Thursday 27 Apr 2023
I found out I was pregnant for the first time in September 2020, but in December that year I suffered a miscarriage. My husband and I were devastated.
That month, I noticed changes to my breast; there was no lump but a prominent blue vein appeared.
I didn’t think it was anything sinister. But my husband encouraged me to get it checked, and luckily I did.
A couple of days after my scan, I was told to come to the hospital. The consultant sat me down and said ‘there’s no easy way to say this, but you’ve got cancer’. I was completely dumbfounded.
During treatment, I felt vulnerable, like my identity was stripped. I’d constantly be thinking about the tumour inside me.
Although I knew the cancer was contained at this time it didn’t stop me worrying it could be growing and spreading. My team told me that they’ll do everything they can but they couldn’t tell me that it would be okay.
I don’t like the word ‘journey’ because it’s not a journey, and it’s not something you fight either. You have no choice. Cancer was just days put together and you have to do your best to get through them.
I have my own business. I’m a beauty therapist and a makeup artist. I look at what I do as making people feel the best version of themselves. It's about your identity, self-care, being kind to yourself and for me, a form of mindfulness.
I needed chemotherapy, surgery and radiotherapy. Chemotherapy happened monthly. But it wasn’t like you get it done and you’ve then got three weeks to relax. I didn’t even have the concentration to watch telly; it was hard to string a sentence together.
On the days I could get out of bed, I’d give myself a pamper to help me still feel like me. I’d sketch my eyebrows on and apply small magnetic eyelashes. I didn’t want to look or feel different.
People might think that sounds superficial but it’s difficult to see someone in the mirror who doesn’t look like you.
I always had long waits on treatment days. One day, someone suggested that I go to Maggie’s, tucked away in the trees on the hospital grounds.
"Finding Maggie’s was a breath of fresh air. Coming in for the first time, it was like finding a wee sanctuary."
The hospital is overwhelming, it’s almost like a shopping centre. But this was peaceful, I felt like I was at a retreat. I didn’t feel like an ill person.
My husband and I sat on the sofa by the front door, looked at the greenery and we could forget where we were. Coming to Maggie’s made me feel prepared to get through treatment. I was able to stop my mind racing ahead. I could breathe.
I signed up to the stress management course, relaxation classes and yoga. These classes were integral to my recovery.
If someone asked me at Maggie’s how I was, I didn’t feel I had to hide how rubbish I truly felt, as I would sometimes do with my friends and family.
Stuart, a cancer support specialist, used the analogy that people often say they feel like they’ve been knocked down by a bus when they’re unwell. But people with cancer see the bus coming straight towards us.
We know we’re having treatment. We know the effects of treatment will accumulate, but being prepared doesn’t completely fix it. That really resonated with me and helped me understand why I found treatment so hard.
Having contact with a professional who totally understands what it's like is invaluable. The staff at Maggie’s are like angels on earth. I never feel like a victim or like they feel sorry for me. I'm still Laura in Maggie’s. I leave here feeling lighter.
Self-care - putting my makeup on, doing facials, applying a bright lipstick - was really important throughout my treatment.
Don’t get me wrong, there were some days when I felt horrific and couldn’t get out of bed. But when I could, it made me feel more in control. It was about making choices again after cancer rips away your autonomy.
Asking myself things like ‘am I going sparkly today?’ or ‘what colours do I want to put on my eyes?’ was a way of taking some control back.
During a class at Maggie's, one woman commented on my eyebrows and asked me how I drew them on. I sat with her after the class, gave her a wee facial, drew her eyebrows on and put some blusher on her skin. She felt amazing and had the biggest smile and sparkle in her eyes. I felt great being able to use my talents to make people feel better.
I want to give back to Maggie’s in this way and also help to give people their identity back.
I have my leaflets for my business ‘The Kind Face’ in Maggie's Glasgow. The centre head nominates someone now and again to visit me for a free beauty service or permanent eyebrow makeup.
Beauty isn’t just a superficial thing, it’s what gives people a spring in their step. It can truly be a therapy.
If you or someone you love has cancer, Maggie’s is here with you.
Last review: Jun 2023 | Next review: Jan 2024
To find your nearest Maggie's centre, enter your postcode or town below.
Stay up to date with our news and fundraising by signing up for our newsletter.Sign up