From cancer diagnosis to charity champion: an inspiring story of community and kindness

Meet Gail Chisholm, a talented netball player and cancer survivor who is using her love for the game to give back to others going through cancer treatment.

Gail is taking part and supporting the Look Good Feel Better (LGFB) charity tournament, delivered in collaboration with England Netball, at Warwick University on 26 March 2023. She hopes as many teams as possible will join in the fun and help make a difference for those affected by cancer.

After being diagnosed with cancer in 2018, Gail was introduced to Look Good Feel Better, a national charity that runs confidence-boosting workshops to support those going through cancer treatment. Workshops are led by trained volunteers in the beauty industry and provide practical advice about changes to skin, eyebrows, eyelashes, hair, nails and body confidence. Volunteers in the health industry also lead well-being focused workshops covering meditation, breathwork and gentle exercise to help reduce feelings of isolation and anxiety. Every single one offers an invaluable opportunity to meet others going through a similar situation.

Finding solace and support through the Look Good Feel Better workshops, Gail was so inspired by the experience that she now hosts its ‘Styling for Confidence workshops’, offering advice and support to others with cancer. Through her resilience, compassion and adoration for netball, Gail is making a powerful impact on the lives of others. Here is her story.

“I found a lump in 2018 and was diagnosed at 42, which is actually quite young – it’s that weird thing that you’re mid-forties and you’re young for some things and then old for other things.

“There was a big waiting period while I was scanned head to toe to find out the extent of my cancer as they knew it was in my lymphatic system. That was when I went to the cancer centre at Western General Hospital in Edinburgh and spoke to one of the support workers from the Look Good Feel Better charity.

“I was still waiting for final confirmation on my diagnosis, but I knew I would be going through chemotherapy so Look Good Feel Better recommended that I book onto their Skincare and Makeup workshop to help me feel prepared for some of the physical changes I might experience during treatment. It was all brand new to me and obviously pretty confronting, but they delivered the workshop really well.

“People attend diagnosed with all different types of cancer, at different stages of their treatment. You get to sit, relax and spend a couple of hours with a professional teaching you how to look after your skin, but also giving you the cancer perspective and the impact of the treatment because it does have such a physical impact on you. The advice given during the workshop was really useful and practical.

“There were people who hadn’t really used make-up before. When going through chemotherapy, your skin tone changes, you can lose your hair, sometimes you’ve no eyelashes, no eyebrows, which can impact on how your features are defined. You don’t realise beforehand, that things like your eyelashes and nasal hairs are so important. They stop your eyes and your nose constantly running. There are lots of physical changes that, with the right advice and support, can be managed.

“The workshop was also a great laugh and an uplifting experience – Look Good Feel Better workshops really do what they say on the tin!

“When you are diagnosed, you think it shouldn’t matter what you look like and you question whether it’s being superficial – should it matter if I have my eyebrows on or not? But it really does, and the workshops help you feel more like yourself.

“As a stylist I now help to run the Look Good Feel Better ‘Styling for Confidence workshops’. We help people reconnect with their identity or come to terms with how they look at that particular time. I take great joy in it and not just from delivering the sessions but also supporting other women who are going through a similar experience to my own. And it’s really given me my confidence back as a stylist after my treatment.

“I was thrilled to be asked to represent Look Good Feel Better’s upcoming charity netball tournament in March. I’m hoping to get a team down to Warwick University from Scotland to compete. The Netball Family really helped me while I was going through treatment. I’m heavily involved in the sport up here – I’m the president of the City of Edinburgh Netball Association where we have a league of about 50 teams, plus a thriving junior league as well. I umpire and play when I can but I do more coaching these days too!

“Look Good Feel Better has been such an amazing support for me and for so many others. I would love to see as many people as possible taking part in the tournament and showing their support for this wonderful charity.”

Register your own team into the tournament and find out more about the charity and their support services at lookgoodfeelbetter.co.uk.

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