My partner and I met in Australia and moved to London together four years ago when I was 23 years old. I am self-employed, providing consulting and training services in the data protection and IT governance environment for businesses. I set-up the business when I was living in the UK alongside co-founding a cybersecurity startup with exciting new opportunities.
Whilst living in the UK, I noticed a pea-sized lump in my neck. It was around for a few weeks and I didn’t think much of it. Then over two days, the lump grew from the size of a pea to the size of a golf ball and I knew I had to immediately get it checked.
I wasn’t actually worried about it at all at first; the three week process was that it was just a cist and we were testing to be sure, so I went to my hospital appointment for the results by myself. But the ultrasound and biopsy confirmed a cancer diagnosis – Hodgkins Lymphoma.
When I was first told, I didn’t really comprehend what it was. I immediately started asking questions about a solution. When the doctor mentioned that a few months of chemotherapy would be required, everything sank in and I was an emotional mess.
I spent the next 48 hours telling my family, calling all my clients and dropping out of work, and packing up our apartment to fly home to Australia immediately for treatment. The decision was made instantly as there wasn’t any way I’d be tackling this alone in the UK.
After receiving my diagnosis, everything stopped. The financial position my partner and I had forecasted we would be in by this time so we could start achieving our future plans was disrupted, and emotionally I felt like my life was ‘taken’ from me. However, you do gain a new appreciation for everything you ever had, realise you can earn it all back, and you start to move forward.
When I was offered the chance to attend a Look Good Feel Better workshop, I wasn’t reluctant to attend. I know someone who was reluctant because she didn’t want to feel like she had cancer, and such a workshop would confront that, but we actually ended up attending together and it felt like a great opportunity for friends to just hang out and get some make-up tips.
The workshop delivers exactly what it offers – it makes you look good and feel better. Not just because of the make-up or headwear, but also because you have a chance to spend time with other women who are dealing with the impact of their condition. The challenge of managing the physical side effects is one hundred times better when you’re not trying to figure it out on your own.
How to properly draw on eyebrows and put colour back in my cheeks was key for me, but being able to just let go of all the stresses that cancer causes due to physical changes and to be looked after for those two and a half hours is incredible. The whole workshop was stress-free and fun.