Facing Cancer With Confidence
11 years ago, Claire Parker-Jewell’s life changed. It was they day she was diagnosed with cancer.
“In 2008, I found out that I had a form of cancer, but they didn’t know whether it was lung cancer or lymphoma.
“This was the day I realised how strong I was. It was the start of a long journey of tests, diagnostics and bone marrow examinations, resulting 12 chemotherapy sessions every other week and losing my hair, all while looking after my three-year-old son.”
At just 28 years-old, Claire was diagnosed with lymphoma and was devastated not only by the life-changing verdict, but also the challenging side-effects of treatment.
“I was diagnosed with lymphoma the size of a grapefruit in my chest, which had broken my breast bone. It was also found in my neck, chest nodes, arm pits, lungs and stomach.
“Hearing the words, “you have cancer”, is enough to rock you to the core, and just when you think you’ve come to terms with that reality, treatment begins.
“Feeling good about yourself during cancer treatment can be challenging, especially as your body goes through physical changes, some of which can dramatically change appearance and body image.
“One of these changes may be losing your hair, which at 28, was a huge blow. I immediately bought two wigs that were so real you wouldn’t have been able to tell, and I also bought 100’s of fake eyelashes. It was the little things like this made me feel normal.”
In September 2009, a year into remission, Claire’s life changed once again, with the arrival of her second son, Finn.
“I was told I wouldn’t be able to have any more children, which was so hard to take, but the cancer was spreading – fast, so we needed to start treatment.
“By a miracle, though, I fell pregnant six months after my last chemotherapy session and we were blessed with our son Finn, and three more children since.
“Even though it was a hard journey, I formed life-long friendships and made amazing memories that I will always cherish.
“None of us are certain of our future, so we need to love hard, fight hard and play hard, and make sure our loved ones know how special they are.
“Through cancer, I learnt that whatever life’s throws my way, I will fight with my every breath.”
In the face of adversity, the desire to look good remains. But this and the added stress of the appearance related side effects of treatment, can have dramatic consequences on confidence and self-esteem at a time when a positive attitude is very important.
“Look Good Feel Better (LGFB) is dedicated to improving the wellbeing of patients undergoing treatment for any sort of cancer and we provide extensive support for women, men and young adults.” Says Karen Holmes, Head of Care Services at Weston Park Cancer Information and Support Centre.
“Our two-hour sessions are enjoyable, morale boosting and informative and patients leave laughing, looking fantastic and ready to face the world again.”
Our LGFB sessions are held at Weston Park Cancer Information and Support Centre and are run by trained beauty volunteers who share their tips and techniques for minimising side-effects of cancer treatment, such as skin changes, hair, eyebrow and eyelash loss. You’ll also receive a complementary goody bag of beauty products.
“My wigs were my saviour, but they came at a hefty price, so it is fantastic to learn that sessions like LGFB are now being offered to patients, completely free of charge.” Says Claire.
“I am thankful for every second that someone was looking after me and for Weston Park Cancer Centre, who I can’t thank enough for all they did.
“Because of them, I am here today to tell my story and because of Weston Park Cancer Charity, more and more patients and their families will have access to the very best in cancer care services.”
Weston Park Cancer Information and Support Centre is run by healthcare professionals who are here to support anyone affected by cancer; patient, family or friend and offer a safe place for you to talk – about whatever is on your mind.
Please call: 0114 226 5666 to find out more about LGFB and to put your name on the waiting list or visit: http://www.cancersupportcentre.co.uk for more information about the support services we offer.