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For World Cancer Day we interviewed Helen Addis, TV Producer, Mother, Superwoman, Breast Cancer Survivor, Activist and ebullient human being, who has just launched The C-List - a web community for people undergoing treatment for and recovering from cancer.
Statistically, over 50% of people will have cancer in their lifetime, yet when Helen was diagnosed, she couldn't find a friendly source of information on anything from 'what to use on my face' to 'how do I tell my kids about this?'
I was diagnosed with aggressive breast cancer at 39, when I had no breast cancer family history and felt fighting fit at the time, working as a TV producer and also a mum of three. I always just thought ‘it wouldn’t happen to me’.
Having the cancer bomb dropped on you is devastating enough when but when your skin, nails and hair start taking a blow during treatment, it can really take the elastic out of your knickers! Cancer patients are often advised by their medical team and beauty staff to “use baby products” as some beauty products are not safe for use if you are undergoing cancer treatment like chemotherapy. Well-meaning perhaps but also impractical. How many six-week-old babies have their moods elevated by a splash of lippy or nail varnish? With one in two of us getting a cancer diagnosis in our lifetime, it is clear that something had to change.
I also felt incredibly isolated as I struggled to navigate what beauty products I could actually use on my increasingly sensitive skin. I remember going into a high street chemist for advice and overheard the staff whispering about me, saying ‘she’s got cancer, do you think she can use this?’ I felt alienated as there was an abundance of products suitable for Vegans, gluten intolerant etc but nothing for me and the approx. 1000 people in the UK/ 5000 In the USA who are diagnosed every day.
This is why beauty expert Lisa Potter-Dixon and I created The-C-List – with the sole mission to make the cancer journey a little less, well, sh**ty. It’s a first of its kind passion project. Not only is it an online beauty shop packed with cancer-kinder products from trusted brands, like Beauty Pie, but it’s also a growing community site with video tutorials and blog posts. It’s like ‘Goop’ for those affected by cancer.
Lisa is passionate about showing how to actually use our cancer-kinder beauty products and how to get the most out of your skin. I am equally passionate about supporting people through their cancer treatment and all the craziness it brings to your life. There will also be other cancer thriver journeys and expert blogs giving support from cancer treatment, menopause, fertility advice to dental tips and everything in between. We’ve got tutorials on how to tell your children you have cancer to how rehydrate your skin during treatment and how to fill in your eyebrows. We also have monthly giveaway competition for C-list subscribers and a monthly newsletter also.
Skincare and make up was a a big part of my life before having the cancer bomb dropped on me but I never needed it more than when I was going through treatment. It wasn't about vanity. It was about me trying to feel and look as good as I possibly could. It was almost like war paint! It made me feel more empowered and invincible even. Being told that I had to rethink my products was a real blow. Imagine losing your entire makeup bag....it makes your heart skip a beat! Yes, I was grateful that the doctors were saving my life but it was important beyond words to me to LOOK LIKE ME! Cancer you can take my boob, you can take my hair but leave me my moisturiser and mascara please. Thanks.
While I was having chemotherapy and after speaking to family and friends, it was clear to me that most people are not checking their boobs for signs and symptoms of breast cancer and were not clear on what they were. I started a ‘CHANGE AND CHECK’ campaign to increase awareness and educate by placing stickers in thousands of changing rooms of high street shops nationwide. The campaign was even mentioned in Prime Minister’s Question Time and also endorsed by celebrities like Emma Bunton, Kelly Osbourne, Naomi Campbell, Sheryl Crow and Madonna. You can save your life in the time that it takes to get changed! During the pandemic, where cancer treatment and diagnosis has been dramatically impacted, it is more important than ever to devote the time to scan and be aware of changes in our whole body and share them if you have any concerns with your doctor.
At BEAUTY PIE we have curated a list of the best picks for skincare, haircare and cosmetics for cancer treatment sensitized skin, WITHOUT skin renewing retinoids, alpha /beta hydroxy acids, or fragrance. (Of course, many of our products don’t contain these items, but as we are very active ingredient focused, most contain ‘some’.) View our C-List edit.
Disclaimer: We have worked hard to curate a selection of products suitable for sensitive and sensitised skin that are free from retinoids, alpha-hydroxy acids, beta-hydroxy acids and fragrance. However individual responses to cancer treatments can vary quite widely and your body may not take to every product. We therefore always recommend consulting with your medical practitioner if you experience any skin issues or discomfort. The products offered here are not medical products.