Lynsey’s body image tips: hair, skin and weight gain
Lynsey was diagnosed with breast cancer at just 24 years old and went on to have several rounds of chemotherapy and radiotherapy. The treatment left her with various side effects, including having an impact on her body image.
Here, Lynsey shares what changes she went through after treatment and what she did to help her feel her best.
When I first started chemo, there were pages and pages of advice about looking after your hair, looking after your skin, what to eat and especially what not to do. I found that after 11 weeks of Paclitaxel (a type of chemotherapy) I could find nothing on what happened post-chemo.
Here are the things I went on to learn about helping to look after myself post-chemo that I would like to share with you…
I was fortunate enough to have the cold cap. I lost about 40% of my hair and found that when I finished chemo, that was when the most of it fell out. I remember frantically googling how long it would take for the fall out to stop post-chemo and what to do to look after it. I could find nothing.
I found with shampoos, ones that were super gentle were the best during chemo, but post-chemo I wanted something that would help get my hair back to normal. A lot of shampoos advertise that they will ‘regrow your hair’. Please do not believe these shampoos. No shampoo can regrow hair. So, I started to look at celebrities that endorsed anti-thinning shampoos and came across one celebrity who suffers from alopecia. She turned me toward Nioxin, which helps to keep your scalp clean, strengthens the roots so that the hair is less likely to fall out. I found this brand very affordable and it has helped limit fallout. I also bought a satin pillow which helps reduce hair fallout and is nicer on your skin. There are many blogs out there that recommend a silk pillow but they cost 3x the amount and satin pillows have the exact same benefits.
For my eyelashes and eyebrows, I bought Revitalash. Revitalash is an eyebrow and eyelash serum which helps encourage growth. It is one of the best on the market and was designed by a doctor whose wife had breast cancer. I splashed out as it is very expensive and to be quite honest it was worth the money. My eyelashes were back in weeks and longer than ever. There are however, a few others on the market that have really good recommendations and are more affordable such as rapid lash. I didn’t use much on my eyebrows because I could draw them on. I used an eyebrow gel to fill them in and darken them out which helped sustain me as they started to grow back patchy. There is also an AMAZING range for fake eye-lashes in Eyelure called ‘C-lash’ which was designed for cancer patients.
Post-chemo I also found that I was breaking out. It looked similar to a rash on my face but I couldn’t get rid of it. The doctors didn’t really know what to do with it and in the grand scheme of things, it was a very small issue for them. Whereas, to someone who had lost a lot of hair, all their eyelashes, eyebrows and to then also have a rash on my face, I was not happy. I eventually went on a long research project to find out what I could do to look after my skin and hair and just get back to being healthy.
For my skin, it is tricky as everyone has different skin types but I used daily CeraVe gentle foaming cleanser, which was kind enough on my very sensitive skin. To help tackle the spots, I bought niacinamide which helps reduces the look of pores, shine, congestion & dermal impurity. You can use it in the morning or in the evening but I found it reduced the spots on my face. Along with it I had a simple daily moisturiser and factor 50 SPF to help make sure my skin didn’t burn.
I gained a lot of weight during chemo, which was also really hard for me. It was water retention and I just needed to remind myself that it would go. A few months later I was back to almost my normal self. Exercising a few days a week and healthy eating helped this a lot as it was sometimes hard to eat properly when I was so tired.
These are just a few tips and tricks that I found helped me post-chemo. You may feel the urgency to try and get back to normal as quickly as possible and are willing to spend anything to do it. Remember you have been through a lot so there is no rush, give yourself time. Also, hopefully these tips help make sure you don’t pay out lots too!
These are Lynsey's tips based on her own experience - they might be helpful for you too, or something else might work better. The products Lynsey mentions are not endorsed by Young Lives vs Cancer.