herald

Thursday 19 October 2017

My make-up tips show cancer doesn't stop us trying to look our best

A DUBLIN woman fighting breast cancer is trying to remove the stigma attached to the illness -- by hosting special make-up classes.

Francine Shelley (50), from Malahide, is giving make-up and hair seminars for cancer sufferers in order to "remove the fear" associated with the illness.

She said looking better can help you feel better.

The brave mother of three is battling breast cancer for the second time, and is determined to fight through it and help others along the way.

Speaking to the Herald, she said: "When people find out you have cancer, they treat you like you're dying. But when you look better they actually look surprised. I think they expect you to expire on the spot. Although it's not their fault, I would probably have been the same.

"I think it's a great opportunity to take the fear away. It's such a sensitive issue, but I've been there myself and I won't automatically look at you with that same sympathetic eye."

Francine, who has undergone a mastectomy and reconstructive surgery, said she knows the "look" that cancer sufferers get - and doesn't want her clients to feel like victims, but instead just the same as any normal woman that wants an extra boost of confidence.

"It can give great comfort, it's not all doom and gloom," she said.

"It can be a huge confidence boost and make you forget for a while that you are fighting this.

"And how you look is something you're in control of."

As a trained make-up artist, she wants to use her unique experiences with the illness to help give other women the know-how on ways to feel good, whether it be helping them choose a wig or through the make-up classes.

She said the classes could also give relatives a way of lifting their own spirits, as they struggle to come to terms with their love-one's illness.

"I think it would be important for families, a nice way to give mum a boost of confidence," she said.

"When you're ill, your eyes might be a bit darker so it would be more about lightening up certain areas. It's to teach you how to use make-up.

"It would be something nice for a mother and daughter to share. And in group classes, there's the potential for a nice exchange of ideas."

Her three children Shelly (19), Yvonne (17) and Joseph (15) are proud of their mother and she said they are happy for her to do anything that will keep her happy and busy.

"This is my second time fighting cancer. I finished my chemotherapy in January. But I have two more treatments left and I'll be finished this in November.

"Before my five-year anniversary if that's what you can call it - where I was waiting to get the all clear - I was diagnosed with a second type of cancer in the same breast.

"You have no choice but to get on with it," she added.

cmcbride@herald.ie

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