February 4 is World Cancer Day, a good opportunity to take a closer look at the way sufferers are perceived and the image they project. Marie-Laure Allouis is a nurse, image consultant and president of APIMA, a French association that helps patients rebuild their image, gives advice so they can make the most of their looks and helps them find some wellbeing in spite of their illness.
Why is it important to look after oneself when one is suffering from cancer?
When patients look after themselves and they don't look ill, they feel better and stay positive. Those close to them are more likely to treat them in same way and not with the pity, which can put a strain on the relationship. Patients can maintain an almost identical quality of life. Moreover, if the patient feels good, they might have fewer side effects from chemotherapy and therefore, better chances of survival because there will be fewer constraints in terms of lowering the doses of their treatment.
What parts of the face should cancer patients pay particular attention to?
First of all, one must moisturize one's skin which can be altered and dried out by chemotherapy. It is also important to cover up the loss of eyelashes and eyebrows. To do this, we must highlight the patient's eyes to restructure their face.
What beauty tips should patients follow?
Once again, moisturize skin and give it a healthy look and tone. It is important to hide as much as possible the sickly skin tones (grey, yellow, white) that sufferers take on. I would also advise creating the illusion of eyelashes and drawing in eyebrows. To finish, one can apply a little gloss and hydrate lips that are often cracked.
How can one deal with the loss of hair, another consequence of chemotherapy?
I would advise patients to buy a wig before they even lose their hair if they don't want to change their cut and color. For those who don't want a wig, wearing a scarf or hats with various accessories is stylish, elegant and shows personality. This is often a time when patients discover their femininity and learn to look after themselves without feeling guilty.
Marie-Laure Allouis is the author of French books Soigner son image pour mieux vivre son cancer (Taking care of your image to cope with cancer better) and Conseils de beauté pour mieux vivre son cancer (Beauty tips to cope with cancer better) available on the APIMA website.