Despite so many recent advances in treatment, no one ever wants to hear of a cancer diagnosis, for a friend, a family member, or oneself. And while the focus is necessarily on health, there’s so much more to who we are. Style, for one, and dignity—two things cancer can steal right along with health. Enter Lisa Lurie, CEO of Cancer Be Glammed and breast cancer survivor, whose site was born out of her own struggle to recover her health while maintaining her dignity and sense of style.
She’s put together in one place fashion solutions, lifestyle savers, post-op necessities and great gifts for cancer patients and survivors, and she joined us in The Motherhood to discuss her work. Lisa was joined by a panel of guests, including Kimberly of Pretty Pink Momma, Dawn of MommaKiss, Andrea of Lil Kid Things, Felicia of Go Graham Go, and Robyn of Robyn’s Online World.
What Not to Wear
Lisa shared some ideas for clothing to stock up on for the post-operative period. Favorite comfy t-shirts may no longer fit the bill following a mastectomy, as it may be difficult or forbidden to lift your arms over your head. Lisa says, “Button-down clothing or sleepwear is essential because it is easy to take on and off particularly if lymph node surgery is involved.” Also recommended are clothes that are soft, made from a fabric like cotton, without rough seams that might rub and irritate skin. Lisa offers, “My personal favorite following surgery is a great button down night shirt… It’s easy to take on and off and to wear. Find one in a great color. Floral is big this year!” Many options for post-op wear are available through Cancer Be Glammed.
How You Look Affects How You Feel
Just because comfort is king doesn’t mean good looks have to get kicked out of the palace. Women with and without cancer know that when you feel bad, looking better gives you a boost. Color is encouraged – Lisa says that warm, monochromatic colors enhance skin tone, especially during treatment.
Also, accessories are “a cancer girl’s best friend;” use them to draw focus away from areas you want to minimize and toward areas you want to highlight. Think gorgeous earrings, belts, shoes and jackets. And while it may be tempting to hide your body under clothes that are a little too big, Lisa cautions against it: clothes that just skim your body are more flattering and will help you look and feel better. For newly diagnosed women, she offers the downloadable style guide, “What the Doctor Didn’t Order” to help prepare them for the common, non-medical side effects of surgery and treatment. Bonus: it contains an easy to use shopping checklist!
Gifts that Keep on Glamming
Several talk participants were interested in learning about good gifts to support family, friends, and acquaintances with cancer. Gifts of comfortable and attractive clothing, like the nightshirt Lisa mentioned, can be great for people we’re close to. Coolibar, a brand that is available through Cancer Be Glammed, offers clothing for those who need stylish sun protection. Skin care products can also be a good option, but Lisa cautions to stick to products made for people going through treatment, such as Lindi Skin, also available through her site.
For people we may not have a close, personal relationship with, we may be uncomfortable buying intimate items like skin care products or clothes. It’s easy to seem to withdraw from someone when you don’t know what to do for them, especially when it’s not someone you know terribly well – you don’t want to intrude. But you also don’t want to disappear.
Good gifts for acquaintances, or anyone, include gift cards for favorite stores or restaurants, or even dropping off a meal (especially one that can be frozen and reheated as needed). Lisa said an e-reader was her favorite gift: “You can send it yourself or as a group gift from family and friends. It is a welcome distraction during treatment and “bed” rest, the font can be enlarged for chemo tired eyes, you can purchase gift cards for books and magazines and it fits in a purse or chemo bag!” If your friend already has an e-reader, gift cards for books are a welcome present.
Another option, especially for patients who may not have a lot of family nearby to help, is to set up a schedule of helpers, cleaners, drivers, cooks – whatever is needed. Talk participant Maureen recommended Lotsa Helping Hands, a website that makes coordinating the effort easier. Sometimes (as anyone who’s ever had a baby remembers), the practical support is the most needed, and the hardest to ask for.
Thinking Pink (Or Not)
The conversation turned to that ubiquitous breast cancer color, of course. Many of us think pink in our zeal to show support for loved ones with breast cancer, but it may not be the best idea. Dawn of MommaKiss had a friend whose breast cancer was diagnosed in October, and she hated the color pink because “everywhere she turned, there was the reminder that she had breast cancer.”
Lisa says, “The color pink means different things to women going through cancer. That’s why I say it’s so personal. I am more low key as a person (I know that’s hard to believe), so I respect everyone’s choices.” The bottom line: don’t bombard someone you love with pink, unless you know she loves it and finds it meaningful in a positive way. Dawn and other participants particularly liked that Cancer Be Glammed offers a variety of colors, not just a sea of pink.
I hope the day comes soon when no woman has to go through cancer. But until it does, thanks to Lisa and Cancer Be Glammed, the women who do will go through it with support – and with style.