“I realised I wasn’t going through cancer alone”
For Jill Solomon, the hardest part of her cancer diagnosis was what to say to family and friends and in particular her three school-age sons.
“Having to tell them was a touchy moment. They are 15, 13 and 10. Because it was breast cancer, they didn’t want to know too much,” she says. “I decided I had to keep it quite factual, and ensure life did not change too much for them.”
Jill was able to work through much of her months of treatment, that involved a partial mastectomy, chemotherapy and radiation.
“Work was something to keep my brain from dwelling on what was going on for me on the health front,” says the 49-year-old. “I focused on finishing treatment and having a happy family Christmas, then on Boxing Day I booked a Look Good Feel Better class and went in February.
“I was coming to the end of my chemotherapy treatment and I started to think ‘what is the new me going to look like?’. I had an aunty who had been through Look Good Feel Better, and she said it was an amazing day.
“I just needed that boost, that kick start to push forward to accept how I was now. It was a real pick me up at the end of treatment, my hair had just started growing back and I wasn’t wearing a wig anymore. Before I had cancer, I had shoulder-length brunette hair.”
The class, free to anyone undergoing any cancer treatment at any stage, was exactly what Jill needed.
“It is a great chance to get together with other people who are in a similar situation to you. You might be feeling completely alone and like the only one going through this but you are in a room with women who have had similar journeys and you go ‘ok, I am not alone here’.
“It is a safe place to hang out for a couple of hours - you feel safe being vulnerable with other people who are going through or have been going through it, they understand the challenges that you face – such as having no eyelashes or eyebrows. I use the tricks I learned now, and I am using the products, says Jill, who has been married to Mark for 18 years.
“You can feel alone but cancer affects all sexes, all ages, all races. I thoroughly recommend going to a class, you won’t feel alone anymore.”