Living with cancer and going through treatment is an emotional and physical journey. Most of us will experience a huge range of emotions during this time, and we may often find ourselves swinging from feeling positive and calm to feelings of grief, anxiety or depression - or somewhere in the middle!

This is completely normal, and something many people will recognise. It’s important not to give yourself a hard time about not always feeling positive or confident. Emotional ups and downs often work to help us process the complex changes that are happening, and it’s not always helpful or practical to be constantly told to “stay positive”. 

Alongside inevitable moments of feeling down, there will also be laughter, joy, excitement and calm. It’s a rollercoaster, but we’re here to help you live better throughout your entire journey and beyond. 


Tips to boost confidence when living with cancer


Everyone, no matter what the circumstances have days when they just don’t feel themselves. When you’re living with cancer, that’s no different and can sometimes feel even more extreme. 

It can be common to experience a loss of confidence when living with cancer or going through treatment. Especially if you notice visible physical changes to your appearance that affect how you see yourself. Potential weight gain or loss, hair loss, changes to skin or loss of breasts can all have an impact on not just physical health, but how you’re feeling emotionally. There is no “one size fits all” advice to deal with this, but there are things you can try to help boost your confidence. 

With one in two people in the UK likely to be living with cancer at some point in their lives, you’re not alone. There is now a whole market catering for all kinds of different aspects and challenges of cancer and its treatment. Here we explore just a few of the things that have helped to boost the confidence of our community, as well as products and tips to help you feel better. 


Boost confidence and mental well-being

Being diagnosed with, living with cancer or going through treatment is a life changing experience. It’s bound to have an emotional impact and it’s normal to experience a range of emotions. 

You may go through stages of grief, anger, fear and anxiety yet also experience moments of feeling determined, optimistic and motivated. None of the emotions you may experience are right or wrong, bad or good, and it’s important to allow yourself to process things in your own way. But if or when you find yourself experiencing overwhelming emotions that are having an impact on your day-to-day life, it can help to talk or connect with others. 

Speak with your care team about the support that’s available to you. You can also contact organisations like Macmillan cancer support and Tenuous cancer care, as well as your local GP who will be able to refer you to a qualified professional experienced in supporting people in similar situations.

The Samaritans phone lines are also open 24/7 if you ever need to talk to someone day or night. 

Connecting with others going through similar experiences can also be a source of comfort. On the Live Better With Community Forum you can get practical advice and support, as well as somewhere where you can say what’s on your mind.


Other things you could try to help you feel better are: 


  • Spending time outdoors. Time spent in nature is proven to have a positive impact on mental health. If you can, go for walks outdoors, spend time in the garden or anything that brings you closer to nature.

  • Exercise. If you’re able to participate in any kind of exercise from low impact stretching to higher intensity sports, this can help raise your serotonin levels and boost your mood. 

  • Spending time with friends and family. This isn’t always easy, especially as some friends may find it difficult to find the right words or you feel they may not understand. Stick to spending time with the people who make you feel good. 


Body Confidence Tips

It’s normal for bodies to go through changes during cancer treatment, whether that’s from weight gain or loss, muscle appearance or surgery. Sometimes this can affect body confidence which may or may not have been an issue before diagnosis or treatment. 


Things to try


There are lots of things you can do to take extra good care of your body during this time, including exercising. Eating well can also help to ensure you’re taking in the vitamins and nutrients your body needs to stay healthy and feel better from the inside out.

If you’ve had surgery and still have visible scarring,  Live Better With Scar Massage Oil can help to reduce the appearance of these scars.



Skin Confidence Tips

Cancer treatments like chemo and radiotherapy can make skin feel uncomfortable, dry, flaky and less elastic. If your skin needs a little extra care before you’re ready to put on or even think about makeup - there are a few things you can try to help give your skin a boost. 


Things to try


Live Better With Gel Eye Mask can be used to reduce puffiness around the eye area. It also cools down hot flushes, soothes radiotherapy treated skin and headaches.

