Keeping Up Appearances:
When cancer changes your looks, the makeover starts inside, con't.
Wig or no wig? The answer is 'yes.'
"I bought an expensive wig, and wore it once," remembers Argyle. "I didn't like the feel of it." Instead, she chose to wear
a lightweight hat during the spring and summer months of her chemotherapy.
Muir, too, purchased a wig. "A $29 one," she laughs. She was concerned that her young grandchildren would be upset
by her bald head. The opposite proved true. "All three said, 'no -- take it off!'" To this day, the wig makes only occasional appearances --
atop the head of a statue of St. Francis, a sort-of patron saint in Muir's life.
To look your best, focus on feeling your best
For Argyle, feeling better meant getting back to her normal activities, and for that, she turned first to the experts at
, part of the U-M Health System's Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. There, she was professionally
fitted with a prosthetic bra, as well as a compression sleeve to relieve the symptoms of lymphedema and help her maintain
her arm strength.
"They suggested I wear it when exercising and when out in the sun, but eventually I decided to wear it all the time," Argyle says.
Kate Muir's St. Francis statue watches over her in her art studio. When Muir
decided not to wear her wig, St. Francis inherited it.
Her other suggestion for people who have had a mastectomy: Make the most of physical therapy and therapeutic massage. "The process helps you
heal more smoothly and move more easily," she notes. Massage sessions and the use of special tape keep muscles working correctly and help prevent
adhesions, caused when tissue sticks to the chest wall.
Step in front of the camera
A rather unexpected coping tool came Muir's way when a family member told her about the Oldham Project. Based in the Lansing
area, this nonprofit is dedicated to providing free portrait sessions to people with life-threatening illnesses.
A photo shoot may sound stressful, but photographer Terri Shaver makes sure it's just the opposite. In a studio filled with
music, flowers and candles, she encourages her subjects to relax, and with compassion and a keen artist's eye, she zeros in on the
beauty in every face.
After snapping the first picture, Muir recalls, "she turned the camera around and showed me, saying, 'Look at you, you're
beautiful.'" The experience was transformative for Muir, allowing her to focus on her inner "warrior princess," rather than her illness. "It
was an opportunity to nudge cancer back into its corner," she says.
Get additional information on our Keeping Up Appearances Resources web page.
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