Olivia Rose Smith

Thursday, 19 April 2018


The last thing I wanted to do was turn my blog into something vain and centred around looks but I get so many comments and questions from people on how I still look so well so I thought I’d write a post about all the products I am using when I actually do feel well enough to leave the house!

I have been so conscious of not looking like a cancer patient from the get go, so I’ve done my research on the best products to use and these with a combination of products I’ve used for years have successfully created my cancer disguise - business as usual!!

The first thing I have to say is so important to keep you looking like you haven’t just been pumped full of poison is fake tan!!! There are two fake tans I have been using at the moment which I totally recommend. Firstly is the Clarins liquid bronze self tanning for face, and secondly the St Tropez everyday body lotion (I use medium/ dark). Chemo makes your skin so dry so I have found that mousse fake tans which I used to swear by just go patchy very quickly and that drives me mad. Its crazy how much better a tan can make you feel, I am very rarely without any tan on, its my armour.

Skincare is so important always but especially when you are sick. I have absolutely no science backing this up, but actually having a skin care routine does make me feel better about myself, I guess because it feels like I am looking after my body and I have a tiny bit of control over something? Its also something to do, I am often so bored at home so to add in a bit of a pamper session feels like such a treat. Anyway, I love to use The White Company Super Balm gentle daily cleanser, it takes off all your makeup so easily and leaves your face looking so glowy. This is the only cleanser I have actually ever liked. It is made by the Abnormal Beauty Company and it apparently has no nasties in it so it is kind to my newly sensitive chemo skin. 

Because chemo effects all your fast dividing cells, this means your nails too, they become weak and flakey, which mine already were so now they're weaker and flakier!!! So I have given them their own armour too - shellac!! I have had shellac on my nails constantly throughout chemo, I have had it done every two weeks and I haven't gone a day without it. (Make sure you do not pull off your shellac if it starts peeling because your nail will probably come off with it now that they are so weakened!!) Apparently going for a dark colour on your nails helps too. Not only is this saving your nails but what better excuse to go and treat yourself than the fact you are having chemo?!

Talking of treating yourself, I have also been having free weekly massages done at the Wessex cancer trust centre in chandlers ford (You have to take advantage of everything that is offered to you!!) and I love them, they are so relaxing and I usually go home and fall asleep for the rest of the afternoon!

I have always been a bit of a perfectionist in terms of hair, makeup, my fake tan and my outfit etc so being given a scar (not a head turner, I admit, but still a scar) across my neck kinda pissed me off actually. But I was given an amazing scar cream from a friend which I have been told is used on burns victims and completely gets rid of the scar if you use it often enough - Its called Regima Scar Repair, it works on new scars and old scars, but it is fairly pricey I think. I have definitely seen a massive improvement even though the scar is only a few months old! I guess whats more difficult to accept about the scar is the story behind it other than anything else, a constant reminder of my diagnosis across my neck! yay!

I bath all the bloody time, and I have finally found the perfect additive for my bath, Olverum bath oil!! It is full of essential oils for soothing aching muscles, relieving stress, promoting a restorative sleep that can help revive a tired immune system and it also leaves my skin silky.

I have also come across a few more tips on the hair side of things… So I had always been told try not to brush your hair and try to wash it as little as possible when going through chemo. I totally ignored these tips, because I couldn't not wash and brush my hair frequently… and actually I was right. After listening to a podcast with a specialist on cold caps featuring on there, she was talking about how to keep hold of as much hair as possible. She said to brush it, otherwise the hair which has fallen out will matt into your other hair. But also she said to wash it as usual because your scalp needs to be cleansed! However, be mindful when using the hairdryer and use it on a lower setting and don't use brushes which tug too much. I think a regular paddle brush works just fine!

Unfortunately I don’t have any tips regarding eyelashes and eyebrows as of yet because mine are still intact… But I do wish that I had had my eyebrows micro bladed before I started my treatment, because they have started to thin and I hate how my eyebrows look when I draw them on.

Although I am doing all of these things to make myself look better on the exterior, it doesn't take away from the fact I have definitely lost all of my confidence, I don't feel like myself at all. I don't know if this has anything to do with my looks to be honest, its almost like I hate my body and its connection with this illness. I understand that its doing amazing things and fighting cancer which is impressive. But its difficult to be liv when I feel like i’m cancer. Thats something I swore I would never feel but I definitely underestimated how difficult it is to not let this take over your life. I wonder how long it will take for that feeling to go away?

