Beauty and fashion options for breast cancer patients
For so many women, coping with breast cancer takes a toll. But resources are available to help patients and survivors look and feel their best. Weeks after Patricia Blackwood was diagnosed with cancer last October, the mother of two from New Jersey got the word "Strength" tattooed on her wrist.
"I am double stage-four cancer, my breast and my bones. So I will never be quote cancer free," she says. "I needed something besides my mind to just look down on and to just keep me going and to give me strength and it does."
Staying strong even during chemotherapy. And then there was the hair loss.
"A month into my treatment I realized I was starting to lose my hair," she says. "And I wanted to make that transition before it was all gone."
Through her research, she found Andrew DiSimone from Hairplace NYC on Lexington Avenue. He specializes in wigs for women dealing with cancer.
"Women just want to fly under the radar," Andrew says. "And our wigs definitely help them do that."
Andrew's wigs come in dozens of styles and all of them are hand-tied, a process that makes the wigs look more natural.
"If I part the hair and I separate it, it looks like scalp," Andrew says. "One hair at a time, hand-crocheted to a stocking thin cap that sits on your head. It's a perfect solution for a woman going through chemotherapy because they go on and off daily."
When Patricia put on her wig for the first time, she says she felt confident. And most importantly, she felt like herself.
"I felt so beautiful that I had taken picture and sent it to my family and they were like, 'Wow, that actually looks better than your original, like your hair! You look better.'"
Andrew says it's hard to describe what it feels like to help.
"I think the best part is the hug," Andrew says. "When they look at themselves in the mirror and just give you a hug."
"It's one less mental problem you need to go through and it just makes that process so much easier, because I am such a firm believer in if you look good, you feel good," Patricia says. "And I feel I look good. And I feel good."
Laurel Kamen had a double mastectomy for breast cancer four years ago.
"I had been looking around for clothes that would look beautiful while I was recovering, that would address my needs, and I couldn't find them anywhere," she says.
The night before she underwent the double mastectomy, she called her best friend Christine Irvin with an idea: to create a clothing line women could wear during and after treatment. It's called the Alloro Collection. It's filled with colorful tops, dresses, scarves and handbags. All of the clothes are made in comfortable fabrics. Design elements address concerns of women dealing with cancer.
"Often if you go through chemo and radiation you get neuropathy -- so you have nerve damage, in your fingers, so it's a little hard to get buttons through, so we just do snaps," Christine, the co-founder, says.
The theme of the collection is "clothes that love you back." Laurel and Christine are spreading love through their clothing.
"Your life changes after you've had cancer, but you don't have to look any less wonderful," Laurel says.