Hi, I’m Sophie, Look’s Beauty Editor. Until last December, my life was pretty amazing.

— Then I got breast cancer. — Now my blog (and lipstick!)helps me feel better…
nly a few months ago, I was leading my dream life. I travelled all over the world with my job, had just moved in with my boyfriend and was looking forward to a happy future. Then overnight I found a lump. I wasn’t worried about cancer – not only was I young (in cancer terms 31 is very young!), there was no history in my family, and it hurt, which apparently they’re not supposed to do. But I was wrong. Within two weeks I was facing a long road of tests, scans, eight cycles of chemotherapy,

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surgery, radiotherapy, and of course everything that goes with it, including hair loss, a lot of scary what-ifs and sleepless nights. I’ll be honest, chemo is tough. Losing my hair was pretty horrific, but once I stopped feeling guilty for worrying about being bald -– how superficial of me – I realised that of course I should worry about it. I am a girl after all. Now I fully take advantage of my wigs! At the beginning there was a lot of waiting and worrying, and this is when people told me I should write it all down. But not only did I have other things on my mind, I didn’t want to start a ‘woe is me’ cancer diary. However, when I

started to get better, look better and get to grips with my wig, it made sense to link the whole thing in with my beauty expertise.

Blogging is a bit of a lifeline – it’s great to do something productive with my time. Plus I can look back on it later and remember the ups

Blogging is a bit of a lifeline for me – it feels great to do something productive
So I hooked up with Look Good…Feel Better, a cancer charity dedicated to this entire topic, and started a new blog – sophiefeelsbetter.blogspot.com. (because there are plenty of those) like responses from blog readers, and getting closer to my boyfriend, family and friends, who have been unbelievable.

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The Boyfriend

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y boyfriend Raja has been amazing. He makes me laugh constantly, which has earned him the digital pseudonym ‘Dadjokes’ on my blog, and he comes with me without fail every time I go to hospital. My support network has been invaluable – my parents schlep up to north London from Surrey every time too. I’m a huge needle phobe. So imagine my delight at the news that I’d need Granocyte white blood cell injections for five days every time I had chemo. Poor Dadjokes drew the short straw after I refused to do it (to me, injecting myself is as possible as punching myself in the face), and my mum nearly passed out practising on a polystyrene cup. It turns out it’s completely fine. He’s really very good, and I like the comforting ‘OK’ lullaby he does every time: “OK, ready? It’s going in. you OK? I’m going to do it now. OK? Feeling OK?”

Raja, aka DadJokes

RAjA SAyS:

“Although we were both physically in the room at the initial diagnosis, I think I may have been there more mentally than Sophie. There were so many questions jumbled in my head I didn’t know what to ask first, so I tried these…. “Does she have to have chemotherapy?” “How long does it last?” “What do you mean six months? Six months?” “Is it every day? Can she stay at home?” And Sophie asked: “Am I

going to lose my hair? I actually found it quite hurtful when her mother took me to one side to tell me that Sophie was convinced I wouldn’t find her attractive any more, and that she was especially worried about bedtime when she couldn’t hide it from me. I’ll admit I had a little weep to myself that she could think that. I took it to mean that although I was comfortable with my insecurities around her, perhaps it wasn’t reciprocated. Of course, it wasn’t as simple as that. A couple of months have passed now, the love of my life is a baldie, and thankfully she has not once felt the need to hide it from me. I try to greet her with a new name every time I come in the door – Richard O’Brien, Uncle Fester, Grant Mitchell. But she still just looks like Soph to me. ”

“Jonathan Soons from Headmasters turns me into a redhead”

Wigs
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My HOT NEW ACCESSORIES!

Losing My Hair
uring a whirlwind day of scary diagnosis, meeting specialists and seriously freaking out, you may be surprised to hear I was consumed by the hair thing, even then. This could have been in an effort to blank out the scarier stuff, or it could be because I am a beauty editor. I was all about my hair – it was long, and curly or wavy depending on it’s mood. My consultant told me: “You’ll definitely be a glamorous hats and scarves woman. I thought: ” “I’ll definitely be a wig woman,” mortified at the thought of my boyfriend seeing me bald. Actually, now he’s the only one I’m truly comfortable taking my wig off in front of. I first went for a shorter, shoulder-length hairstyle to make the transition easier. Then my friend Kenna stepped in, and gave me the best crop ever. I hated it of course – it was pixie short and nothing like anything

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I’d ever go for, but after a few days and a hundred compliments, I loved it. Two weeks after chemotherapy it was something of a shocker to scratch my head and come away holding 7/8 strands of hair. “My friend Kenna gave me the The result was best crop ever” immediate meltdown and lengthy discussion with DadJokes about what to do next. We plumped for an immediate grade one with the clippers. I’m not going to lie, the shaving was the worst bit so far. I blubbed, DadJokes blubbed, my cats Elwood and Columbo (my medicine in fluffy, warm form) were beside themselves with excitement, and I couldn’t bear to look in the mirror for a day.

