As part of our collaboration with Breast Cancer Care, blogger and breast cancer survivor Leanne tells us how she regained confidence after treatment.
For the 18th year, ELEMIS is proud to support Breast Cancer Care through the donation of £25,000 and the launch of our limited edition pink Pro-Collagen Rose Cleansing Balm. And to spread awareness and highlight the amazing work they do, we’re sharing the story of Leanne Pero, an influential business woman, blogger and dance entrepreneur and who was given the all clear in 2017.
“I was told not to worry because I was so young”
I was diagnosed with breast cancer a few days before my 31st birthday. I found a lump, which everyone told me not to worry about because I was so young, but my mum has had breast cancer twice, so I knew I needed to get it checked. I went for an appointment with the consultant who worked with my mum and took my best friend and my brother along as I didn't think it would be serious. When she said that they’d discovered cancer, I couldn't believe it. Six months earlier I had been in the same room with my mum, being told about her treatment plan and now I was hearing my own options. It was a lot to absorb and I walked out flabbergasted. In the next couple of weeks, I underwent more scans and tests. Waiting for all of it was so nerve-wracking, I started suffering from anxiety and panic attacks.
“I thought, 'How am I going to be a woman again?’”
I started chemotherapy exactly a month after my diagnosis. You expect the worse with chemotherapy. It was tough. The treatment robbed me of all the things that made me feel like a woman: my period stopped, my hair fell out, even my eyelashes and eyebrows went. I also had a bilateral mastectomy and reconstruction on both of my breasts. It was very difficult losing all these things at the same time. I thought, 'How am I going to be a woman again? Who's going to want me?'
Slowly, I started to experiment with my appearance. I bought wigs, wore different makeup and tried out lots of different looks. People told me I looked good without any hair, but I wanted to wear wigs. I tried to bring a bit of fun into my treatment and now I'm a pro at putting on false eyelashes!
Now, I don't look back on chemotherapy as a negative experience. Every time I went for an appointment, I was getting better.
“Blogging helped me discuss body image”
I made a friend during my chemotherapy treatment who had very low self-esteem. When she was diagnosed with cancer, it shattered the little confidence that she did have. I was lucky as I was comfortable with myself before I started the chemotherapy, but after breast cancer, sometimes I looked in the mirror and felt horrified. If I felt that way, how did women with less confidence feel?
Something that helped me with my confidence was writing blogs. I started to share my experience and I was determined not to sugar-coat anything. I had people reach out and thank me for being so honest with it all. My blogs also helped start some important conversations about body image. Writing about my physical changes and how I was feeling created a discussion about the pressures put on women to look and act a certain way. It's something that you really feel when you're dealing with breast cancer, and still affects you when you're trying to move forward from your treatment.
“I decided to stop worrying”
It's common to struggle with your confidence after breast cancer. I've had to come to terms with the fact that my body will never be the same again, but the minute I decided to stop worrying about how my body was changing, the better I felt about myself.
You can now show your support for those affected by breast cancer by adding a £1 donation to Breast Cancer Care at checkout when you purchase any item on www.elemis.com
Not sure how to check your breasts? Have a look at this simple guide.