Melissa’s Story

“Cancer is horrible but at least once a week I have something fun to do”

Melissa's Story

Melissa Mayer often wonders how she has survived after pumping her full of poison intended to kill the cancer in her body.

She was diagnosed with triple breast cancer and her “whole world came crashing down”.

The Hawkes Bay grandmother went from being a busy grandmother, to almost a recluse in her own home as she tried to protect herself from everyday viruses because she was immunocompromised.

Her daughter Nicola lives five hours away, and felt helpless. So she started researching support groups to help Melissa, 69, and that is how she found out about Look Good Feel Better, a free programme for anyone with any cancer at any stage.

“Look Good Feel Better gives me something to do, And I didn’t have to be on my own and feel sorry for myself,” she says.

She signed up for the signature skincare and make-up session – an online class that is made possible through the support of people fundraising during Dry July – and was in awe of all the products she was sent, hand-selected for her complexion and skin type. Then Melissa took advantage of other online sessions, choosing to stay home to protect herself during treatment.

It was a window into a normal world and something she looked forward to.

“Every Monday’s blood, every Wednesday’s chemo – and then from there, it’s downhill to the next Wednesday. But in between that I can have my makeup classes or my eyebrow classes or my exercise. 

“At least once a week I had a class where I had something fun to do, it’s just given me a bit of a lease of life,” she says.

“And all these people that give up their time, and they are so patient and they’re so knowledgeable. Even the people giving the classes have been through it. So they know what you’ve been through, or what you go through.”

Dry July has been instrumental in Look Good Feel Better being able to evolve and grow its programme to ensure it remains available anywhere at any time. Sessions include online classes such as the signature skincare and make-up through to nail care, chair yoga, gentle Pilates, and styling with confidence. There are also expert Q&A sessions and how-to videos and podcasts, that have received funding from Dry July.

“It’s a horrible shitty thing – cancer and the chemo. I just want to get rid of this cancer,” Melissa says. “With Look Good Feel Better you can see people coming through it and surviving. It has given me a bit of hope.”

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