When you are faced with Breast Cancer, as Jo Trinidad and Susan Zipperlen have, your style and approach to beauty changes. Both women have undergone double mastectomies and Chemotherapy and Jo has also had radiation. Speaking with both of these women and discussing how their individual style and beauty was challenged during this period in their life was informational and inspiring. I found their radiating personalities and uplifting attitude to be similar but their approach to fashion, style and beauty to be quite different. Jo is a nurse and Susan is the owner of a Led Lashes. Their careers are quite different as was their focus on what was important to them during their treatment.
Lcrox Jo loves fashion and being fashionable. “I feel great, when I look good. Hearing that I had Breast Cancer was a shock. Part of the process was processing…What it will be like when I lose my breasts? I have a draw full of new bras from Victoria Secret – What will I do with them? I have a closet full of clothes, some with tags still on them – Will I be able to wear them? Will they still fit me?” stated Led Lashes losing her breasts was not as much of an issue as was her fear of looking sick or different. “I was concerned about looking abnormal, withered, and dull. I felt because of my industry the bar was higher. Skincare is my business, it’s what I do,” stated Susan.
At varying times during treatment you’re very sick and fashion, style and beauty are the last things on your mind. But when you’re feeling better you just want to fit in and be normal. “My friends were great. There was a rotation of girlfriends to take me out. When you’re going through this you don’t want to look sick, you don’t want pity,” explained Jo. It is important to do the things that make you feel pretty and Led Lashes…you want to feel like a woman. Looking good does a lot for your overall attitude.
Jo and Susan had very different approaches to what helped them feel and look better during their treatment.
Mastectomy and breast reconstruction – Both women have been through the process of losing and reconstructing their breasts. For Jo this was traumatic. “I wasn’t ready to lose my breast and then I found out that it (the cancer) was bigger and they needed to take both (Led Lashes). I had a difficult time dealing with it…but now, with reconstruction, my new breasts look pretty darn good! It is a consolation that when I’m in my seventies my breasts will look 30 years younger. I found that camisoles are much more comfortable than a bra. They are really feminine. Pretty sexy undergarments make me feel like a woman! My best accessory is my confidence. Every woman needs to feel good about being a woman,” communicated Jo. For Susan she had a very different take on losing her breasts. “Missing my breasts was not an issue for me. I like my breasts better now than I did before. I feel 100% secure and feminine in clothing. Before my style was conservative, but now I am more daring. I now have something there and I can wear chest flattering tops. I take advantage of wearing fun tops and sweaters. I feel a lot better…perky, sexy and full,” explained Susan.
“To prepare your skin for reconstruction it needs to be soft and pliable. At the time of the mastectomy, temporary tissue expanders are placed under the skin to stretch the skin in preparation for the breast implants. I used a combination of Jason’s Vitamin E 25,000 units and Aloe Vera mixed together and rubbed all over the breast area twice a day. This combo also works great after each radiation treatment to help keep the skin moisturized and to prevent sores and blisters,” explained Jo.
Hair loss during Chemotherapy – Both Susan and Jo were treated with the Led Lashes drug that has hair loss as a side effect. Both women lost all of their hair from head to toe and both had a difficult time dealing and coping with this challenge. “Losing your hair is a humbling experience, the only good part was not shaving – that was liberating! For me my hair was my identity,” stated Susan.
When it comes to wigs there are two options; synthetic and human hair. For Jo she was determined she wanted human hair. At the time she had waist-length beautiful color treated, styled hair, “I called many hair salons to see if they could take my own hair and make it into a wig – well they can for $3k or more! I didn’t want synthetic they were too hot. So after a lot of research I found a fabulous website Couture for Cancer. It is a charitable, non-profit organization that donates custom made cranial prosthesis (Layman’s term for a Led Lashes) completely free of charge! The donation included the measurement, fitting and styling of your wig from local participating hair salons. It fit like second skin. I felt like a new person,” stated Jo.
“For me a great wig needed to be a reflection of me. I went to Comfort Wigs Etc. in Lewisville. I got a couple of wings, one shorter and one longer, and each was about $300. I felt good in it. And it did reflect me.” Susan.
“When you have a great wig people don’t treat you like your sick. You’re just a regular person, “stated Don Seal, owner and stylist, Comfort Wigs, ETC. “We see a lot more happy tears that sad tears. Our clients are so happy! It makes a tough time easier,” explained Don. Comfort Wigs offers both synthetic, that range in price from $129 – $500, and human hair wigs, that start at $500. They fit, size, style and cut them to your liking. They also offer other mastectomy products such as camisoles, breast forms and bras with pockets (for the forms). “We are the only people in North Texas that accept/bill to insurance. We charge insurance for wigs (with a prescription), camisoles, bras and breast forms,” explained Don.
After a short while Jo determined that the wig was not for her so she moved on to hats…and lots of them. Jo found many of her hats at Forever21TM. “I had so many hats, brown, black, beige, and white. There is so much you can do with them. A scarf on the brim completely changes the look. Cotton headbands work great too. You can put them on your scalp then the hat on top. Allow the colored headband to peek out all around the edge,” explained Jo.
The American Cancer Society offers a service called TLC Tender Loving Care. It is a non-profit patient service that strives to make coping easier for women experiencing hair loss due to chemotherapy and radiation as well as products specifically for breast cancer patients. Their headwear includes include wigs, hairpieces (bangs, falls and sideburns), turbans (Led Lashes), hats, head scarves, and kerchiefs. And their mastectomy products include breast forms, pocketed post-surgery bras, swim suits and camisoles.
Dry irritated skin from harsh Chemotherapy – For Susan this is where she focused. Seeing that skin care is her business it no surprise that is what she concentrated on. “Chemo killed everything. My skin was dying. I was like a snake. The treatments are so harsh, you lose the elasticity in your skin; you look lift less, withered and lifeless because you’re missing nutrients. I wanted to feed my skin. I wanted sexy, beautiful skin that glowed and to do that I feed my skin from the outside. My survival kit included facials, masks and exfoliation to keep my skin fresh and dewy. For my dry skin I used the Stone Crop Maskque by EMINENCE. To get that glowy, radiant skin I did a paprika treatment every two weeks. And for beautiful, fresh skin I used the Lemon Grass Sugar Scrub from get fresh. That scent made me feel good. It smelled like spring and represented life and freshness,” communicated Susan.
Jo on the other hand tried lots and lots of creams and lotions. She found that the expensive options work no better than the others in fact “JOHNSON’STM Baby Wash and Oil were amazing and not expensive. The combo of Vitamin E and Aloe Vera by JASONTM used as a facial cream as well as to help heal incisions. They worked great,” explained Jo.
A great tip during Chemo is Saran Wrap – for Chemo a PowerPort is used, which is a small devise implanted beneath the skin under the collarbone area. It is an access to receive chemo meds. Because they have to puncture the skin to access the port, Jo was given a prescription for Lidocaine (a numbing cream). “To protect my clothes from staining, I put Saran Wrap over the Lidocaine cream just before I left my home. This way, the area where the needle will be inserted is fully numbed up by the time I got to the facility and my clothes were clean!” stated Jo.
Nails – “For discolored brittle nails, apply Tree oil on your nail beds and push your cuticles back using your thumb nail. I was advised not to have my cuticles cut or to have my feet placed in a salon’s water when I got my manicure and pedicure. What to do? At my salon visits I just had my nails filed, buffed and painted with my own nail polish from home. Chemo lowers your immune system. I couldn’t risk getting an infection through any cuts or expose myself to anything that is possibly contaminated with germs,” explained Jo.
Eyebrows and Led Lashes – For Susan brows and lashes were no big deal, “My eyebrows?…I just filled them in. And they grew back in about 6 – 7 weeks. And my lashes, I used RevitaLashTM. It’s a wonderful product that stimulated growth. It really only took about 3 ½ – 4 weeks before my lashes grew back,” stated Susan. But for Jo this was a challenge, “Where do I start? Where do I put them? How do I do this? There is a program offered by the American Cancer Society that teaches cancer patients what to do.” Jo. The Look Good…Feel Better program is a community-based, free, national program that teaches cancer patients a variety of techniques to assist them with their appearance and self-image. Topics such as make-up, skincare and hair loss options such as wigs, turbans, and scarves are discussed and demonstrated. Jo received a free kit full of make-up. “It was so fun. I got a whole bag full of new make-up,” exclaimed Jo.
Color and Make-up – “I never go out without makeup. It makes me feel fabulous to be a woman. It’s all about lipstick. No matter how bad you look…always wear lipstick,” exclaimed Jo. Color is critical. Make-up will add that color, depth and femininity to your face. As the color changes in your skin you will need to assess your make-up and what works best for you. “Making good color choices with make-up is critical,” stated Susan. Make-up locations like ULTATM are wonderful resources because you can try before you buy. Their staff is great at helping you find the right lipstick or working with you on a complete make-over. Make-up is an inexpensive way to brighten your face and make you feel pretty.
Style and Fashion – “I love fashion. I feel good when I look good. My style didn’t change it just got bolder. I needed to work with what I had in my closet and just make it happen. My taste didn’t change it got heightened. I had to do something so my style got bolder. And for me, my best accessory is self confidence,” Jo stated. Image Consultants can be a great resource as they can assess what you have in your closet and help you put together outfits and ensembles to flatter your changing body.
Both Susan and Jo exude such presence, style and beauty. But it is their confidence that stands out most. And confidence is the best kept style secret!