It’s never too late!
Whoever thinks it's just hair that breast cancer strips from you, is sadly mistaken. Before January 2016, I was one of those people. It felt like one day I was excited about leveling up to the next size of rollers to curl my shoulder-length locs, and the next, I was frantically discarding what seemed like thousands of hair products and loc adornments because I was depressed about losing my hair from chemo.
After the initial shock of my stage 2 breast cancer diagnosis, I resolved to #SLAYCancer. It may sound shallow to some, but keeping up with my beauty regimen and stylish dressing was important to me. Cancer may not be a choice, but having a sense of style and keeping up with your beauty routine is.
My plan was to buy different wigs and/or scarves and keep it moving. As time progressed however, I noticed some unexpected changes to my body. My beauty regimen quickly changed and boy, was it a shock!
NO HAIR, DON’T CARE
About two weeks into chemo treatment, I organized a "Cut It" party—a beauty makeover experience where my friends, family and Sorors gathered to see me transition from full locs to a beautiful baldie. Some friends even displayed solidarity with me by shaving/cutting their own hair!
I wanted to take the power away from chemo and make the upcoming drastic hair change on my own terms. Once my hair started falling out a few days later, I went to a barber and shaved my head clean. Then I rocked printed scarves, bought some wigs and even created a clothing line where hats were one of my first sellers.
BYE BYE BROWS AND LASHES
When my eyebrows and eyelashes began to disappear, the whole "I have cancer" thing became real. I learned makeup techniques that can hide the loss of eyebrows and can give the appearance of eyelashes. I would draw them on with a pencil, fill in with a powder and stiff angle brush, then kept them in place with clear gel.
As for my lashes, using mascara was a thing of the past. I used gel liner or powder shadow close to my lash line for definition. Or if I were going out, I would put on a quick lash strip for a bolder look.
I had absolutely no idea that finger and toenails would be affected while undergoing chemotherapy. Mine became black and extremely fragile. I rocked dark polish to protect my nails from the photosensitive reactions to chemo. The skin around my nail bed became extremely sensitive, so I gave my manicurist strict instructions to push the cuticles back instead of cutting them.
Also, I could no longer use gel polish (*sigh*) since those materials can trap bacteria under my nails, which in turn may cause infection.
MY DRY SKIN SAVIOR
*Pours coconut oil over entire life*
Chemotherapy treatments can be extremely harsh on the skin. In general, skin can become compromised which means dryness, thinness and/or discoloration. Keeping skin as moist as possible during treatment is important to keep it looking young and healthy. It is also equally important to avoid exposure to chemicals.
Regardless of my circumstance, physical state or lifestyle change, I discovered how to project self-assurance and courage through the way I dressed and my new and improved beauty regimen. I came to the realization that SLAYING is a significant part of who I am and I would be cheating myself (and others) by submerging into my illness.
Nine months after diagnosis, I am proud to say that I am a CANCER SURVIVOR.
This post originally appeared on essence.com: How I Adjusted and Slayed My Beauty Routine While Fighting Breast CancerOther Essence stories you might be into: