Saturday, 29 March 2014

I am a Makeup Artist!

As of yesterday (Friday 28th March 2014) I am now a qualified makeup artist!

For the past 5 weeks I have been attending a course at Davinia Fermi's Makeup Academy (DFMA) at Stanmer House in Brighton and I can honestly say it has been the best 5 weeks ever! The course I enrolled on at the end of February was the 'TV, Film and Theatre Makeup and Hair' course. It was a 5 week intense course covering a vast amount of information and practical work. One day we'd be learning how to create a flawless face and beautiful big smokey eyes, the next we'd be learning special effects makeup - bruising and burns, then we'd be learning how to do a one length cut. There was so much to learn and I really enjoyed it.

There were 6 of us in total on the course which I think was a perfect number as we weren't too crowded at our makeup stations. The girls were all so lovely and we were taught by Lisa, Jane and AJ who are all working makeup artists. You could tell that all three of them really love what they do! We also had Monica helping us out which was wonderful and I can't imagine doing the course without her! Monica had done the Fashion course with DFMA and was on our course as an intern and an extra pair of hands! She was so lovely and so helpful and I think having her on the course was the best thing DFMA could have done! Definitely an added bonus!

Special effects makeup, like that on the left was probably my favourite to learn. This was the day we learned how to do burns, which you see on TV programmes such as Holby City and Casualty. The final look is incredibly realistic and effective and is achieved by using only a handful of products. It was a really interesting process and I really enjoyed it, it was definitely my favourite day and I can't wait to recreate some of these burns using all the techniques we were taught!

We also learnt how to make and apply bald caps, how to make scars using special effects, how to make a moustache from scratch, (which involved hooking and tying one strand of hair at a time onto a piece of lace, over a template.. a very long process!)

We did several different hair styling techniques including a barrel curl, which is what I went on to do for my final photo shoot and we covered rollers and how to do period hair like that in the Victorian and Edwardian period. My younger sister was the only one in the house with long enough hair to practise on, so she became my little test model when I was preparing my chosen look for my 'finals' shoot.

I had such an incredible time at DFMA and learnt so much! I can't wait to get my final photos back from the photo shoot we had on our last day with Roger Charles photography. 5 weeks went by so quickly, I really wish it was longer but I'm so excited at the thought of a new start and a new journey as a makeup artist!

For more information on this course and all the other courses offered by DFMA, you can visit their site by clicking *here!* There are currently makeup academies based in Brighton, London and Bournemouth.

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Sunday, 23 March 2014

Macmillan Cancer Support - Chris Kiff & His Onesies!

Chris Kiff is a manager at The Nags Head, a pub in Aberystwyth. (Aberystwyth was where I was attending Uni before I was diagnosed and is where I'll be heading back to in September to start my final year!) Chris decided at the beginning of the year that he was going to be raising money for Macmillan Cancer Support, but he didn't want to do it in the traditional way. SO he has decided that for the whole year he will be wearing nothing but onesies to raise money for Macmillan up until the 12th January 2015!
Chris's onesie approach to fundraising has generated a lot of press interest, including interest from ITV which you can read about by clicking *here!* Because of this interest, Chris has been receiving onesies from people all over the world, who are encouraging and supporting him in his fundraising, which is amazing!

Macmillan Cancer Support - 'One in three of us will get cancer and it's the toughest thing most of us will ever face. If you've been diagnosed with cancer, or a loved one has, you'll want a team of people in your corner, supporting you every step of the way.

We provide practical, medical and financial support and push for better cancer care. We are Macmillan Cancer Support.

The number of people with cancer is growing every day. We want to reach and improve the lives of every one of those people.' 

Macmillan do an incredible job of supporting those affected by cancer, not only the patients themselves, but also the family who are also affected by the diagnosis, it is easy to see why Chris has chosen to support such a worthy charity.

If you would like to sponsor Chris in his fundraising onesie mission, then you can do so by visiting his Just Giving page **here!** So far Chris has managed to raise just over £1,800 which is an amazing achievement!

10th May is Onesie Wearing Day!
Chris has set this date for anyone who wants to take part. When the 10th May comes, wherever you are in the world pop on your onesie for the whole day and take a picture to show Chris your support! You can then post it on The Nags Head facebook page, which you can also 'like' to keep up to date with Chris's fundraising! *The Nags Head Facebook Page*

I wish Chris the best of luck! Hopefully you can join me in donating to his Just Giving page and showing him the support he needs to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support!

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Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Race For Life - Update!

