At the end of 2018, I discovered a large lump on my neck while I was working overseas. My doctor arranged for it to be biopsied once I returned to the country in February 2019, and those tests came back inconclusive. About eight months later, I still had the lump and I was feeling really run down, and my new GP ran some further tests and recommended that I get the lump biopsied again. The second time the tests showed that I had Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.
There was about six weeks between my diagnosis and staring treatment, and in between that there was a heap of other tests, a rushed round of IVF to collect some eggs, and turning 30. Going through treatment was difficult. It was the first time I had spent a lot of time as a patient in the health care system and there was a lot to navigate. The chemotherapy regime was tough, and I was spending a lot of time at home recovering from that.
I’d been told about the Look Good Feel Better program but it wasn’t something that I was sure I would get a lot out of. Looking back however, I think I was making excuses for myself - at the time I was still quite reluctant to identify as a cancer patient, and I felt like attending groups such as this would cement that I was one.
The workshop provided an opportunity to get out of the house for a day involving something that wasn’t a medical appointment. I learned a lot of practical things about skin care and cosmetics, and it was really helpful having someone there to provide practical information about wigs and headwear.
The facilitators were really experienced, and they knew the sorts of issues that everyone was facing with their appearance and life generally. Although it was with a group of other cancer patients, we weren’t treated like that was all we were.
I remember laughing a lot with the other workshop participants - before that, I don’t think that I had really connected with other people who were going through treatment and I really appreciated that. A handful of the other participants were also having treatment at the same hospital as I was, so it meant that there were now some familiar faces around which was nice. It was also just great being able to participate in something like this that wasn’t limited to a particular type of cancer or an age group.
I think that attending the Look Good Feel Better workshop put me in the right frame of mind to utilise other services available for people undergoing treatment or living with cancer. Before I did the workshop I was hesitant to attend other groups, because I was reluctant to identify as a cancer patient. Meeting the other participants and having a great time at the workshop gave me the confidence to seek out other support services which I think really benefited me during treatment and recovery.
Taking part in Dry July helps fund the Look Good Feel Better program, meaning more Australians undergoing cancer treatment can benefit from the same positive experiences I did. Thank you for your support.