“Earlier this year, life as I knew it changed completely. I was diagnosed with cancer. I actually found the lump myself late at night on a weekend so I had to wait until Monday to see my GP. He reassured me that it would be OK, but sent me off to do some tests as a precaution. I was feeling increasingly nervous as the day went on. I was sent for further tests and people were telling me less at each step of the way. It was another eight days before I was told it was cancer.

I am a 54-year-old mother of three adult children and grandmother to three grandchildren. Before my diagnosis, my life revolved around family but I also worked as a full-time Human Resources Manager which kept me very busy. We live on a five-acre block in Dubbo with a beautiful garden which takes up many pleasurable hours of work.

My initial reaction worried my doctor because I really just sat there silently trying to absorb my new reality, while my head was racing in turmoil. He kept asking if I had any questions, but I didn’t know what I wanted or needed to know. I really just wanted the time to take it in and think on my own.

My husband, Mark, had been with me the whole time and as we drove home we started to talk it through. He is a very logical person who could start to put together a list of what would happen next, whereas I’m usually the one worrying about what everyone else will need. I didn’t know how or what I would tell the kids, my mum and my sister. I didn’t know how to help Mark to cope.

Before long I came out of my fog enough and organised to see a specialist surgeon and my breast care nurse mentioned the Look Good Feel Better workshop to me. I had also heard about it through friends in the community. My sister encouraged me to go along and have some fun with it.

Prior to being ill I used to do a full hair and make-up routine daily, even on weekends! My appearance had changed so much, I felt that attending the workshop might give me some tips to cope with this. I also thought it might be good to have some fun with other ladies who would be feeling the same way.

Sure enough I went along and there were a lot of positives about the workshop, the amount of information covered, the quality of products we used – and the fact we could take them home! But mostly, I appreciated the caring nature of the volunteers who ran the workshop – they were all very naturally gentle and kind people who made me feel very welcome and comfortable. They were honest and funny, relaxed and helpful.

The workshop renewed my interest in putting on make-up and that made me feel better and more confident when I went out in public. I became less worried about my bald head and have become more accepting of my appearance through seeing so many other ladies going through what I was on the day. It was actually the very first time I had allowed anyone else to see me in my bald state.

I was surprised to find out that Look Good Feel Better provides this service for free and can only do this because of people like you who donate and support the program. I would recommend Look Good Feel Better to others going through treatment for cancer. It’s an opportunity to have fun, but it also reminds you that you are not alone and gave me something besides the words “cancer” to focus on. I would encourage you to please make a donation today and ensure Look Good Feel Better can continue its work right around Australia.

Since my diagnosis, I really can’t believe how much time and effort goes into just handling things each day. Right from dealing with surgery, waiting on test results, trying to remain positive and healthy, to starting chemotherapy and dealing with so many side-effects and challenges that this treatment has hit me with.

My structured days are long gone. Now I prefer spending time with family. I set smaller goals for myself, celebrate my achievements and go easy on myself if I don’t succeed. I accept help more readily from others. Overall, my life has become quieter with no work pressure and not much of a social life. I spend my days alone rather than dealing with a revolving door of staff, and I spend a lot of time just healing and trying to deal with the ongoing physical and emotional challenges. Look Good Feel Better helped me find the confidence I had lost and I urge you to please make a donation today and help make a difference to women like me.”
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