Defiant Beauty Cleanse and Moisturise Balm beautiful skin starts with your cleanser. And this gentle cleansing balm is specially made for anyone undergoing chemo or radiotherapy. Created to clean the skin without stripping its natural barrier, this is perfect for sensitive or dry skins. 

Aveeno Stress Relief Body Moisturiser is designed to calm and soothe irritated, dry skin whilst the delicate fragrance soothes and calms your mood. 


Hair Loss Confidence Tips

Losing hair on our heads and faces can be one of the most challenging stages of cancer treatment. As it’s such an instantly obvious visual change to our appearance, it can take a while to get used to. And although this change could be temporary, it can still leave you feeling less confident. 


Luckily there are all kinds of things you can do to boost your confidence when it comes to hair loss. 

Hats and scarves 

Men


As well as changing your appearance, losing hair can make the scalp more sensitive to temperature changes. 

These products work to keep the scalp comfortable and look good too: Men’s Bold Beanie

Women

Hats, scarves and turbans are perfect if you want something a little lighter and easier just to throw on. There is a huge choice of patterns and styles for all kinds of occasions, from looking chic at the beach to heading down to the shops. 

Silk, bamboo, merino and other natural materials ensure the skin on your head can breath, stays cool but also doesn’t get cold. A few popular styles include:


This stylish but soft bamboo bow hat 

A beautiful silk headscarf with a bamboo band

These patterned hats from Chemo Beanies 


All are easy to put on, light and perfect for wearing out or just around the house. 


I had a lot of fun with my friend shopping for hats and scarves down at M&S. I cried laughing that day.” - Lou, Live Better With Community Member.


Wigs


Wigs aren’t for everyone, but they can be a huge confidence boost if they make you feel more “normal.”  


I bought a beautiful wig that is my natural colour and style (only the wig is a way better blowout than I could do). I started chemo yesterday but have been wearing the wig for a week when I go out. Most people don’t even know it’s a wig. I don’t want to identify or look like I am sick.” - Live Better With Community Member


There is a huge range of realistic wigs available now that are more realistic and more comfortable than ever before. You can match them closely with your own hair and hairstyle, or go for something completely different. Have you always wanted to know what you’d look like as a blonde? Or maybe wondered about having a fringe cut? Now’s the time to find out. 

The Prince’s Trust also make wigs for children who have lost their hair, made from real hair donations. 


Hair boosting and conditioning products

Hair can sometimes feel coarser or thinner than it was before as it starts to grow back. If you have kept your hair during your treatment, you may notice it’s more brittle than it was before.


Avoiding harsh chemicals that could irritate your skin and hair follicles is important during this time, but you can still treat your hair to some extra nourishing care!


Things to try


This Hair Growth Kit uses scalp-friendly, clinically tested products that help encourage hair growth and improve the hair’s strength post-treatment.


Lindens Biotin vitamins for hair growth. Biotin supports keratin production to support and encourage healthy hair growth. 


Paxman chemo shampoo and conditioner if you’re using a cooling cap during your treatment to help prevent hair loss. 


There is a whole range of reviewed treatments and products that you can check out on the Live Better With shop here.


Makeup Confidence Tips 


During treatment, you may also lose hair from your eyelashes and eyebrows. Although makeup can be a great confidence boost, you may find that the products you used to use irritate you. This can be because, during treatment, your skin may become more sensitive, dry or prone to breakouts. So, choosing the right makeup can make a big difference. 


Our Live Better With community has a dedicated thread for makeup tips with videos from professional makeup artists (*you may wish to embed this video instead as the thread is old)


Things to try


Defiant Beauty Brush a Brow is a highly pigmented powder and wax that can be used to replace eyebrows lost to chemo or provide a bit more definition to brows that are growing back.


Defiant Beauty Colour Corrector is a mineral makeup that helps to brighten and revive skin that’s feeling a little discoloured or sallow.