Continuing Karen’s cancering journey. Advice on how to continue to look and feel as good as possible.
The loss of my eyelashes and eyebrows was a big challenge which led me to find all sorts of resources and products. RevitaLash, a serum I applied to where my lashes used to be, seemed to help. I also used RevitaBrow (US link) recommendation by a ‘chemo-buddy’ who had good results.
It took more confidence to invest in magnetic false eyelashes from Lola’s Lashes. Applying the magnetized eyeliner took practice but it was worth it. The magnets at the base of the false eyelashes stuck brilliantly to the eyeliner which meant there was no glue involved. There are more modest options and full-on doll-eyes or mink eyelash styles, a wide range to suit all tastes. I opted for the more modest versions, for when I went out for dinner with Charlie. www.lolaslashes.co.uk. Other brands are available on Amazon to get you started. Sometimes I applied an eye pencil and forgot about the lack of lashes. As they began to grow again, I found a mascara from Lancôme, Le 8 Hypnôse Serum infused volumizing mascara (US link). “It is designed to condition lashes and add full-bodied volume”. A big investment but I decided to go for it.
Nail preservation and care is something I had not considered, yet damage to fingers and toenails is a chemo side effect for many. During my first 3 infusions, I developed a chalky line across my nails, like an ‘annual ring,’ signifying each dose of poison in my body. The final 3 infusions were of a different drug [Docetaxel], which can turn nails black and make them fall out. I was shocked to hear this. I already understood to abandon acetone-based nail products. I was also advised to use a dark colour to camouflage any changes. My favourite colour was Blueberry, from the Nailberry range of breathable, vegan, cruelty-free, nail polishes. Available at SpaceNK. The best nail product I found was recommended by another ‘chemo-buddy’. This was Polybalm, It was developed to protect nails during and after chemo. I found this to be superb in keeping my nails strong and healthy and recovering well. So many of my friends have applied this product to care for their nails, even though they don’t have cancer. I continue to use it and am relieved to have found this incredible concoction of waxes and oils, applied with a sponge. This meant I avoided any nail loss or even colour change. These things mattered when I was experiencing intense fatigue, painful side effects from the change to the mucosal linings of my body, changes in my gut and occasional despair. Feeling I had control of some things and could mitigate the onslaught was vital.
I continued to practice yoga, gently, and attended 2 Pilates classes each week, online. I was self-isolating to avoid infections and complications. The skilled, loving teachers tailored the exercises for me, depending on how I was feeling. I now know how important this was for the speed of my recovery beyond treatment and radiotherapy. My strength is returning, and I have more stamina. I am so grateful for this and glad that I kept going. I never bullied myself, I gently invited commitment.
I was already receiving acupuncture before my diagnosis and it felt right for me to continue. However, the use of needles was a stretch too far for me. My acupuncturist used a method called MOXA or moxibustion. This involved placing small clay cones on specific parts of my body in which a dried herb was burnt to warm them. Each pot was removed in a timely fashion as the warmth intensified. I experienced relief, ease and energy as a result. It worked for me as a complementary therapy.
Each one of us must find our own way. Life can be lonely, frightening and devastatingly shocking, even when we may be lucky to have those around us who love and care for us. I offer my loving guardians my heartfelt thanks. Precious people supported me in different ways. In the end, however, I was alone with the symptoms and fears in the dead of night. I believe it was important for me to find information, resources, and products to alleviate whatever I could.
As Sean Rowe says in his song ‘Gas Station Rose’:
“Well, maybe the mountain in our eyes
Looks more like a molehill from the other side.”
These words gave me hope. I’m on the other side now and want to stay here. I honour the present and step into the future with gratitude and optimism. I wish you well in navigating your well-being and hope you thrive. I know many do not.
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Karen has very kindly taken the time to reply to your wonderful comments on the previous blog. If you would like to read them click here.
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