“In 2001, I found a lump in my left breast around the same time my scheduled mammogram was due, so I went along and everything came back as normal. Thinking that the lump was just a blocked milk duct and feeling fit and healthy I just forgot about it. But the lump continued to grow.

I mentioned it to my doctor early in 2002 who sent me for a biopsy straight away. The results came back positive and my initial reaction was: What does this mean for my children? What does this mean for me? Although I am not usually one to react too quickly and I am generally a very positive person.

So I did what I had to do. I underwent a lumpectomy of the left breast followed by chemotherapy and radiotherapy. I came out of the diagnosis with positive results.

However, in January 2015 I discovered another lump. This time it was in the right breast and so I had another lumpectomy with six weeks of radiotherapy to follow. I also had a mastectomy and underwent chemotherapy yet again.

The second diagnosis made things a little more intense. I struggled to stay positive especially on those down days when I was feeling most ill. But when you start to look good and feel better again you realise, YES life can still be good and there is more to come – places to go – people to see.

I first attended the Look Good Feel Better program during my first diagnosis in Wollongong with another cancer patient and remembered the experience as one that I had enjoyed. This time, the breast care nurse at Shoalhaven Cancer Care Centre gave me a folder with information for cancer patients, which included the LGFB program. I didn’t feel like I needed to go again.

However, after the mastectomy and the recent bout of chemotherapy, the nurse again hinted that maybe I should go, and I am so glad I did. I went into the workshop hiding behind a scarf and walked out 10 feet taller. I paraded around town hoping to bump into someone I knew as I felt so good. This lifted my morale so much that I am sure my whole body has reacted to help me get through the rest of my treatment. How grateful I was. I did not think that this could be possible.

I learnt so many things at the workshop but learning how to shape my eyebrows was a big bonus. I had not used tinted moisturizer before and this was just a great tip given my skin is so fair. Plus, I learnt many ways I could dress up a scarf or wear a hat.

Realising the opportunity to look good really does make you feel better was just the best thing. More confident, bigger smiles, more to give back to yourself and I am sure the ability to heal your inner self more quickly both physically and mentally.

When your children and friends see you happy and looking very healthy their perception of your illness changes. They see you as more positive and then they become positive, which reflects back the full circle to you – the patient helping you to cope better with the trauma of the disease.

Sometimes we do things, or go somewhere that we do not feel we want to do which turns out to be a gem in our life that we don’t. This workshop was one of those times. Life is all about opportunity, grab it will both hands!”

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