At the beginning of February I posted about doing Race for Life a women only charity run, raising money for Cancer Research. My event isn't until the 8th of June, but I just wanted to say a massive thank you to all those who have sponsored me already on my online page, it's just hit £560.00 which is absolutely incredible and I am so thankful to everyone who has kindly donated!

My little sister Harriet decided not that long ago that she'd actually like to do the event with me... considering she complains about having to run around the hockey pitch at school for a warm up before her p.e. lesson, running 3 miles could prove interesting! Haha! I can picture myself giving her a piggy back most of the way round, but she's desperate to do it with me and is all geared up with her Race For Life t-shirt and wrist bands!

If you'd like to sponsor me in my Race For Life, which is all going to Cancer Research, you can do so by going to my Just Giving page, even if it's only £1 every little helps! 

Or if you'd like to sponsor my little sister Harriet, she also has a Just Giving page set up, which you can find through this link!

Thank you again for all your support and I will post my next Race For Life update once Harriet and I have completed it on the 8th of June!

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Thursday, 13 March 2014

Bald and Beautiful

Losing your hair and going bald is probably one of the worst things you'll have to go through when you have cancer, (besides all the chemo and drugs.) Sometimes hair loss happens quickly, sometimes it happens gradually. My hair loss was dragged out over a number of weeks as my hair thinned a lot first and then started falling out in clumps and eventually there was hardly any left, so I decided to take the rest off.

Once all my hair was gone (and when it started to poke through again as it was growing back,) one thing I found was that my scalp became itchy and sore and when my hair started to grow back, my scalp felt more itchy and more uncomfortable. I tried different moisturisers at first, but all of them I found to be too strong on my little bald head, so my lovely Mum went off round the shops in search of something to soothe my uncomfortable head and she returned with Bepanthen.
Bepanthen is a nappy care ointment cream. It's a product developed to use on babies with nappy rash, however, it is extremely good to us on a sore, itchy bald head! Honestly, I don't think you'll find anything to beat it! It's quite a thick and creamy ointment, so a little of this on your head will go a long way.

'Bepanthen's gentle formulation quickly soothes and supports gentle skin recovery. When applied at every nappy change, (or when your newly bald head begins to feel sore/ dry or itchy,) Bepanthen forms a long-lasting, breathable barrier, protecting delicate skin against the irritants that can cause nappy rash.' (Or an itchy/ dry/ sore scalp.)

A 30g tube of Bepanthen will last you for a while, but if you want to get a bigger tube it's also available to buy in 100g. You can buy Bepanthen online from *Superdrug* or you can pop into the store. (It is slightly cheaper in Superdrug than Boots.)

Photo taken 2nd October 2013

If your hair has started to grow back already and you want to know which shampoos and conditioners are best to use for your new locks, then you can find all that on one of my previous blog posts *here!*

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Sunday, 9 March 2014

Hair Growth Update - March

Since I took the last bits of my hair off at the end of September, I have been religiously using Lee Stafford's Hair Growth products - Shampoo, Conditioner and Treatment Pot (which you can read about *here*) and I have to say I think that my hair is doing well! I am beginning to accept the fact that it won't grow back to waist length overnight, however, it is doing the best it can with the help of Lee's products.

As you can see from the photos, it is growing back thicker and with a bit of a curl. Pre-cancer my hair was a light shade of brown (also known as mousey brown) and completely straight, if I wanted the slightest bit of volume in it I had to back comb it like crazy and hairspray the life out of it.. now it's not only started growing back darker, it is also thicker and slightly curly/ wavy. It's completely out of control! Ha! If I want to tame it I have to wash it every night to keep it more or less flattened down. In my 'March' photos I'd washed my hair a couple of days before and as you can see, I've got a nice little quiff going on and it's also gone curlier at the back. The longer you don't wash it for, the crazier it gets!
My Dad was the first one to say, "You never know, you might have a massive afro!" Which my younger sister found extremely funny and then spent a couple of minutes drawing a picture of me with a mass of curly hair on my head... brilliant!

I'm not entirely sure as my hair gets longer if it will continue to be as wavy as it is now, or if the weight of the hair as it grows will eventually straighten it out a bit... I'll have to wait and see!

For anyone who has lost their hair, whether it has been due to chemo or not, I would definitely recommend that when it starts to grow back you get some of these products in stock, as not only do they smell nice, they work wonders for your hair in helping it to grow back. Obviously, like I said in my previous hair post, I don't know how quickly hair should grow from scratch, but I personally think that these products are definitely making a difference to my hair growth and I would 100% recommend them to anybody trying to grow their hair longer. You can either buy it online at Boots or in store.

