This year I was more prepared.
This year I was more emotionally prepared.
The first time I was asked to support an evening at the Breast Clinic in St James’ hospital in Leeds, I had to make several trips to the bathroom to hold my nerve, dry my eyes, take several deep breaths. The first time the Breast Clinic held their pamper evening a couple of years ago, only a few people attended and the nurses brought out patients from the ward. Speaking to these few women took my breathe away… their stories of strength and resilience, their tales of their families and life.
Tonight, the Clinic, and I were far more prepared. It was an incredible event this evening, the objective to provide an informal evening where patients, families and staff could enjoy many treatments from Reiki and massage to having their nails done and a complete makeover. It was a fun evening with a glass of something nice and something sweet to eat.
I was invited by one of my closest friends, also my business partner and one of the Consultant Oncoplastic Surgeons in the Leeds Breast Clinic.
Tonight, we lay out our skincare ranges, our cosmetic cases and our brushes and we welcomed ladies in to our treatment room.
It soon became abundantly clear that the evening wasn’t just about pampering… That was just a very clever ruse… a clever disguise.. it was an evening for these ladies and families to relax, to ask questions, share their stories, bond with those treating with them, bond with other patients….
Some of the ladies, as they sat down in my ‘hot seat’… were visibly nervous, trembling, shy… none of them were wearing make-up.
As I lay my hands on their faces and gently massaged beautiful, fresh smelling products in to their skin, I asked them questions quietly about their family, their children, their animals… I told them about mine.
As I lay my hands on their faces, and gave them colour in their cheeks, eyebrows and lashes, I felt them soften, I felt them relax.
As I lay my hands on their faces, they shared their story. They shared their cancer story… they shared how their friends reacted, how their work place responded. They shared how they felt. They shared their fear.
As I lay my hands on their faces, they shared their strength. They shared their dreams for the future, their plans for Christmas.
As I lay my hands on their faces, they asked my friend questions about the future treatments, what would happen next, possible outcomes…
As I lay my hands on their faces, they began to smile, they began to laugh…
As they walked out of our room, they walked a little taller, a little straighter, with a little more confidence.
And the confidence didn’t come from the makeover.