This week I had the pleasure of discovering an amazing young women, Chanel White, who writes at The Tube Fed Wife and works to raise awareness and advocate for those living with terminal illness. As a fellow fashion lover, her article “Why I Still Want to Look Beautiful, Even Though I’m Dying” hit home for me. Chanel talks about why she spends time on her appearance while battling a terminal illness. Many people don’t get it and think it’s pointless to worry about such “superficial” things in the face of such devastation, but the the truth is that the “superficial” routine can bring you an immense sense of confidence and joy. For me, that beauty routine was one of the only things that brought me some semblance of normality and comfort during the worst time of my life.
As a carefree 20 something year old pre-cancer, I loved fashion and beauty. I took great care in planning my outfits, researching the newest products and perfecting my makeup craft. My free time was spent frequenting the beauty counters at Nordstrom, searching the local thrift stores for unique items and pining over the latest brow products. When cancer hit, it was a rude awakening and caused an immense shift in my priorities. Not only did my appearance change drastically but the time and money I previously had to spend on my beauty interests was quickly diverted to medical bills.
There was a short period of time where I considered giving up the beauty routines that brought me so much enjoyment, but I realized that this was actually a time when I needed them the most. I needed to feel like my self and feel beautiful. So, I ended the pity party, wiped away my tears, and dragged out my makeup. I stayed true to my normal beauty routines and it ended up bringing me some sense of comfort and joy while the rest of my life turned upside down.
Everyone wants to feel confident and beautiful why shouldn’t the same be true during cancer? I longed to feel beautiful, while I lost control of so many other aspects of my life. So, each morning, I would drag my tired, chemo-menopausal butt out of bed and begin piecing myself together. Starting with my body I’d carefully choose comfortable clothing to cover mastectomy bra and prosthesis concealing the cavity where my right breast once lay. Slowly, I’d begin to change my boyish uneven figure back to neutral. Little by little, I could see myself transforming from a 12 year old teenage boy I didn’t recognize into that beautiful human being I remembered seeing in the mirror just a few months prior. As treatment dragged on, this morning ritual helped me find an inner strength I never knew I had.
I never wanted people to see me as sick. If I gave into the sick feeling inside, the look of sickness on the outside would take me down a dangerous path of despair. I wanted to define cancer for myself and for this new generation of younger cancer patients. Gone are the days where cancer only impacts the elderly. I wanted to take on each day with a look that showed I wasn’t letting cancer control my life. I wanted the fashion forward makeup-loving girl within to shine through.
I worked all throughout treatment and having that social interaction gave me purpose each day. Each morning no matter how tired I was, I found the motivation to get up and spend time on my appearance. This ritual helped me see my experience and my bodily changes with more love and compassion instead of the anguish that threatened to take over. I wasn’t just that sickly chemo patient I was ME going through cancer. This was temporary! Spending the time on my appearance each day helped me find my inner happiness and a beauty I never saw in myself before.
As I now face life after cancer, I am taking the same approach. Each day, I get up and find a way to leave the house happy with my appearance. Even when that pesky zit appears or my hair doesn’t cooperate, I find some way to be thankful for the face staring back at me and the body that continues to fight each day. I find this routine brings me happiness and helps me see the world through a lens of love and compassion. When I am confident, I am happy and when I am happy, it is easier to find the self-love I need to carry on.
Wherever you may be in your cancer battle and whatever demons you may be facing, remember that you have the power to choose your happiness in this moment. Take the time to see yourself and your beauty within. Take the time to care for yourself. God knows you’re worth it!
These beautiful ladies represent the message of this post so perfectly! They are are owning their look and never let cancer dull their style. I have linked each of their blogs below so you can learn more about each of them.
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