Thursday, December 10, 2009

Look Good, Feel Better

Yesterday's blood tests showed my white blood counts are extremely low: if you cough on me I'll die. Other than that, I feel pretty good. Having a low white count can kill you but it's asymptomatic. And, it means the chemo is working.

My appearance is suffering though - I'm starting to look like the beginnings of a cancer patient. My skin is dry as a bone. I've aged five years in one week. All the moisture has been sucked out of me, leaving wrinkles inside of wrinkles.

At the same time, I'm breaking out like a high school freshman marching band - red flags raised high. I've always been the unlucky middle-aged woman who had to keep her Stridex pads next to the Olay wrinkle cream - but this is ridiculous. It's only a matter of time before somebody calls me Pizza Face. Plus, my skin, where it isn't red and broken out, is turning yellow and sallow. My eyes appear sunken in, dark circles below.

I've not lost any hair yet but the texture is changing. It's getting brittle and frizzy.

Fortunately, I'd heard about a class that will help cancer patients deal with some of the physical changes that come along with treatment. It's put on by the American Cancer Society and is called, Look Good, Feel Better.

There isn't much that would get me out of the house on a frigid and dark Wednesday night, but the lure of free makeup is one of those things. At 5:30 pm, I set my GPS and off I went.

The American Cancer Society is located across the street from Arden Fair Mall - a traffic nightmare at 6:00 a couple weeks before Christmas. Fortunately, I found parking, ironically, behind a Hooters restaurant. I parked my one-breasted self (just call me Hoot) in their lot and walked to the suite where the class was held.

Upon arrival, we were given a goodie bag full of makeup, hundreds of dollars worth. The brands ranged from Wet and Wild to Estee Lauder to Chanel. One compact was so gorgeous I immediately thought I should give it to my stepdaughter as a Christmas present. Since we ended up using it in our lessons though, it's now mine.

An esthetician began with skin care and moved on to makeup lessons. She used a woman who had already lost her hair and brows as a model. I've been putting on makeup for years, of course, but have no idea how to recreate eyebrows on a bare forehead - now I know. One thing they recommended was to make sure we threw our old makeup away - since we now have no immune systems, any bacteria on our old makeup can be harmful.

After the esthetician was finished, a cancer survivor gave us lessons in wig-shopping and styling, and also gave us tips on headwear.

Did you know you can make a turban out of an old tee shirt? And, that it looks pretty good, at least as far as cancer-chic headwear goes?

Some hats were set out on the table for us to choose from. I picked three - one plain blue fleece one for sleeping, one brown scrunchy one that will go below my ears, and a pink hand-made knit one that won't cover a bald head but I thought might look cute with a wig. I've never been a hat person. Another thing that has to change.

The class is free and it's fun. They have them in every state. And, you get a ton of free loot. If you are experiencing cancer treatment - I recommend you sign up. But, try not to park near Hooters.


  1. I'm glad you enjoyed the workshop. I liked it too. I met some really great ladies there that I email with now too.

    Your Hooters comment cracked me up because right after my diagnosis I found myself standing in front of a Hooters and took a pic of their sign and uploaded it to my facebook page and it illicited quite a few laughs given the situation. Laughter is key to getting through all of this. You're doing marvelously :).

    The dry skin is so annoying, isn't it!? Dr.Bronners makes an organic peppermint lotion that is sold at Whole Foods. I like it b/c it's organic but also the peppermint aroma comes in useful if you feel queasy from the chemo.

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  3. I have LWBC and I want goodies too!!

    Good shout about the old make up carrying bacteria - not thought about that.

  4. Are you getting Nulasta shots the day after chemo? Stimulates white blood cell production.


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