Just over a year ago, Annette Fieltsch’s world was turned upside down.
The Victoria woman had a mole under her arm her entire life, but it wasn’t until recently that it started bothering her.
She went to the doctors to have it removed, only to learn that she had stage 4 melanoma in her lungs.
“It was a bit of a shock, I had heard of moles and getting them removed, but I honestly didn’t know that it could turn into melanoma,” said Fieltsch, who has two children.
“There’s honestly not even words to describe it. You’re just trying to function . . . you’re just in a dark daze for about a week.”
For the next few months, she received immunotherapy treatment, a treatment that uses your own body’s immune system to help fight cancer.
But throughout her battle, Fieltsch refused to go to any support groups.
“I feel like there’s lots of different parts of my life, I didn’t really want my focus to be cancer,” she said. “When they sit [in support groups], they ask you about your disease and I think ‘there’s so much more to me than that’.”
But when she heard about a workshop called Look Good Feel Better, she decided to try it out.
As part of the workshop, put on by the Beauty Gives Back Foundation, Fieltsch and roughly 30 other women suffering from cancer received a full make-up kit, had the opportunity to practice putting on makeup and received tips from professionals.
“It was nice to be in a room with people who you know are going through the same journey, but you don’t have to sit there and talk about it the whole time,” said Fieltsch, who is now in remission.
“It makes you feel lighter, it makes you feel happier, it makes you feel a bit more positive. It takes the focus off the difficult parts of the journey and puts the focus on what you can do.”
Tanya Slingsby, regional manager for B.C. with the foundation, said they help hundreds of women a year on Vancouver Island.
“There’s a very significant transition for most women who participate in the workshop,” she said.
“It’s more than just makeup, it’s a vehicle for them to interact with women who are going through a similar journey.”
The two-hour workshop runs twice a month at the Victoria Canadian Cancer Society (1537 Hillside Ave.) and the B.C. Cancer Agency Vancouver Island Centre (2410 Lee Ave). The next workshops are Tuesday, May 12 and Thursday, May 21. For more info, visit lookgoodfeelbetter.ca.