Things I Wish I’d Known Before #1 – Essential Chemo Handbag Kit

May as well face this head on: having chemotherapy can lead to some horrendously embarrassing beauty mishaps. When I was going through the worst of it not only was I bald; my nose ran all the time and also bled a little; my eyes leaked tears for want of eyelashes; my nails flaked; I turned lobster red with hot flushes; my digestive system was in turmoil; my lips and skin were dry and, on account of having no eyebrows, I looked like a space-baby from Mars. Keeping up appearances became a full time job and inevitably, when my painstakingly constructed mask of normality slipped it was always at the bus stop, in the supermarket or some other glaringly public place.

So, for your comfort and safety, I have devised the Chemo Chic essential handbag kit. Don’t leave home without it! 


Balm type, for runny nose and tearful eyes.


To hide behind.

Lip balm

Keep one in your handbag, one in the car, one beside your bed and one in your pocket. Hurraw raw, organic lip balm is the perfect consistency. The black cherry flavour adds a touch of pretty colour to a drained face (tip – use it on your cheeks as an emergency blusher).

Nostril moisturiser

The hairs inside your nose provide a great deal of protection to the nasal passages. When they fall out your nostrils can become sore and chapped. The ideal solution is a gel moisturiser. Green People’s Firming Eye Gel is ideal. It contains healing seaweed and soothing aloe vera. Just stick it up your nose with a clean pinky (or a cotton bud if you’re fernickety).

Hand sanitiser

With a compromised immune system, it is essential to protect yourself from pathogens as much as possible. Use a hand sanitiser regularly, preferably a natural one – try to avoid triclosan / triclocarban. Jurlique Moisturising Hand Sanitiser is not sticky and smells heavenly. Makes a welcome change from the antisceptic-smelling hospital variety.


In case of a wig emergency.

Water vapour spray

To keep your face hydrated. Pai lotus & orange blossom BioAffinty toner gives a luxurious smelling spritz but a regular old Evian one will do the job.

Folding fan

For hot flushes. Buy them in Spanish or Japanese shops.

Emery board

Nails become soft and split easily.

Wet wipes

In case of sweating or diarrhoea. Nature Babycare Eco Sensitive wipes are unscented and don’t contain any nasty chemicals.

A pair of knickers

For emergencies or, more likely, to mistakenly pull out and wipe your face with on the bus.

Hand cream

Because the hand sanitiser is quite drying and your nails will be ultra fragile. Weleda Skin Food is a rich, heavy duty cream for hands and feet.

Eyebrow pencil

No matter how skillfully you draw your eyebrows they are bound to rub off during the day. Inika organic brow pencils are soft and not waxy. Best of all they come with a sharpener built in to the lid, so you can always put the finest point on things.

Do you have a top cancer beauty tip? Please share it with the world.


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