We continue our three-part blog series in honor of National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month with part two of Karen’s story. To read her first post, click here.
By Karen from Washington, DC
Everyone needs to start somewhere in the search for “normalcy” as a cancer survivor. At this point, I am bald. I have just purchased a wig and I am waffling between “it is obvious I have cancer and I am wearing a wig” and “I look okay.” I go back to the hospital for a workshop entitled “Look Good Feel Better” and know it has to do with makeup, but I am unsure what I may get out of it. I go seeking reassurance, camaraderie and a place to test my wig among people who don’t know me.
Hans, a volunteer instructor, opens the seminar with the day’s agenda. At his right is a pretty woman who nods in agreement, as he tee’s up the subjects he intends to cover. The first topic – wigs! He turns to a woman in the workshop and asks her to remove her wig.
I am totally surprised she is wearing a wig! She looked beautiful and when she takes off her wig and shows her fuzzy head, they have my full attention. Here was a person who looked terrific and her wig was a non-issue for anyone who saw her. Exhale! It was possible that my wig would be one tool to reclaim my life.
Hans then had her put her wig back on and showed us she could style it – with a headband, barrette or ribbon. His point, not lost on me, it looked natural.
He then showed us scarf tricks, hats and ball caps with hair. As a group we chatted about the possibilities, the positive vibes filed the room. He planted the seed – all of us – had the potential to meet the public with our heads up and no one would be the wiser.
We received a kit of skincare and cosmetic products, and spent time talking about makeup, changes to our skin and skin tone. He noted that many of us would lose all of our hair, including eye lashes and brows. At that point, I was listening but not internalizing the possibility of no brows and lashes, in addition to no hair…
Flash forward a couple months later, and I resumed going to work. This included attending Board meetings and conferences. I even had to be on stage as a presenter. The seed that Hans planted during my Look Good Feel Better class came to fruition. I was able to function with confidence, not giving a thought to my baldness or my wig. My picture appeared in trade journals and one never would have guessed my status as a cancer patient, or as someone who was wearing a wig.
Look good, feel better – indeed- the workshop gave me the gift to present myself as myself. My epiphany that morning was that I had the tools to pick up where I left off pre-chemo. Attending the Look Good Feel Better workshop gave me a confidence boost, just when I needed it.
Stay tuned for the final part of our three-part blog series…