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Saturday, 8 March 2014

One Crazy Week - In The News!

So this week has been absolutely crazy! At the end of February a couple of weeks ago, I was contacted by the lovely Harriet from SWNS news. They're the UK's largest press agency and Harriet had happened to come across my blog and contacted me on twitter saying she wanted to do a piece on it as she thought it might get interest from others who might be in the same situation. So after several phone calls with Harriet, she'd got all the information she needed and I sent her some photos from my blog, as well as photos of me before and after treatment.

Harriet then pitched my story to the papers and it was picked up and published online at the beginning of last week. I was getting emails and telephone calls from lots of different people wanting to know about my blog and my cancer diagnosis, having interviews on the radio and a reporter and cameraman for BBC South East came round late Wednesday afternoon to interview me... Friday lunchtime and Friday evening I was shown on the local news. It's been completely bizarre! However I am extremely thankful for the exposure my blog and 'My Cancer Story' has had over the past week and all the emails I've received, from people who have also been diagnosed with cancer, to those who have been touched by my story. Thank you for your kind messages and I hope that my blog posts on 'Dealing With Cancer' have made a difference to those reading, even if it's just one person.

Below are the links that will take you to my story featured in different newspaper articles online:
The Mail Online
The Argus
The Huffington Post
Kent & Sussex Courier
The Sun
BBC News Sussex

I did a pre-recorded radio interview with Bright FM and spoke to a journalist from the Sussex Express just the other day. I'll also be featured in a Women's magazine later in the month, but I'm not sure when these will pop up, so I'll let you know when I know!

Thank you again for all the support and lovely messages I have received, I am very grateful that my story has had such a positive reaction, so thank you.

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Wednesday, 5 March 2014

To Wig or Not To Wig?

A couple of weeks ago, my Dad and I made the long 5 hour car journey back up to Aberystwyth where I was at uni (and will be returning to in September for my final year) so that I could spend several days seeing my lovely friends, some of whom I hadn't seen since before I was diagnosed last year in June 2013! Which was mainly down to me not wanting to see anybody when I wasn't well. It wasn't that they weren't my friends and couldn't be bothered to come and see me, it was simply because I didn't feel like seeing or talking to anyone. I shut myself off from my friends for a while. I didn't tell them when I was first diagnosed  in June, only a few people knew as my Mum had passed on a message I wasn't well, the majority of my friends found out a month later in July when I dropped it into conversation. This may sound strange. Why wouldn't I tell my friends straight away? Some of whom I've known for years and years. Honestly? I don't think I accepted the whole situation for a while. I was there in hospital, having blood and platelets being pumped into me quite intensively during the first several weeks and it was almost like I was looking down on myself watching all of this going on around me. It took me a while to actually register what was going on.

So when I went up to Aberystwyth, I took my trusty wig along which I got from Trendco in Hove, (you can read all about my lovely wig *here*) as I was very aware of the fact that when I last saw the majority of my friends, I had had lovely long hair that reached almost half way down my back.

I arrived at my friends house (where I should also have been living this year) in my wig and it was really lovely to see everybody again! I braved it the next couple of days and didn't wear my wig, as we mainly stayed in catching up, or wandered around town for a bit. Nothing major. Then came Friday night. Two of my friends were celebrating their birthday in town (which I did know about, as that was one of the reasons I had gone up to Aberystwyth in the first place.) The theme was to dress as something beginning with either a G or a T, so my friend and I went as two tigers. After I'd done makeup on a couple of my friends, I started getting ready, the panic had already set in, what was I so worried about? Should I wear my wig? Shouldn't I wear my wig? Some people won't be aware of what I've been through, what will they say? Will they shout abuse at me? Will they make a passing comment about the girl with really short hair? Why is it so short, did she do a Miley and shave it off and it's only just growing back? She had such nice hair before, what has she done to herself? The questions and the nasty comments that could potentially be said kept popping up in my head. I was panicking, it was the first time I was going out since June and I couldn't stop this chain of negative thoughts that I thought other people would be thinking too when they saw me.

I had to put on my wig.

I wanted a night of normality, I wanted a night where I could go out with my friends like I used to, like any 21 year old would want to and just have fun. The line 'I feel more comfortable with my wig on' came out of me as I was getting ready and they were fine with that. They didn't ask me any questions, or why, (which I was glad about because honestly, I think I would have started crying.) They simple said if that's what makes you comfortable then that's fine with us. I have the best bunch of friends.

Me, Courtney and Frankie, ready for our night out. 

