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Fros, Fashions & Finds

By Megan Davis
Soulcial Scene Contributor

When women are diagnosed with breast cancer, many thoughts come across their minds.

“Will I beat this?” “Will I lose my breasts?” Or “What will my family do when I am gone?”.

Cancer, for most people, is a terminal illness, but there are also women who give cancer the boot and go on to live fulfilling lives. Still, the uncertainty that accompanies the journey from discovery, to diagnosis, to recovery is unpredictable.

Chris Tia-Donaldson, CEO of Thank God It’s Natural (TGIN) products, said that the stigma that comes with breast cancer is that it will “compromise my femininity, my sexuality, my physicality, and that I would have ‘chemo brain.’  I felt like I was losing who I was.” Donaldson, who has recently triumphed over cancer, is using her experience to inspire others living with breast cancer.

Robin Roberts

Chris Tia-Donaldson

There are many stories about women who overcome the cancer demon with a fight in them that they may have never known they had. We hear and read about the struggles of making decisions for treatment as well as the constant fatigue, aching and sickness women feel while undergoing the treatments. But we rarely hear about the struggle to find beauty in the midst of the beast that tries to devour the mind, body and spirit.

The idea of being and feeling beautiful during the stages of cancer treatments don’t often hit a woman until she sees notable changes in her appearance. Depending on the stage of cancer, her breasts may shrink or be severely bruised; she may have scars from surgery; her eyes may be sunken due to fatigue and her hair may be falling out. Experiencing hair loss seems to be one of those times where the idea of feeling beautiful slaps you right in the face. There are women who try to hold onto their hair, and those who are in shock, seeing clumps of hair just fall right off their scalp; and there are those who say, “I am not my hair” as in the India.Arie song, and they shave it all off. No matter the reaction to losing their hair, it can happen and the frustration with trying to remain feminine and pretty can be an uphill battle while already in the fight.

Robin Roberts, an ABC Good Morning America anchor, was victorious over breast cancer. She wore wigs on camera after having lost her hair. But at a charity fashion show one evening, she decided to ditch her wig and walk the runway bald and bold! Everyone remarked at how amazing she looked. That bold move gave her the courage to be proud of who she was, no matter what illness may have attacked her body. Roberts stated that “Being optimistic is like a muscle. It grows stronger with use. I have always been optimistic.” With that statement, one can conclude that being free from cancer means being free in her mind first. As many grab a hold of their faith during the battle, a proverb comes to mind:  “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.”

As many women as we have seen in the public eye, who have fought the good fight and won, there are many who are living their everyday lives, still trying to find the ray of light, the silver lining and the beauty amidst the ashes. These everyday women don’t have makeup artists at their disposal or money to buy human hair wigs; many of the women who have breast cancer are in the low-income class or have very few resources to pay for treatments, not to mention the lack of paid time off. So finding ways to be beautiful on a budget can be depressing.

There are some things that women who are on their journey with cancer can do that can help boost confidence. Below is a list of supports to help women rediscover their inner beauty, so that it can manifest itself on the outward in time.

What’s in the bottle? Be mindful of not only what you eat, but what you put on your hair/scalp. The skin of a person undergoing chemotherapy and radiation treatments is delicate and can be dry. Try to avoid harsh cleansers like detergents (sodium lauryl sulfate) and alcohol which may strip the skin of its natural oils. You may also wish to avoid artificial fragrances or perfumes, this may cause skin and scalp irritation.

Using essential oils. Use caution when applying essential oils. Due to their being in their natural form, they are concentrated and can burn the skin or scalp if applied alone. To apply essential oils to the body or scalp for re-growth treatments, use a carrier oil such as almond oil or grape seed oil to blend with the essential oil. This reduces the risk of skin damage.

Petroleum jelly and mineral oil. This is an old, tried and true remedy for dry skin from the good old days. But today, the use of products containing petroleum jelly and mineral oil are harmful for the skin. The thick texture of Vaseline may clog pores and prevent the skin from truly being moisturized from the inside out. It blocks moisture as a matter of fact. Mineral oil is found in many hair care products that cannot penetrate the scalp and assist with moisturizing the scalp or hair. It will sit on the scalp like a film instead.

Formaldehyde. This ingredient is found in many hair products, including Brazilian blowouts and some hair smoothing treatments. Avoid things like this which may also read as Sodium Hydroxymethylglycinate, DMDM hydantoin, and Diazolidinyl Urea.


Dos and Don’ts

Do still cleanse your scalp gently with something that is fragrance and color free such as Dr. Bronner’s castille soap for babies.

Do massage your scalp. It’s not only soothing, but it does stimulate blood flow so that hair can grow.

Don’t neglect your scalp. While it may not have any hair on it, it still needs TLC under wigs and head wraps.


Accessorize it!

There are many ways to highlight your beauty without having hair. Try some of the following ideas to adorn your crown as you go through the process of restoring your health.

Hats, hats and more hats! With winter on its way, knitted hats of all sizes and colors are available now in local stores. Beanies, berets, skull caps, and every fuzzy ball caps are available for reasonable prices. There are also great fedoras, newsboys and crocheted Tams that can be worn with or without wigs.

Head wraps also come in a variety of fabrics, textures and lengths. You can even take an old pair of leggings and repurpose them as a head tie. Stores such as Joann’s and Walmart carry fabric ranging from $1 to $15 per yard. The possibilities are endless. You may also find lightweight scarves that are often used as clothing accessories, to be perfect to accessorize your head.


Tips for maintaining a bald head.

      You can still use conditioner with the shampoo. It softens the scalp and allows the hair to grow back in healthy.

      Protect your scalp from the sun and wind. Use head coverings such as hats and head wraps to protect your hair.

      The best time to shave it is right after a shower, when the hair is softened.

      Use aloe vera gel instead of shaving cream. It has no chemicals or preservatives and is gentle on the scalp.

      Shave in the direction of growth! Going against the grain may cause ingrown hairs.

Wigs and Weaves. Many women will wear wigs while going through cancer treatments. They give an immediate boost of confidence and makes pretty happen quickly. While it may feel good to just slap on old “Carol” or whatever name you may give your wigs, take care as to not do  anything that can scar the scalp. Also:

      Find a wig that is close to your hair color, so it looks natural, unless you are into bold and colorful.

      Choose a wig that feels natural to the touch.

      Be mindful if it can be styled with heat. There are many non-human hair wigs that can be heat styled these days.

      Try a human hair wig if you have the budget for it. It can be treated like your own hair.

      Ask a stylist to customize a wig for you. It may be costly, but it will fit your own head and be cut and styled to suit you.

      If you are low on money, try organizations like Transform My Beauty  to see if they offer free wigs for women undergoing cancer treatments. The owner of Transform My Beauty is a Toledo, Ohio native and cancer survivor who creates custom wigs as well as donates them to women with cancer. To learn more, visit transformybeauty.com and click on the “Free Wigs” link.

Finally, feeling beautiful while fighting such an ugly disease is possible. Sometimes just putting on a little lip gloss and a pair of earrings can change a woman’s mood, any woman, who isn’t feeling at her best. No matter the changes the body faces during illness, many have learned to accept the things they cannot change, and take things one day and one step at a time. For Robin Roberts and Chris Tia-Donaldson, they have also learned to take life’s lemons and make lemonade as they remain at the top of their game as public personalities.


Copyright © 2017 by [The Sojourner's Truth]. All rights reserved.
Revised: 08/16/18 14:12:37 -0700.



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