Ugh, chemotherapy can be bloody tough going, I know because I did sixteen rounds. While it was tough I don’t begrudge it as I wanted to do everything to give me a shot at extra years in the game of life. Chemo comes with plenty of side effects, you may get some or all. Either way, I’ve got some tips to help you look and feel better and get you through because, you know…I’ve been there.
My hair is short, fine and thanks to chemotherapy it’s now very grey. I don’t have much but I’m freakin grateful for every single strand, even the grey ones. Cancer and chemotherapy changed me and my hair forever but touch wood, cross your fingers, blow on a feather…I’ve got plenty more years left.
While I chose to take control and shave my hair (read about it here) some will choose to hang onto their hair for as long as possible. If that’s you then wash infrequently, try using a dry shampoo to stretch out the time in between washes. Pat hair instead of rubbing when drying and take it easy with heated styling tools.
A silk pillowcase isn’t only handy for preventing wrinkles but also extremely kind to fine or thinning hair. I used a silk pillowcase even when I was bald as I found cotton cases painful when they rubbed on my tender scalp, the silk was by far kinder. I was recently sent * these very grown up and stylish silk pillowcases from the good people at SHHH Silk, now these beauties or a silk sleeping cap would make a beautiful gift and will surely make a gal feel good.
Another tip that I chose to implement was saving the dollars I would have spent on hairdressing appointments and spending it on something special just for me. After every chemo session I made a little visit to MIMCO for sparkly earrings ? it doesn’t need to be extravagant, just choose something that will make you smile.
Chemo also added thirty six kilograms to my frame, well those bloody steroids had me enjoying way too much cake! When my jaw and mouth were sore I just had to eat whatever I needed to get me through and sometimes those meals were more about comfort eating and less about nutrition. In the moment I did what I could to get through but in hindsight I could have paid more attention to good nutrition.
During radiotherapy we had home delivered meals cooked by a healthy chef, I probably should have looked into these meals earlier. Friends and family will want to help out and cooking is one way they can, take them up on the offer and don’t be afraid to speak up and ask for specific meals. Balance out the comfort meals with a few healthier options, remember the more good you put in the better chance you give your body to recover and heal.
Don’t forget home delivered fruit and veg, there’s lots of options now available including organic produce. Oh, and dark chocolate works wonders to help mask ‘chemo mouth’, a hideous metallic taste in the mouth thanks to chemo. I felt absolutely no guilt about purchasing a bag of my favourite Haighs chocolates regularly ?
Chemotherapy and all the associated drugs can play havoc on the skin, it can be fragile, dry, prone to rashes and very sun sensitive. Choose high quality sunscreen and cover up when in the sun. You can read my suncare tips here.
A quality restorative and nourishing skincare routine will go a long way to keeping skin supple. I preferred to keep everything organic and slathered in KOSMEA Rose Hip oil twice daily.
Soaps can be harsh, if your skin is sensitive use a soap free body wash and look at a milder washing powder for your clothes. A gift pack of assorted goodies from ECOSTORE could be a wonderful group gift if you know someone undergoing chemotherapy.
When you feel shit you don’t wanna look shit too, if I got dressed I just felt better. Shopping isn’t always fun or easy when going through treatment and that’s when I hit up online stores like HERE, HERE and HERE to pick up stylish threads and get some retail therapy.
Loose clothing that’s not restrictive and can see you through any weight gain or loss will be your best option. Get creative with scarves, jewellery and colour to lift a simple outfit and put a smile on your dial.
When your hair AND lashes go it can be a double blow to a woman’s self esteem and confidence, book yourself into a Look Good Feel Better workshop to receive some girly pampering and much needed advice on skincare and makeup tips.
Even though I had no eyebrows or lashes I learnt some great makeup tips to give the illusion I had some. Don’t forget makeup counters, I made great friends with the girls at MAC and to this day pop in for a friendly smile and advice.
My nurses recommend I wear a very dark (like black) nail polish, this protects the nail bed from sunlight and helps prevent nails falling off. Try a nail polish without the nasty ingredients like Butter Polish. I still lost some of my toe nails and these are now permanently damaged but my fingernails were spared. Thanks nurses for the tip ?
You may even like to take yourself off for a gentle facial or another favourite beauty treatment. Be careful with manicures, a cut cuticle can be a portal for infection, something you don’t want. Make sure your nail technician uses fresh and clean tools.
Look, chemo is no laughing matter and at times it really sux, but it doesn’t need to be awful every day. Implementing a few (or a lot) of these tips will make you look and feel better. When you feel like you don’t have much control over your health, taking control of your beauty and style can be the difference between a shit day and a great day.
If you know someone going through chemo you might like to share these tips with them, it just might make their day better.
til next time,
*item sent to me for editorial consideration in accordance with my disclosure policy.