Karen’s Cancer Journey Part II

Karens Cancer Journey

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. 

Please feel free to share this post with friends and family if you feel it is appropriate. 

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.

We seem to have created a very supportive community. Do keep sharing your experiences in the comment box.


  1. Barbara Brown
    5th April 2023 / 16:52

    My dear Karen , your blog brought tears to my eyes, it’s so truthful and moving. I’m 85 years now and I had breast cancer when I was 72yrs – after my mastectomy I went back to work, and I also went for a check up every year, right up until the pandemic.
    I wish you well, with many years to come.
    With love, Barbara x

    • Karen Carr
      6th April 2023 / 07:45

      Barbara, what a heartfelt, lovingly compassionate message. Thank you. You were resilient and you have thrived remarkably.

  2. Fran Russell
    5th April 2023 / 17:29

    Karen, thank you so much for your wonderfully positive attitude and awesome suggestions! I’m 75, and had a partial mastectomy and reconstruction, then just finished 4 rounds of Taxotere and Cytoxin (think it’s called something else in the UK) and start 6 weeks of daily radiation Monday. Hoping everything will go as well as yours! Oh, LOVE your Panama hat!

    • Karen Carr
      6th April 2023 / 07:48

      You are certainly in the middle of your treatment cycles, Fran. Wishing you a smooth and comfortable passage through your radiotherapy. Healing vibes by return. Thank you. The Panama rocks for sure, Karen

  3. Lynne Savage
    5th April 2023 / 23:24

    I am a 74 yo Australian woman who has not had breast cancer but I want to assure you that I feel sisterly solidarity with you from across the world. You are doing it your way and kicking it’s “bottom”.

    • Karen Carr
      6th April 2023 / 07:50

      Lynne, I appreciate your support and robust encouragement. My thanks are winging their way to Australia. Lovely.

  4. Linda Rodell
    6th April 2023 / 13:42

    Karen, as always your comments are inspirational, and a source of warmth and hope for us all. As a bowel cancer survivor,I agree you are so right in saying that everyone’s approach is different, there is no right or wrong, and giving yourself permission to define your own perspective on cancer is important. Thank you.

    • Karen Carr
      6th April 2023 / 18:41

      Linda, you affirm the very personal pathway that is the journey of ‘Cancering’. I celebrate your survival and thank you

  5. Kay
    7th April 2023 / 04:41

    Thank you Karen for a very positive, and inspiring take on your cancer journey. I was reluctant to read it at first, but I’m so glad I did. I think your approach from the beginning was amazing.

    • Karen Carr
      7th April 2023 / 07:34

      Kay, thank you for your honesty and acknowledgment. Hearing this impact makes the writing and sharing worthwhile.

  6. 7th April 2023 / 23:28

    Karen you a brave and special woman, I am glad to be part of your healing journey xxx

    • Karen Carr
      9th April 2023 / 17:56

      Thank you Hannah, your skills and compassion have been a healing gift to me

  7. Shirley Davey
    17th April 2023 / 07:35

    KAREN, you are so brave in your approach to cancer, I admire your courage in fighting this terrible illness. You have come through with flying colors and also with encouragement for others. I wish you well and hope you live the rest of your life doing everything you want to do. May God bless you and keep you in the palm of his hand.

  8. Francie
    24th April 2023 / 19:34

    You are so brave and beautiful! Sharing your experience and knowledge is a very generous act. Thank you and all good wishes to you.

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