When Caitlin Kiernan, former beauty editor at Life & Style Weekly, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2012 and began treatment, most people she told the news to reacted with surprise. She didn't look like how we expect a woman battling cancer to look — she didn't look sick.
"I knew I was blessed and lucky, but I never realized how truly lucky I was until I made it towards the end, still resembling a hint of myself," Kiernan tells Refinery29. That's when she gathered her resources, put pen to paper, and wrote Pretty Sick: The Beauty Guide For Women With Cancer, which launched last month.
In the book, Kiernan discusses her personal journey and shares advice from experts in the industry about what happens to your hair, skin, nails, and beauty routine after being diagnosed with cancer. "This is information that just isn't out there, and I want to make sure that every patient gets this information; it makes a huge difference in being able to go about your life and look and feel like your 'normal' self," Kiernan says.
Finding her "normal" wasn't easy; her life had been turned upside down. "Cancer is a health crisis," she says, "but it's also an identity crisis, because it takes away from you all the things that informed who you are to society: It takes away your hair, it takes away your breasts (in some cases), it totally changes your skin, it messes with your nails." Eventually, it was through beauty that she found her way back.
Ahead, she shares some of the beauty products that helped her through her journey — and remain favorites to this day.