After a few days and a hundred compliments, I loved my short hair

couple of months on, I consider myself to be something of a wig veteran. I’m exceptionally lucky to be in the position of having some excellent wigs and advice thrown at me by very good expert friends – Claire Rothstein, Kenna from Kennaland.com and the team at Headmasters. Nevertheless I was nervous about wearing my first one. I think it’s the self-consciousness of it. It was as close to my natural hair colour as possible to ease me in gently. I know I’m wearing a wig (it feels like a hair hat, which instinctively makes me want to take it off whenever I go indoors), so I think everyone can tell. I’m pretty much over that now, but there have been many wig wobbles along the way. To be honest, Dadjokes found it a bit hard to get used to too. He knows what my real hair looks like and this was different, so kept trying to ‘fix’ me. I know his intentions were lovely, like telling someone their jumper is on inside out – you’d rather know, right? But being hyper-sensitive about anyone being hyperaware, I found it upsetting that he wasn’t just telling me it looked amazing. Now though, I am gloriously ginger! I can’t tell you how much this makes me want to go out. And I’m sure you can appreciate, that is really saying something. I’d never have the guts to go so red with my ‘real’ hair. For a girl who loves accessories, this is a huge accessorisingopportunity.


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o Battling T Keep My Lashes

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“Rapidlash is my weapon against eyelash loss”

MISSING WORK

One of the first questions I asked on D (diagnosis) day was: “What do I do about work?” I was something

after chemo week, I could barely sleep for excitable outfit planning. If you could see the sheer volume of clothes that hang redundant in

It’s full-on at a fashion show, I forgot I’m supposed to be ill
of a workaholic. Actually, I still am. Although I can’t quite manage the hours I did before, being a part-timer is not all bad. The night before my first day back favour of pyjamas, you would feel nearly as sad as they do. So imagine the mind-whirring that went on on the eve of our third Look Show during London

Fashion Week. Not only was I getting dressed, I was appearing in my chosen outfit on film, talking through the make-up looks for the catwalk. It’s full-on backstage at a fashion show – I completely forgot I’m supposed to be ill. The worst thing was viewing all the amazing catwalk outfits I really want to add to my neglected wardrobe. Pointless that may be, but workaholisim is not my only addiction. Time to defrost the credit card… n Follow Sophie’s blog at sophiefeelsbetter.blogspot.com.

“Me and Beauty Writer Katie at The Look show”

Sophie’s New Wonder Beauty Products
“These have become my new essentials”
Crème de la Mer The Radiant Concealer, £xx. Gives me a little extra help to hide the fatigue, plus it perks up my whole face. DuWop Blushbooster Illuminating Blush in Mango, £xx. Everyone should have this skinbooster – sick, healthy, hungover or just in need of a skin pep-up.

I can’t do without a combo of mineral Guerlain Lingerie de Peau, £xx, and Bare Minerals Matte Mineral Powder Foundation, £xx, to let my skin breathe and cover up any blotchiness.

REN No.1 Purity Cleansing Balm, £xx. The thickest, most effective cleanser that moisturises too. Dior Powder Eyebrow Pencil, £xx. The perfect powdery texture and the built-in brush gives a natural finish.

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WORDS: SOPHIE BERESINER

ccording to my consultant, since eyebrows and lashes don’t grow quite as fast, they’ll hopefully just thin. I hope so! The hair thing, in the end, I can deal with – it’s temporary. I can adapt to the wig/hat business, and on the whole no one can tell. No eyelashes, however, and I’m in screamingly obvious territory (please don’t get me wrong, I’m not ashamed, I just don’t want people to feel sorry for me). So I’m having a war with myself. I won’t let the lashes go quietly. I must admit, every

day day I find one on my cheeks I panic a little. But the real weapon is this: RapidLash. It’s an eyelashenhancing serum, available at Boots for £40. The results are ridiculously good. I’m four chemo sessions in and my eyebrows have practically faded into obscurity, and my lashes are measly, but the combo of RapidLash serum, and, when I go out, Revlon Grow Luscious Mascara really works. On the brow front, I’ve discovered Dior Sourcils Poudre powder brow pencil with brush, in Chestnut. Foolproof.