My name is Jo and I am 36 years old. My husband, two kids and I love the outdoors and we spend most of our weekends exploring new areas and places on foot or bike, or getting to harder to reach places in a 4WD with the tent on the roof.
When we are not away for the weekend we spend our time with family and friends, adventuring, or enjoying a few boardgames. We are lucky enough to have grown up and lived in a town surrounded by National Park and have enjoyed the past three and a half years living in Tasmania.
I’m pretty sure the lump on my neck came up overnight. I wasn’t freaking out about it, but I knew it was not normal. It was hard, popped-up very quickly and initially didn’t cause pain. But it was big – I could see it when looking in the mirror.
My Mum and Sister are medical professionals, so I causally took a picture and sent it to them asking “what do you think this is? Place your bets”. Their advice was “Not sure what it is, but you need to get it checked out.” This was in May 2020, in the midst of COVID-19 lockdowns.
My GP insisted on urgent scans – she had a healthy and fit 35-year-old sitting in front of her with a large neck lump. Advanced stage Hodgkin Lymphoma was the diagnosis.
Within three weeks a lump had appeared on my neck, I had a diagnosis, and I had started treatment. In May I was working full-time at home along with my husband, and the two kids were at school. By June I was in a cancer clinic receiving IV chemo.
Writing that sounds alarming. For me, I actually don’t think it all sunk in until I had finished my treatment. My family and I rode the wave of chemo for six months. Our lives rolled in 14-day cycles, which is very different to ‘normal life’.
When I found out about the Look Good Feel Better Virtual Workshops, I was not reluctant to participate. I did not grow up with a lot of knowledge around beauty products or how to look after my skin, so I was really keen to learn about what impacts the treatment would have on me and how best to manage them.
I learnt so much from the Virtual Workshops. Before participating, I didn’t really know anything about skin changes and hair loss resulting from treatment. The workshops focused on what was relevant, talked through the impacts of treatment, offered suggestions for the types of products that could help manage them, as well as offering ways to manage them.
When going through treatment or just finding out about your diagnosis, you can feel very overwhelmed with information, thoughts and things you need to do. I’d also requested a Home-Delivered Confidence Kit and having all the resources you need provided in the Kit, along with the knowledge on how to use them through the Virtual Workshops is excellent. It takes away the need to find and collate this information and the products for yourself; one extra burden you don’t need at this point in time.
The Look Good Feel Better Virtual Workshops and Home-Delivered Confidence Kit left me feeling a lot more confident in knowing how to manage my hair loss and skin irritation and sensitivity. It filled a gap in knowledge during diagnosis and treatment.
I have finished treatment for now and I see a Haematologist regularly to keep an eye on things. I am now in the ‘recovery’ phase and I will return to work shorty, but in a reduced capacity as I regain strength and stamina. My hair is growing back slowly and I’m confident to wear nothing on my head these days. My eyebrows and eyelashes are also returning which is so nice.
The Look Good Feel Better program provided me with very practical tips that I continue to use and appreciate. The information was invaluable and the support was something no other service provider within the treatment experience was able to provide.
I would absolutely recommend Look Good Feel Better to others going through cancer treatment and if you’re able to, I encourage you to give a gift in support of the program this tax time. Your tax-deductible donation will ensure the Look Good Feel Better program can continue to provide much-needed support to all Australians who are searching for boost of confidence while undergoing cancer treatment.