When I was first diagnosed with breast cancer, back in 2005, the selection of products promising to help nurture and nourish my wellbeing were slim, at best.
I was a twenty six year old girl and beauty, make up and skin care were rather high up the priority list! When it came to the subject of hair loss, chemo skin, radiotherapy burn and nail care, I had always taken pride in my appearance and initially the idea of having to contend with wigs and headscarves didn’t phase me. After all, Kylie was doing it!
That was, until that second session of chemo, when my scalp felt so sore and my hairbrush looked like it had just been raked through Big Foot on a bad hair day! The discomfort was like nothing I had ever experienced before and so started the rather temporary but traumatic decline of my femininity, identity and general twenty something appearance!
Then I met Jennifer Young. While undergoing treatment for my third diagnosis, nine years later, I became aware of how much things were changing and how much more conscious healthcare workers were of the side effects on patients wellbeing and appearance, as well as those living beyond cancer.
Jennifer and I met through a mutual friend back in 2012, and after hearing her story and the background of the Defiant Beauty products, I was hooked. Seven years later, Jennifer Young and Beauty Despite Cancer have collaborated with Cancer Research UK in a pioneering new venture, making these natural and luxurious indulgent products even more accessible to cancer patients throughout the UK, as well as those living beyond treatment. The dry scalp treatment is a permanent gift for anyone I know now going through chemo and the itchy skin oil is brilliant!
Jennifer has worked so hard to promote this amazing skin care range and in addition, has developed accredited professional qualifications for spas and therapists. These qualifications are accredited by a number of internationally recognised professional bodies. The team deliver CPD courses for a number of organisations as well as delivering training to healthcare professionals. Last Summer, I had a wonderfully nurturing full body massage treatment in London. I felt so pampered and my skin felt nourished for days.
Jennifer Young products and services can be found in a number of UK hospitals, hospices and support centres. They were created with the help of those affected by cancer and their healthcare teams. Jennifer has a BSc (Hons) in Biology and is an experienced microbiologist, a nutritional therapist, an associate member of the Royal Society of Medicine, a qualified aromatherapist, beauty therapist and product formulator. She is a wonder woman, a superhero who, after being asked to create a specialist skincare and cosmetic range for those going through cancer treatment at her local hospital, discovered the harsh reality of the side effects of the drugs for patients skin. Jennifer recognised a demand for products that could help patients feel pampered and nurtured, without fear of adding more chemicals to the skin.
Cancer Research UK is the worlds leading cancer charity, priding itself on saving lives through research and pioneering work into prevention, diagnosis and treatment. Today, 2 in 4 people survive their cancer for at least 10 years. Cancer Research UK’s aim is to accelerate progress so that by 2034, 3 in 4 people will survive their cancer for at least 10 years. Cancer care, in general, has improved hugely over the last ten years. I can absolutely vouch for this after having had three breast cancer diagnosis within the last twelve years. When I speak to other patients and survivors who have had more recent experiences, I am encouraged that more is being done to support patients wider needs. Health and wellbeing are at the forefront of cancer care now with more of a focus being given to the broader concerns of younger patients in particular. It isn’t just older people who get cancer and a woman is still a woman despite cancer.
In 2015 I had the opportunity to speak alongside my own breast cancer consultant at The Royal Society of Medicine in London at a conference for medical professionals focusing on breast cancer in the young, the pregnant and with a family history.
The comfort I felt seeing and hearing a growing appreciation, from medical professionals, for a patients wellbeing during and after cancer treatment and the necessity of managing their broader needs, was huge. Holistic support through reflexology, acupuncture and reiki, emotional support and access to mental health professionals and counselling, physical care such as physiotherapy, fertility advice and services, wig specialists and dermatologists, as well as a continuity of care from specific cancer care nurses through and beyond cancer. The entire cancer support team illustrated through an enormous circular diagram all drawn around one smaller one, the patient, on a slide, lit by a projector on a big screen.
With the amazing work that charities like Cancer Research UK are doing, as well as pioneering health, wellbeing and beauty products like Beauty Despite Cancer, patients have an expanding wealth of services and support to tap into. A collaboration like this, for anyone going through or living with and beyond cancer, is game changing.
