Guidebook offers fashion tips, support to women with cancer
To help women with cancer through the emotional part of recovery, two Pittsburgh women created a magazine-style guidebook to offer tips, advice and options.
For the past nine years, Lisa Lurie — a cancer survivor — has been dedicated to empowering other women dealing with the effects of the disease through her website, Cancer Be Glammed.
Now, with the launch of a chic, 70-page guidebook called “Cancer Be Glammed, Recover in Style,” Lurie hopes to place resources, tips and style solutions literally into the hands of cancer patients immediately following diagnosis.
When a woman is diagnosed with cancer things can start happening very quickly, according to Lurie, who was diagnosed with breast cancer 10 years ago at the age of 47. While medical needs are usually met swiftly, emotional needs are sometimes put on the back burner.
“I had two weeks between my diagnosis and my double mastectomy,” she explained. “After you are diagnosed, you are thrown into a spin cycle, and there is no time to really prepare for when you wake up after the surgery and look at yourself and say, ‘How am I going to move on from here?’”
Lurie intends for her new guidebook, co-authored by Maureen Kelly Busis, to prime women ahead of time for the devastating physical effects of cancer, surgery and other treatments. (Busis is the wife of Chronicle CEO and Publisher Jim Busis.)
“I co-founded Cancer Be Glammed to empower women facing all forms of cancer to recover with dignity, self-esteem, and personal style,” Lurie said.
Lurie launched Cancer Be Glammed along with her close friend, the late Ellen Weiss Kander, who had been on hand to help Lurie search for practical and fashionable recovery products after her cancer diagnosis and treatment. When they realized how hard it was to find stylish solutions, they founded their own website as a forum to curate products that would provide women with a variety of choices that would help them feel good about themselves.
Kander passed away in 2012 from liver cancer, but Lurie has continued the mission of Cancer Be Glammed. She has recently relaunched the website — which also offers helpful blogs and opportunities for interactive engagement with others in the cancer community — as well as a channel on YouTube.
“Our goal is not to tell women to dress a certain way,” said Lurie. “Our goal is to give them options.”
The new guidebook mirrors a more typical fashion magazine, but with sections geared to women whose style needs have been affected by hair loss, mastectomies, weight fluctuations or other concerns related to cancer and its treatments. There is a section on “8 Great Head Scarf Tips,” for example, and another titled “Radiation Couture.”
The book also addresses how to prepare for surgery, options for post-op recovery clothes, and skin care tips, along with many pages devoted to hair loss.
All the models in “Cancer Be Glammed, Recover in Style” are cancer survivors, Lurie noted.
“Physical care isn’t enough,” Lurie stressed. “We want to empower women to emotionally recover.”
She hopes to have her guidebook available in hospitals and treatment centers so that women can be connected with these resources soon after diagnosis.
“It is designed in part as a tool for oncology nurses,” Lurie said. “They are usually the first point of contact. I would ask my oncology nurse, but she couldn’t really advise me when my hair fell out about wig options and scarves. A woman needs something immediately when she is diagnosed or facing new treatment.”
She is hopeful that the booklet will be seen as “uplifting and useful,” and that Cancer Be Glammed will be “changing the culture around cancer recovery.”
Former Pittsburgher and breast cancer survivor Wendy Kramer is an active contributor on Cancer Be Glammed and is a fan of its products and resources.
“Cancer Be Glammed is wonderful,” she said, adding that the site provided “assistance and companionship through dealing with my cancer diagnosis, the treatments, and afterwards.”
Through the blogs, Kramer said, she was able to connect with other women who shared in her experiences. And because the products are curated specifically for the cancer community, searching for items is much easier than “going through Google,” she said. “When you are going through chemo, you just don’t have the energy.”
Kramer even has been able to find fashionable lymphedema sleeves on the site.
“There are lots of cool prints and different colors,” she said. “It kind of cheers you up.”
The guidebook can be purchased online at cancerbeglammed.com. PJC
Toby Tabachnick can be reached at email@example.com.