Chapter 25 – A Makeover and a Birthday

We were born to be real not to be perfect – Anon

An article in a health magazine caught my eye in early 2008. I had decided to start buying this magazine as I was on an er health drive. I am sure a lot of people do similar things after cancer – start buying juicing books, juicers, organic food etc. While I didn’t go madly down that route, I was trying to be more mindful of health and building up strength. So the article in the magazine was all about life makeovers. I liked the sound of a complete life makeover so I applied. There must be something about the way I write for competitions because I won the first prize again. This is what they planned for me:

  • A meeting with a life coach to discuss where I was in my career
  • A meeting with a life therapist to discuss how I was in my life
  • A session of teeth whitening with a cosmetic dentist
  • Membership of Curves gym
  • A session of non-invasive plastic surgery treatments
  • A complete makeover to include hair and make up
  • A shopping trip with a personal shopper for clothes and shoes to the value of €500
  • A photo shoot to capture all of the above for the magazine.

Now unfortunately the entirety of the package did not go to plan. I should have had all the sessions before the makeover but the magazine personnel messed me around and kept moving and changing the dates. So the only thing that happened before the makeover and shopping day was the teeth-whitening. I was thrilled with the results as my teeth had been discoloured by the chemo and the effects of vomiting.

The makeover day itself was great fun. I had my hair done first thing in a top salon in Dublin. They were all really nice and I had a photographer following all the action. You know the absolute worst time to have you picture taken is when you are half way through a hair appointment – well that’s the sort of pic that was being taken.

Makeover 9

Then it was off to Debenhams to meet a personal shopper. We walked around the shop together and she picked loads of clothes that I knew would look horrible on me, but I went with it. We took them back to the changing room and I tried them on and they were ridiculous. So, we took another walk around and this time I picked the clothes that I knew would suit me. We took them back to the changing room and they were perfect (if I do say so myself).

I also found this amazing pair of boots and my one regret was that I didn’t opt to keep them or buy them myself.

Makeover 8
These boots were made for walking

After the shopping it was time for make-up and I was taken down to a salon near the FHQ building where they worked wonders with my skin and added layers of war paint for the photos. The photographer was around for the foundation level of make-up too – again the worst time for taking pics!

Makeover 1
Getting the war paint on

Then it was time for the photo shoot which was a little nerve-wrecking as he was asking me to pose this way and that way. I am no model but I decided to just go for it and I was really thrilled with the photos. He assured me there was no need for photo-shopping. When I saw the photos as tiny thumbnail images on the screen of his camera I was amazed at how healthy I looked. It was as though the pain, trauma and stress of the last year had all melted away from my face. When I looked at the photos side by side – taken a calendar year apart – I was stunned. How had I come back from being so ill? Even today I can’t quite believe that I pulled through.

Makeover 6S/W Ver: 85.92.70R

Makeover 6

Makeover 4
Very posed
Makeover 5
A cheeky smile

I love having these photos of the makeover as a reminder to me of how far I have come in getting back to health.

As for the rest of the sessions as part of the prize:

  • I was too scared to do anything about cosmetic treatments or botox as I have enough poison from chemo in my body
  • I went to the life career coach and I left after 10 minutes.
  • I never went to the life counsellor.
  • The curves gym session was too comedic for me and I knew I would most likely kill myself running between machines, so I went back to swimming instead.

I loved the makeover and the clothes I was able to keep. I am delighted I won such a lovely prize. I bought the magazine a few more times but it ceased publication a few months later. I also bought a juicer and a juice book and I try to be more health conscious than I was before ……but I’m not a food saint at all.

From time to time I think of those boots …….

Happy 40th Birthday to Me

2008, my year of returning to work and to my life came to an end with my 40th birthday party. We had 50/60 family and friends in the house and it was wonderful. It was much more than a 40th birthday party – I had a house full of people who were there to celebrate my life…….

When everyone had left in the early hours of the morning and the house was quiet again, I sat down with a glass of bubbly and a slice of my cake and had a toast to another 40 years. I’m probably being overly ambitious but who knows…

So please save the date for my 80th birthday party on 29 November 2048!

Brenda Birthday

Brenda cake


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