For someone like me, who has witnessed a constantly changing landscape of cancer treatment over the last twelve years, and knows, only too well, the complex and far reaching side effects of cancer treatment, it is a remarkable step forward for patients wellbeing. It will continue the crucial conversation between patients and healthcare professionals, and encourage, improve and develop the patients experience.
We can stop the search folks, we can still be, and feel, beautiful despite cancer.
Be careful what you say to yourself ..your brain is listening to it all!
That might sound a bit dramatic, but it really is true. When you vocalise negative thoughts about yourself, you’re giving them the power to grow and to nurture more negative self talk.
I have started this short blog with the above statement as it’s one of the statements I use most often with my clients. Even when we say negative things about ourselves as a joke, it still sinks into that sneaky little negative side of our brain to grow and fester into something much more harmful to our self esteem.
What is Body Positivity Anyway?!
Body Positivity is an often misunderstood term covering so many areas of our lives but I use it as an overarching term to describe my passion for guiding people through the wide variety of areas contributing to their self-esteem, self-perception and their ability to become the most authentic version of themselves.
It’s most definitely not just about size or clothes, but it is about acceptance of the real you and your individuality, particularly following big life changes such as serious illness, the menopause, childbirth or bereavement.
When you’re slipping down that rabbit hole of low mood as a result of a life change or a lifetime of negative reinforcement, it can seem too difficult to even begin to deal with the symptoms; so being prepared for such challenges empowers you to be able to retain control and move forward to a more positive place.
I am the eternal pragmatic optimist but don’t let that fool you! I haven’t led a life filled with flowers and champagne! I’ve worked very hard to change my own self perception and to tackle my own self esteem and now I coach and guide others to be able to make those changes for themselves.
I’m known as Mrs Positivity.. and for good reason!
I was once shocked by a friend’s comment to me soon after I split from my first husband in 2000. I had been separated for a few months and had recently met the man I have now been with for over 18 years – great news!
“I’m surprised you don’t have flat feet Jane: you land on them so often!”
Hmmm… interesting point of view and let’s be honest here: that hurt a lot at the time but I chose to ignore it and now I flip that comment in my head so I can see that this person was offering me a compliment by highlighting my ability to make the best of a negative situation.
I only use the above as an example of how other people’s perceptions of you can affect how you feel about yourself and how you can control your feelings every single day.
Like any challenging life event, you can’t always control the actual event or stop it from happening BUT you can control how you respond to it and how you move forward.
Below you will see my top 5 reasons why you’re making yourself miserable. You are responsible for your happiness and, by welcoming that responsibility you will feel free from stress and uncertainty by being able to tackle challenges as they arise.
You’re continually comparing yourself to others: One of my favourite sayings (developed by me!) is “There’s only one you so who are you comparing yourself with anyway”?! The continual comparisons with people you know or the apparently perfect beings on social media (!) will never result in you feeling great about you. Not only that but it’s such a waste of time. Instead of spending ANY time comparing – why not do something that makes you feel amazing – go for a run, read a book, write a story, have a cuppa with a friend (choose your most positive friend)
You buy clothes that don’t fit you or suit you: When I was young in the 1980’s, I would squeeze into the on trend mini skirts and drainpipe trousers which were uncomfortable and most definitely did not make the most of my body shape or personal style. These days, I do things differently and every day I encourage women to only fill their wardrobes with clothes that fit them and suit their individuality. It’s very difficult to be content with yourself when you’re wearing clothes that are too small because ‘you’re always a size 12 so why does this size 12 top feel so tight?!’
You keep trying to ‘fit in’: You get into the habit of side-lining your own needs and personality traits in favour of pleasing others and fitting in with others’ expectations of you. Many times, you’re not even aware that you’re doing it. The result of this is that you are never content with the person you see in the mirror every day. Wherever you go and whoever you try to be – the real you will ALWAYS be there waiting to be invited back – Try letting her in and see what happens.