But one thing I will say is that I look back on photos of me from a year ago, or even just at the start of this year, and think wow what I would give to look and feel like that again. But I remember at the time I was massively picking on myself and putting myself down about the smallest of things. Guys, LIFE IS TOO SHORT. Love yourself!!! Cos why the hell not?! No one else can see these things that you are putting yourself down for.


Tuesday, 3 April 2018

My hair so far

One of the most common associations with cancer and chemo-therapy is hair loss. I think thats why I was so scared to loose mine - the thought of becoming so easily associated with the illness, and to become the face of cancer to so many people around me was definitely frightening to say the least.

My hair started falling out when I was admitted to hospital at the beginning of March, after just one chemo. It never came out in clumps but always separate strands from all over my head, which probably made it much easier to cope because it meant I didn't have any completely bald patches on my head. 

So many people said to me that I would find it distressing to have my hair falling out, but I have to admit its been more irritating to be covered in strands of hair all the time than a distress. People are constantly picking hair off of my clothes - it literally gets everywhere!!!

At first it was falling out thick and fast, but now it seems to have completely slowed down. I maybe even say my hair isn't falling out at all right now! So what if it doesn't fall out anymore than this? Maybe I will be one of the lucky ones and hold onto what I've got for the duration of my chemo?

Although my hair is very very thin and I would say that over 50% of it has fallen out, what I'm left with is still acting as a cancer disguise for those who don’t already know I’ve got it…  Something I cant seem to let go of. 

However that doesn't mean I haven't found it difficult to cope with how different it does look. I hate my hair now, its not me. Probably as a result of this I feel like I have no connection with it, and right now I wouldn't be afraid to shave it off if the time comes. What I've got left doesn't look like my hair anymore and so maybe I would be happier without it? A constant battle in my mind. I am sure I will look back at the end of this and laugh about how I thought it was my hair that defined me and my identity. 

But for now I want to talk tips and tricks, what I’ve learnt about disguising my hair so far. Hopefully this will make the process easier for somebody else… Oh how I would have loved to read this blog post 2 months ago. 

Firstly, if you have got long hair, cut it short. There is no point in having long strands of hair all over your clothes when you could have short strands of hair all over your clothes?! Short hair also looks thicker than long. 

My hair is very thin around the front, and that was the first thing I noticed, so I got a fringe cut, which means I can pull hair from further back to cover the nasty thin part at the front… genius!! 

A fringe has also come in handy when wearing hats and turbans/ head scarfs. I went out once wearing a turban with none of my hair showing. It was daunting - I felt cancer-ish. So from then on I wore my fringe coming out of the turbans and hats (looks like a completely normal head of hair because you can't see my scalp). I will attach photos in the blog post of all of the different things I have tried out so far.

I do also have a gorgeous wig - which I have only had the balls to wear once!! I felt that people were looking at me and trying to work out if it was a wig or my own hair - it is probably a good sign that they had to look for so long to work it out, but even so, I did feel self conscious. The other thing to say is that it is uncomfortable, they're itchy and hot. I wore it to the shops and I was absolutely boiling, its a nightmare to try clothes on with too. 

I got my wig from the little princess trust, I had so many different options, real hair or acrylic, 100's of styles and colours. I chose to get a wig the same colour as my natural hair, but in the style of the bouncy blow dry I always longed for. I chose to get an acrylic wig because I felt that the real hair ones were so heavy and thick and looked so wiggish on my head. The acrylic one has far less hair and looked more like real hair than the real hair wig did? The wig also doesn't need styling, it will stay in the style it came in forever even when you wash it. I decided to get two wigs which were exactly the same because I was able to have more than one but I didnt like how any of the others looked on my head. I plan to get one of the wigs cut shorter, into a less glamorous style for a more every day look. I was warned that the wig will become tatty with lots of wear (because I chose acrylic), but as soon as this happens to just let the charity know and they will give me a new one straight away. 

I understand for some people that the only option is to wig it or wear a turban/ hat with no hair showing (because you have no hair) but I guess what I am trying to say is that I am glad that I held onto my hair for as long as possible. At first I vowed that as soon as it started falling out I would shave it off because I’d find the process too distressing, but I am so glad I didn't follow through with that because the longer I look normal (ish) the better!

My hair before any treatment

After hair cut off for The Little Princess Trust

Thinning hair at the front

 Fringe to disguise the thinning - slight bald patch at the top of my head

 My wig

Zara scarf

Hat from French Connection

 Search 'glitter turban' on ebay to find this and loads of other colours

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