“Before my diagnosis, work was becoming more demanding and I was under a lot of stress just keeping up and balancing home and work life.  The diagnosis came as a break. I stopped everything to focus on myself; to think, to be calm, to relax and to get ready for the treatment that was to come.

My cancer was self-examined. I had two lumps in my breast, one of which was near my upper ribs. It was initially thought to be nothing – perhaps a swelling of the cartilage to my ribs – and the x-ray that was ordered to examine the bone showed all was normal. But I knew that something was not quite right, so got a second opinion from another doctor. From there, all was set in motion with a quick succession of examination, biopsy, and diagnosis.

The waiting period before the news was emotional. It is not something you think would happen to you if you’ve done all the right things to keep healthy. I am in my late 40’s and have been active and healthy my whole life; traveling, working and raising a family.

I have a husband, two children in their early teens, and elderly parents whose care I share with my five brothers and sisters. The fear I had for my family and myself was overwhelming. My mind was preoccupied with many questions and doubts, and thinking of worst-case scenarios. It did take a long time before I could see the bright side of recovery. The fear put me into a frenzy but it is something I got over when I had a plan; over time, I accepted that I just had to get through each phase.

Though well meaning, I wanted to get away from the talk of treatment with family and friends, which is why I booked into a Look Good Feel Better workshop. I wanted to do something that didn’t have a focus on medicine and appointments. Meeting women similar to myself – not ‘patients’ – made it feel good.

I picked up some makeup tips and realised that not having eyebrows is not the end of the world! I got useful advice on headwear and skin care as well.  But what I appreciated the most was the feeling of genuine care from the volunteers for the wellbeing of participants. You can tell they love doing the workshops.

My experience after the workshop was just as wonderful, as I could talk to my children and my husband about something other than treatment! It was a happy and fun experience and sharing that with them made us all feel really good. It was a more than welcome distraction.

I would definitely recommend Look Good Feel Better to others going through treatment.  It is something nice and unexpected that helps lift your mood. It gave me a change of pace that I really needed in the middle of some very unpleasant times.

These days, on my weekends I spend time with my parents to just “be” and make up for time missed whilst overseas. I have developed an interest in photography through documenting my growing children and I enjoy taking photos of their sports as a way to participate in the sport with them.  I think my life is more multi-dimensional now than it has ever been. I’m a parent, a child, a carer and happy doing as much as I can – including taking on a new puppy who is currently 12 weeks old!”

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