I’m Cindy, a 36 -year-old Mum of two beautiful girls, Pearl (2) and Willow (1) and wife to a devoted and caring husband, James. We live in Perth and both James and I work in primary schools, so we enjoy going away as a family in the school holidays and spending our weekends at the beach and parks with our girls.
The night I found my lump our two girls, who were 4 months and 22 months old at the time, had finally gone down for bed. James and I fell onto the couch to watch TV when I felt an itch on my left breast. As I scratched, I felt the hard lump. Although I was still breastfeeding at the time and could have put it down to that, something urged me to get on my phone and book a GP appointment for the next day.
I was at the park with my family when I received the call from my GP. As soon as she asked if I had anyone with me at the time, I knew the results were not good. As I sat in the park, James and the girls played in the distance, unaware of the conversation being had. I reassured my GP that I will cry, but I am ok to hear the news over the phone. I had Stage 2, Triple Negative Breast Cancer.
My first instinct after telling James was to call my parents. As I cried over the phone with my parents, I remembered that my Mum, Elizabeth, was awaiting some results of her own. It was then that she told me that she had been diagnosed with Anorectal Cancer the previous day.
I was in utter shock, as my Dad was recovering from surgery, having been diagnosed with Prostate Cancer just months before.
With Christmas only days away, we all changed our plans to be together - 50% of my family was now fighting cancer together.
My treatment plan was three months of weekly chemo, two months of fortnightly chemo, and a double mastectomy and reconstruction.
A girlfriend of mine, who was unfortunately diagnosed with cancer at the same time as me, suggested we attend a Look Good Feel Better workshop for something fun to do together. I invited Mum along, as I knew she would enjoy a morning out too.
On the morning of the workshop, I was reluctant to attend as I was one day post-chemotherapy. However, as soon as we arrived, I instantly felt better. The room was filled with women that looked like me! As we sat there with our bald heads, thinning hair, little to no eyebrows and pale faces we laughed, shared stories, and learnt how to bring our faces and confidence back to life.
I learnt how to make myself look like the “old me” with makeup, and how to use headwear to cover my bald patches in my hair that I was not ready to shave at that point.
The best thing about the workshop was being with other women who were also coming to terms with their new appearance and changing bodies. As Mum said, being pampered or taught to take the time to care for and nurture ourselves throughout the changes we were experiencing was an insightful lesson.
Everyone left the workshop lighter and brighter that day - the entire experience definitely helped Mum and I to look good and feel better.
In the weeks that followed people commented on the changes in my skin. As I didn’t go out much or wear makeup during treatment, I did make sure I was practicing some self-care by using my products from the workshop to create a skincare regime. The products we were given were amazing, and we were all absolutely surprised and very grateful when we realised they were gifted to us.
Mum and I would recommend the program to anyone looking for a fun morning, in a comfortable environment surrounded by people who truly understand your experience.
I am now just about to complete my final Immunotherapy treatment and over the past 12 months, we have gained a new perspective on life. We are making plans for a future sea change to be closer to my parents and family and for our girls to grow up in the country. We are far more grateful for the simple things in life, like leaving the house and going out as a family of four and for just being together, happy, and healthy.
As a family, we spent Christmas Day 2022 in shock. I had been diagnosed four days earlier and was starting chemotherapy in five days-time. Dad was recovering, and we were anxiously awaiting Mum’s treatment plan. Despite the worry felt by the adults, we tried to keep the day as exciting and magical as possible for the kids.
This Christmas there will be no need to fake the happiness and joy. We are all cancer free and I’m looking forward to celebrating! Celebrating life, family, health, modern medicine, and feeling the best I have in 12 months. I’ve always loved Christmas but I have a feeling this might be the best one yet!
And one Christmas wish that I hope comes true is that you will consider giving a gift to Look Good Feel Better, because the magic that happens in their workshops is something those undergoing cancer treatment deserve to experience at all times of the year. Every donation makes a difference so please give what you can, if you can.
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