You apologise all the time: All you people pleasers out there – This is for you. I bet you apologise when someone spills a drink on you. I bet you apologise when someone steps on your toe and I bet you apologise when someone lets you down? – It’s lovely that you care about others’ feelings but by apologising for no valid reason, you are giving others permission to de value your needs and telling yourself that you are not worthy. (I refer you back to the statement at the beginning of this blog).
Try to just take a second to breath in before that apology slips out – If it’s appropriate for you to apologise then your logical mind will help you out but if you jump in too quickly, that emotional side of you may send you down the wrong path.
You keep dieting in an unhealthy way: When you starve yourself or eat in an unhealthy way, your brain quite simply cannot function properly and your sense of happiness and reason are hugely diminished. I have worked with people with anorexia and in many cases they were so malnourished there was no ability to even begin to build a new self esteem until nutrition was addressed. This applies to both under and overeating for different reasons but the key message is that diets are destructive and healthy eating is a lifestyle. (and this is nothing to do with weight, size or body shape). If you get this right you’re half way to sorting your self esteem.
I recently considered the reframing of negativity that I’ve experienced over the years. From teen days until my 40s, I experienced a lot of less than positive comments regarding how people (mainly girls/women) perceived me.
“You talk too much” “You’re a bit much for me”
“You’re selfish” “You’re just lucky” “You’re not as nice as: (insert name here)”BUT…
I was surrounding myself with women who didn’t support or value me
I was surrounding myself with women who didn’t ‘get me’
I was surrounding myself with women who had made assumptionsabout me
I was surrounding myself with women who used me to make themselvesfeel better
Don’t get me wrong – I take my share of responsibility for that!
I allowed those women to treat me like that
I made assumptions about myself! and didn’t get to know myself wellenough
I didn’t respect my own needs and feelings
I wasn’t allowing others to see the real me
Importantly! I didn’t realise that not everyone is going to like me!
and that’s ok.
It’s so important to find your clan – find your tribe – find the ones who like/love you for you and like/love you BECAUSE of your quirks, not despite them.
So let’s consider the reframe of those comments because I know the truth about me just as you do about you. I’m in charge of my own perception and you’re in charge of yours! This reframe still feels challenging as we’re taught not to ‘big ourselves up’ and not to be self indulgent but, think of this as your personal CV.
Sell your fabulousness (is that a word?!) and let’s see you shine.
Here’s my reframe to get my CV started … Read it then have a go at yours…
“You talk too much”
I learnt a long time ago that I needed to be chatty to make friends as I was always the new girl at school. I’m now a sociable adult (although perhaps a bit of an early discloser!) and my true friends love the energy I bring to an event.
“You’re a bit much for me” I try very hard to be my best self for those around me to ensure they feel at ease. I am passionate about many things and yes! I’m loud but my natural empathy makes me easy to talk to about literally anything – If that’s not your thing then I understand and can recommend loads of fabulous associates and friends who will be more in keeping with what you need.
Looking after myself is most emphatically NOT selfish – It’s not possible to be a supportive friend, mother, daughter, wife if you don’t look after your own needs first
“You’re just lucky”
I personally don’t believe in luck but regardless; in my case, I have created all the good in my life by accepting help, taking risks, educating myself, surrounding myself with good people, removing negativity and not staying down when I fall. If that’s lucky then ok! I’m just lucky.
“You’re not as nice as …..” Hmmm… this is a difficult one as it feels so personal – In reality, what the person should have said was “You’re nothing like …” and I’d have to agree
because I’m unique and there’s no-one like me! – thanks for noticing
So…My 3 reframing tips are:
1. DoyourownpersonalCV–it’snoteasytoblowyourowntrumpetbuttake this as permission from me to do so. (You are amazingly you and no-one should bring you down)
2. Neverbeafraidtoremovenegativepeoplefromyourlife!Youdeservetobe understood for who you really are.
3. Ifnegativityisrollingaroundthatlargestoragespaceinyourbrainthenwrite it down and reframe it based on the facts of who you are.
I think you get the gist of what I’m all about and what to expect from me so if you want to hop onto a free discovery call to see what changes you can make then email me on: firstname.lastname@example.org or go old school and call me on: 07944 811939
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Follow me on Instagram: @therealbodypositivitycoach Jane x