Since last I wrote I have mostly been busy trying to compile a list of All The Perks Of Having Chemotherapy.
I’m not going to lie – it’s a short list……
All of the Perks of Having Chemotherapy: a handy list
- First there’s naps: naps go to the top of the list because when you are having chemo you’re actively encouraged to take LOADS of them AND nobody gets to call you a lazy so-and-so when you take to your bed at three o’clock in the afternoon.
- Then there’s ice-cream: turns out, if you feel sick and ill all day and then suddenly decide you fancy some ice-cream you’ll have no trouble convincing someone to go to the shop to buy ALL OF THE ICE-CREAM for you.
- You don’t need to get your hair cut for AGES.
- If, like me, you’ve got a cat you’ll probably be able to get yourself out of litter tray duty on account of all the germs and that – although to be honest, the more I think about this one, the more I think it might be less of a perk and more of a simple re-distribution of domestic duties…..
- If you have psoriasis chemotherapy pretty much cures it in one dose and less than 48 hours
- You have to go to some lengths for this one but if you can manage to end up with compromised veins you can legitimately refuse to do any hoovering, potentially for the whole rest of forever, because – and I believe this is the correct medical term – your arm is fucked*
- If you are super lucky, you’ll manage to bag yourself a place on a Look Good Feel Better Workshop
Look Good Feel Better (LGFB)
Look Good Feel Better is an international charity working to boost the physical and emotional well being of men, women and young adults undergoing cancer treatment. The focus of their work is helping people to better cope with the more visible side effects of cancer treatment.
What LGFB do
LGFB run workshops at more than 100 hospitals in the UK. The workshops give people undergoing cancer treatment the opportunity to spend time together chatting, drinking tea and sampling skin-care and make-up products. The workshops are led by professionals who guide you through all kinds of important subjects like making the most of your chemo complexion, and re-drawing your eyebrows.
My experience of LGFB
My breast care nurse told me about LGFB the day I was diagnosed with breast cancer. She told me it was a pampering session, that I’d get a little goody bag of cosmetics to try and that it really helped people feel better about their treatment. She gave me a leaflet about it and, I suspect noting the distant how-the-fuck-can-this-be-happening, I’m-not-actually-taking-any-of-this-in look in my eye, wrote “THIS IS IMPORTANT” on the front.
I had to wait a little while for a spot on one of the workshops as they tend to be oversubscribed but I eventually rocked up to the Macmillan Advice Centre at the Leicester Royal Infirmary at 10am this morning, very much looking forward to the session.
There were seven other women at the workshop and every single one of them was amazing. I don’t suppose we had very much in common really, apart from the obvious – we were all ages, all walks of lives, different ethnicities and we’d come from at least three different counties: whenever I find myself in a group of people with cancer, I do find there is a very visual reminder that cancer doesn’t discriminate. This morning as different as we were, we were united – we were united by our diagnosis, our experiences, our eyebrow anxiety, our fear of the future, our fondness for one particular chemo nurse…..
The session was led by three make-up artists. They were super knowledgeable, really friendly and incredibly kind. They created a safe and supportive environment and made an excellent cup of tea at half time. The goody bag was fairly substantial, with some recognisable brands in mostly neutral, useable colours.
I enjoyed the worksop – my eyebrows looked better when I left than when I arrived and from here on in I will be a tad bolder with my eyeliner. More than that though, I enjoyed spending time with the other women. I loved hearing their stories, I loved being in their company, and I loved having a very real reminder that I am not alone in this – there are so very many people in the same boat, sailing along with me.
Why LGFB matters
Coming to terms with a cancer diagnosis is difficult. It’s a confusing and frightening time, and more often than not, the treatment gets underway before the patient has even started to process what’s happening or what it means.
In my experience, you find yourself catapulted into something that you’re not ready for, and that you couldn’t stop even if you wanted to. Your head is all over the place and then, before you know it and on top of everything else there’s a stranger looking back at you in the mirror, and you feel very different even though you know you are sitting there in your own skin. I’ve had days where I’ve wondered if I could face leaving the house because I didn’t feel or look like myself. I’ve had days where I’ve had to really psych myself up to get over the door because I felt so sick of facing the world looking like a cancer patient.
Getting through cancer treatment is as much about what’s going on in your head as it is about coping with the physical aspects of the treatment. LGFB helps you to get and keep your head on straight – it’s a tiny dose of confidence, a little boost of self esteem, and two hours of not thinking about anything other than how fabulous you look.
How you can help
LGFB is a charity, and as such, welcome donations and fundraisers. If you are looking to help people with cancer, LGFB is an excellent cause – they make a small but very real and important difference to the experience people undergoing cancer treatment have. More information about fundraising for LGFB is published on their website.
If marathons and tough mudders aren’t your thing, but makeup is you might also consider investing in some LGFB makeup brushes. I can personally testify as to to the quality and can’t think of a much easier way to support a great charity…..
Meanwhile in other news
Meanwhile in other news this time next week I will be exactly half way through the chemotherapy leg of the treatment which feels like a very important milestone indeed…..
As usual, we’re winding up with a song because that’s what we do, and because routines are important. It’s another old one I’m afraid, but that, I guess, is what happens when you get old…..
Love you lots like jelly tots,
*I don’t actually recommend doing this