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My name is Lauren and I am a 35-year-old woman from Australia. My journey starts on a beautiful autumn afternoon in New York. After a day of exploring, I went back to my hotel room and noticed that my right breast appeared to be looking more fabulous and fuller than the other. I found a large, distinct lump. Although quite shocked, I dismissed the lump as hormonal changes that might result in a cyst or something. I’d had a breast check at the doctor two years prior, so cancer wasn’t even on my radar -especially not while holidaying in New York!

A week later, I arrived back home in Australia and the whirlwind begun; I was thrown from left to right, from appointment to appointment. After multiple surgeries and some neat and tidy battle scars, before I knew it I was walking through the oncology doors to commence chemotherapy. I had been diagnosed with breast cancer. Receiving this news at 35 was the last thing I ever expected to hear. It was confronting, confusing and very frightening. Cancer was certainly not part of my life plan.

I found out about the Paxman Scalp Cooling System but was met with cynicism from friends, family and those in the medical field. I guess that’s because nobody really understood what losing my hair actually meant to me. People wondered whether it was really that important to save my hair when I had such a fierce battle on my hands but quite frankly, it was.

I wore the cold cap before, during and after chemotherapy. On my first treatment it was 32.3 degrees outside and I was sipping vegetable soup to warm myself up during the process. |t was very cold, but I suppose I didn’t have a lot of meat on my bones after my week-long stay at Medical Hotel Cabrini (and I promise it wasn’t the food!). Being warm is essential! It makes your scalp cooling time much more bearable and you may even be able to sneak in a nap while passing the hours.

I endured chemotherapy for 6 months and attended my regular checkups. Things seemed to be stabilising. Unfortunately, however, there was more bad news to come. Two years following my initial diagnosis came the news of secondary breast cancer, in the liver and quite possibly the lungs. This challenging discovery unleashed a new-found determination in me: not to let cancer, chemotherapy, radiation or a double mastectomy define who I was. And I sure as hell wasn’t going to let it define how I looked.

Trying the cold cap was the best decision I made. I kept my hair and it gave me some control back. I had something to focus on rather than just thinking about the side effects and what comes next on the cancer to-do list.

As a foodie, traveller and makeup artist, I have decided to share with others who are living with cancer (and even those who are not) my tips, tricks and insights to looking healthy and radiant on the outside, as I so desperately wanted my body to be on the inside. (My first tip is that the stories and anecdotes I share should not be taken as ‘bible’ but rather enjoyed and emulated where you see fit!). It’s about living with cancer graciously, while ensuring cancer does not define your life. Scalp cooling helped me do this.

You can read my blog here: http://www.leavemyjewelleryoutofthis.com/

Lauren x

Lauren West, Australia
Lauren West, Australia
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