughout this journey and I finally have a relationship with my parents that I never had before. The best part of it all, though, has been finding the new relationship I have with myself. For the first time in my life, I can honestly feel proud of myself. Proud of what I have had to do to get through cancer and the horrific treatments that come with it. I have been through every emotion there is since my diagnosis in November last year and I can now look back on the journey so far with pride, and even feel a little courage for the future. I can honestly say I am a whole new person.
The Look Good Feel Better program is amazing and is such a wonderful gift for those of us having to deal with all that cancer throws at us. It doesn’t just teach us the fundamentals of makeup or headwear, it also teaches us to be proud of who we are and what we are going through. The makeup helps us to feel pretty and a little like our old selves, but honestly, I think the makeup makes me feel empowered and a little bit like a warrior – Look Good Feel Better helps us with our armour that we wear going into battle every day.
I am not hiding who I am or what I am going through behind the make-up, I am wearing the make-up to show people who I am and how proud I am of what I am achieving on a day to day basis.
If you would consider giving a gift to Look Good Feel Better this Christmas, know that your generosity will help thousands more Australians feel as excited and empowered as I did.