So I went out and I had a lovely final night in Aber. Going back to Aberystwyth made me realise a few things. It made me realise that when you've been through so much and you've been told you're in remission and in the all clear you want life to snap back to normal, how it used to be. But you know what? It won't and it doesn't. Looking at myself each day in the mirror is a constant reminder, I see my short, boyish hair and remember how it all fell it. I can picture it very clearly. Clumps falling from my head to the floor. Masses of hair getting stuck in my hair brush... even my Dad scooping handfuls worth of hair up off the bathroom floor and telling me it'll grow back. He's right, it does grow back. But that doesn't mean it makes it any easier.

My life won't snap back to normal, physically yes, I'm doing so much better than I was and I am in remission and so far in the all clear. But mentally, it takes its toll. There will always be the memories, the little things you see or do on a daily basis that will trigger flashbacks to lying in a hospital bed, hooked up to machines. I'm sure one day in several years time, it will be back to it's lovely length, but for now I have my trusty wig for those days when I don't want to think about what's happened, or thinking about it becomes all too much. I'm incredibly thankful for the doctors and nurses who have helped me this far and will continue to help me and I am also thankful for my amazing bunch of wonderfully supportive friends.

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Monday, 3 March 2014

March Must Haves - Skincare

When I was having treatment, one thing that happened to my skin was that it became very dry, I still have patches of dry skin where I didn't really bother to moisturise as much, such as on my back and my shoulders, but other than those few places, my skin has recovered pretty well from this dryness thanks to daily moisturising.

My skin has always been sensitive and my face is no exception. Because of this I only use products that are kind to my skin and that aren't going to dry it out too much, so let me introduce you to my 'March Must Haves!' First up, my beloved Simple products which I use on a daily basis, morning and evening.

Cleansing/ Facial Wipes
At the moment I have two different packs of Simple's wipes. The 'Kind to Skin Cleansing Facial Wipes' and the 'Spotless Skin Quick Fix Cleansing Wipes.' Both of these packs of wipes will take off all your makeup, including waterproof mascara, (you might have to wipe over it several times) but it will bring it off! They're quick and easy to use if you're in a hurry and you can even carry them round in your handbag if you need to freshen up a bare face during the day.
Cleanse, Tone and Moisturise!

Simple Kind to Skin Purifying Cleansing Lotion
This is a perfect cleansing lotion for dry skin, it's soft and creamy and you can see it taking away dirt from your skin and you can feel it softening the skin at the same time. All you need to do is apply to cotton wool or a cotton pad and gently cleanse your face with it by wiping over your skin!

Simple Kind to Skin Soothing Facial Toner
With a similar application to the Cleansing Lotion, apply the toner onto cotton wool or a cotton pad and wipe over your face. It instantly refreshes and if you've missed any makeup or bits of skin with your Cleansing Lotion this will cover them. You can feel it working on your face and it does leave it looking slightly brighter and feeling refreshed!

Simple King to Skin Hydrating Light Moisturiser
Finally, once I've cleansed and toned, I follow it up with a moisturiser, because my skin (especially my T-Zone) does tend to got quite dry if I don't moisturise every day.
You can apply this using cotton wool or a cotton pad, but I prefer to use my fingers and then you can really massage the moisturiser into your skin. It moisturises your skin and it smells lovely too!

I use these three products together twice a day - morning and evening and they definitely help in keeping my skin clear, refreshed and moisturised!

Finally, you'll see in my picture that Garnier has wriggled its way into my Simple dominated photo! Sneaky, but in this case, it's definitely allowed!

Garnier Micellar Cleansing Water
I only got this product the other day, but it has already worked itself into my skincare routine. At the moment, I'm using it before I start with my Simple products routine, just as a quick freshen up and also during the day if I have no makeup on and fancy refreshing my skin quickly.

I have seen rave reviews about this new miracle cleansing water and at the moment I can't fault it! Garnier claim this product 'removes makeup + cleanses + soothes' with no need for rinsing your face off afterwards... and you know what? They're right! There is no need to rinse after and it definitely does all of the above. I religiously wear waterproof mascara and it does a very good job of getting all of that off, it also leaves your skin feeling fresh and smooth. You apply it to cotton wool or a cotton pad and then wipe over the skin. It's as easy as that!

I love my Simple products and the new Garnier Micellar Water has definitely slotted its way quickly into my skincare routine. I'd recommend all these products, especially if you have dry skin and are looking to keep it refreshed, clearer and moisturised.

You can find all the above products mentioned in Superdrug, which you can also shop at online *here!*

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