Tag Archive | kinship

Skin deep Beauty

I have tried to take advantage of the different workshops and activities offered through the cancer department at the hospital I am treated at.  One particular class is a two hour workshop on how to make yourself look beautiful so you  can feel better about yourself while going through cancer treatment.  Due to scheduling difficulties I was not able to attend one of these until very recently and had to drive a little distance to a different hospital in order to attend.

When I entered the conference room I felt like I was walking into a little girl’s princess birthday party.  The table had little mirrors standing up at each place with bags of makeup and various things at each place.  The only thing missing was cake but they did have bottles of water for everyone.  We sat on sides of the table depending on the color of our skin tone because the makeup kits were arranged that way.  It didn’t take long for all of us to start meeting each other and sharing where we were in our treatment, comparing hospitals, side-effects, etc.  Again, it was that cancer camaraderie as we were quickly joined in sisterhood.  During the course of the night, the “host” had to ask everyone to be quiet several times because we were so wrapped up in conversation.

Our “host” spent the evening “demonstrating” not only how to put makeup on but instructing us in the order to do it in.  There were twelve steps.  No one had told  me I was going to a twelve step program!  “Hi!  My name is Sue and I am a recovering cancer patient.”  I said our host was “demonstrating” in quotes because she never took her makeup off at the start and never actually touched her face with anything the entire evening.  She also was not allowed to physically help any of us or apply makeup to our face but was only allowed to demonstrate, so demonstrate she did by pretending to put it on her face! It really was quite comical.  Just as comical was the sorry looking lot of us.  I think the majority of us were the type that hardly wore makeup even when we didn’t have cancer.  Either women were there looking for a social gathering or the fact that we normally don’t wear much makeup meant we really needed this class especially now!  I was amazed at all the different products to use.  What was really nice is that companies donate all the products and we were each able to leave with a large bag full (our goody bag from the “party”).

In addition to the makeup, we also had a brief session on wigs although I think everyone there already had a wig.  Different types of hats and head coverings were also shown.  I must say that all of us did look very pretty by the end of the evening and probably felt a little better about how we looked at the moment anyway.

The next morning I was excited to try to repeat what I learned the previous night after I got out of the shower.  I opened the bag of supplies I was sent home with and was dumbfounded.  What was I supposed to put on first?  Twelve steps were far too many to remember this early in the morning.  Okay, I lied.  It’s too many steps to remember at any time of the day!  Which one is for the eyes?  What direction are you supposed to start applying from?  It was time consuming too.  Remember how I said it was so quick for me to get ready for work now that I have no hair?  Putting on all the stuff to make yourself look beautiful is very time consuming!  I decided after that first morning that I would stick to just a few simple things so my eyes and eyebrows can be seen since my lashes and brows are gone.  It helps to give others something to at least focus on and know it’s your face they are looking at.  Other than that, I’m still me and am happy being plain me.  I do congratulate all you beautiful looking women knowing the time it took for you to get ready!

I met a woman at radiation who told me she was going to get her eyelashes “done.”  I didn’t know what she was referring to and she said you can get individual eyelashes applied/glued on to fill in places you lost them during chemo.  I asked her where you go to get that done assuming it was some expensive type of salon and to my surprise she said, “Walmart.”  Now that sounds like something doable in the future.

It’s important to take care of yourself and to look presentable but we don’t all need to look gorgeous everyday unless we’re a model and even then someone else does it all for you.  It’s fun to dress up and follow the 12 steps if we’re going somewhere special or for a certain occasion but that’s not for me on a regular basis.  I tend to believe that real beauty is deeper than skin deep.  Proverbs 31:30 reads, “Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;  but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” (NIV)  1 Samuel 16:7 says, “The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”(NIV)  In Galatians 2:6 it says that God does not judge by external appearances.  “ Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.” (1 Peter 3:3-4 NIV) I’ll take striving to be a model for inner beauty any day over outer beauty.  I’d rather spend my time and effort working on the inside than the outside.  You know what, I feel better too!

Do you need to hear that YOU are beautiful?!  Check out this link to “Beautiful” by Mercy Me:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bmUfJtsaqps&feature=related

Cancer Camaraderie

Well today I was fortunate enough to attend the “Celebration of Life” luncheon given in recognition of the 25th Annual National Cancer Survivors Day, given by the The Cancer Program at the hospital I receive my treatment from.  I really wasn’t sure what it was going to be like but the keynote speaker looked interesting, I was available, and it was free.  I hadn’t invited anyone to go with me because I wasn’t real sure what the whole thing was going to be like.  On the way there a major road I needed to access was closed at the entrance ramp and detoured me in the opposite direction.  Upon finally getting turned around all three lanes went into one and I found myself sitting in traffic thinking I would be very late.  I was ready to turn around and just come home but I am so glad I didn’t.

Upon arriving I assumed there must be other functions going on with all the cars and people dressed up.  I was greeted warmly at the door and to my surprise there were no other functions going on.  The place was filled with 700 people, mostly cancer survivors, some doctors and staff, and some friends.  Remember I said I came alone?  At this point it was easy to find seating for one and just look for an empty seat.  I tried to pick a table of women around my age and sat down.  A waitress took my order and when the food was served I had a delicious salmon dinner.

The speaker was a comedian who was also a juggler and an author but more importantly is a 20 year cancer survivor.  His message on surviving with a positive attitude was filled with jokes that especially appealed to anyone who has undergone cancer treatment and dealt with hospitals and doctors.  We laughed repeatedly.  He even entertained us by juggling.  We all received a copy of his book to take home as well.  I was so impressed that even in a room of 700, my oncologist recognized me, came over, called me by name and welcomed me!

As much as I enjoyed and appreciated a free luncheon with a delicious meal and entertainment, I enjoyed even more getting to know the women at my table.  I think within a few minutes after a round of introductions we all felt so comfortable with each other that it seemed like we had known each other for years.  A mixture of ages and races didn’t separate us.  It was like the “Sisterhood of the Traveling IV’s.”  We shared our stories with each other and had a common thread.  We could easily relate to each other and laughed at similar experiences.  We all agreed to come again next year and sit in that same area of the room to find each other.

I find this is true not just with strangers I meet that are cancer survivors, but even with acquaintances I already had.  Once I was diagnosed, I immediately sought out others that I knew who had been through a cancer diagnosis and treatment and felt a certain kinship that wasn’t there before.  I think this happens because until you receive a cancer diagnosis yourself, it’s hard to know exactly what that feels like.  For those of you who are fortunate enough to not have received a cancer diagnosis, you’re unfortunately not part of our club!

2 Corinthians 1:4  says, “He (God) comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us.” (The Message Version)  Hebrews 4:15 says, “ For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin.” (NIV)  We all need each other and it’s so important for us to encourage one another, especially when you can totally relate and understand what someone else is going through.

My hats (and hair) off to others in my cancer kinship club!  We will survive!