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Magnificent Makeovers In conjunction with Breast Cancer awareness month

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Today we give not one, but two deserving ladies a makeover to help them feel more confident, feel better about how they look and feel strong enough to take on the world!

Nicola and Deirdre are both Breast Cancer survivors and will be made over today by some of Ireland's top experts including Gary Kavanagh, Bairbre Power and Donna Fitzpatrick.

Our lovely ladies are:

Nicola Elmer:
Nicola (40) is originally from South Africa but lives here now with her husband, who is also South African.

She has just turned 40 and has been 5 years clear of BC.

When she first found the lump, cancer was the last thing on Nicola's mind. At home in South Africa, she went to her GP, who suggested a routine mammogram. Her doctor called her back into hospital for a lumpectomy and it was soon after this that she discovered the lump was, in fact, cancerous. She hadn't brought her husband with her to the appointment as she hadn't thought it was that serious.

She was bowled over completely by the news and simply couldn't digest it. When she told her husband, he was terribly supportive and only a week later she had a mastectomy to remove her left breast. When the wound had healed she went into intensive chemotherapy treatment, which Nicola found quite difficult. Possibly the worst part of this was the hair loss. Although she knew it was coming, she was devastated when it happened. Her husband was great though and having helped her to shave her hair off, they opened a bottle of wine and laughed about it. It was all they could do.

They have no children, but cancer is always a worry, even though she's now 5 years clear.1 year after the initial surgery, Nicola had a saline implant in her left breast. At the same time she had a reduction of her right breast so they now match. She jokes that this will be the only benefit of the whole thing- that when she's older, she'll still have perky boobs!

Her hair, when it did come back, grew back curly at first and the colour was lighter. She's now started to go grey though, which she's not thrilled about and feels like a bit of a lift as she begins her new life at 40!

Our Second make-over candidate is:

Deirdre Sexton
Deirdre is 47 and finished her cancer treatment in 2005. She'll be finished with all meds in 2010 and just can't wait.

Deirdre had a rare but aggressive form of Breast Cancer known as inflammatory BC, which only accounts for about 1-4% of Breast cancers. She noticed she had an inverted nipple and her breast was red & hot, so she went straight to her doctor, who thankfully sent her for a check in a clinic even though he suspected it was just an infection.

Deirdre waited 6 weeks (public health) for her appointment with a consultant and by this stage the dimpling had got much worse and her breast had become much redder. She then went for a mammogram and ultrasound with confirmed that she had inflammatory cancer, they also found a lump. Dee had been for a mammogram herself barely 6 months prior and nothing had come up..

Deirdre was put on 8 sessions of chemotherapy and then had a mastectomy, which is the other way round for some BCs. She feels that the 5 months before the operation gave her a chance to get her head around the whole thing and made it easier to have her breast removed. As she was going to have to be put on a waiting list for her surgery, Deirdre opted for using her health insurance and was treated immediately.
The fact that she could physically see the cancer in the breast- redness dimpling etc - it made her want to get rid of it.

Deirdre says it's tough being single as it's when you're by yourself in the dark at night that it really hits you. Whilst her friends & family are wonderful, being single can be difficult, particularly having had surgery to remove your breast.

But she's a really positive person by nature and tried all the while to remain upbeat. Another 6 sessions of chemo followed and 25 sessions of radio therapy before beginning a long series of different drugs, including Oestrogen suppressants.
Deirdre found the support in hospital great and because you're receiving treatment for such a long time, you feel wrapped in cotton wool. When you're finished your treatment, you feel a little like you're being kicked out into the cold. For this reason, Deirdre became a member of the Irish Cancer Society's Reach for Recovery programme, which she finds a wonderful support network. It's great to have people to relate to and who understand exactly what you're talking about.

Time is a great healer and Deirdre has stopped trying to get "back to normal" but understands that there is now a new normal. She will never be able to go back. She finds that gradually she worries less and less about every ache and pain and that she had these before she was ever sick.

In terms of her appearance, Deirdre says the drugs have wreaked havoc on her skin & hair, some more so than others. Her hair, she feels is dry and in bad condition. She only recently had it cut short as it was in such bad nick. The drugs, Dee feels, have really dried it out.

Dee also hates the black circles under her eyes, which she puts down to being tired a lot. She wears glasses ordinarily but does wear lenses going out. She likes to feel like she's made an effort.

Dee has a funny story about why she hasn't yet had reconstruction:- When she had her initial consultation with the plastic surgeon, he/she said - "we'd never be able to build it up to be that big!" meaning the size of her other breast - Deirdre is a size 42G. She did think about having them both "lobbed off" and two smaller, perkier boobs put in their place but naturally enough, the surgeon wouldn't consider taking off her healthy breast..

Deirdre's positive mental attitude is really quite inspirational.

Our Style team are:

Gary Kavanagh - Hair stylist to the stars

Gary Kavanagh is undoubtedly one of Irelands best known hairdressers. He works constantly in the world of fashion and creates many of the fab looks in our Glossy mags. He has worked with most of the Supermodels, like Naomi Campbell, Helena Christensen, Christy Turlington, Sophie Dahl, and all of Irelands top models . Gary is regular face on our television screens, and is considered by many as the Master of "Make-overs ".
Gary is kept very busy, dividing his time between looking after his many clients at Peter Mark, and looking after the tresses of many of our best known celebrities.
Gary is constantly in demand by many of our visiting celebs, and has worked with them all, from Kylie, to Westlife, Girls Aloud, Denise van Outen, the list goes on. . . .Gary currently is based at Peter Mark as their Creative Director, and is responsible for the development of their up and coming young talent.

Bairbre Power - Super Stylist
Bairbre Power has been a regular on the Afternoon Show, giving fashion advice , styling and pinpointing trends.
She is notorious for her love of finding bargains for AS viewers, whether its in New York or on the Irish high street,
Editor of the Weekend magazine at the Irish Independent where she writes a weekly column, Bairbre also styles shoots .
From a front row seat at London and Paris fashion weeks, she reports on trends and fast-forward looks.
A busy mother of two, her work has taken her as far afield as Australia and California to report on fashion and she has interviewed all the top designers and style icons , from Christian Louboutin to John Rocha , Gok Wan to Dita Von Teese.
She can be contacted at

Donna Fitzpatrick- Make- Up guru

Donna Fitzpatrick MBA, MA, B.Sc. (Trinity College Dublin) CIBTAC
Creative and dynamic, Donna has amassed almost two decade's experience in the international cosmetics arena, where she experienced both the creative and business side of the industry.
Donna has trained as a make- up artist in New York, London and Milan. She built her reputation in New York where she worked as a chief make- up artist for Laura Mercier for the tri- state area, working on seasonal looks and various special events and promotions. She was also on the creative team of Estée Lauder New York, where she trained the national trainers and make- up artists of one of the largest make- up houses in the world.
While in New York, she worked alongside the world masters including François Nars (launching his brand at Saks 5th Avenue), Laura Mercier (at Laura Mercier launches and promotions) and Bobbi Brown (at various couture shows), indeed even being personally trained by Laura Mercier and François Nars.
She has acquired vast experience as a runway make- up artist and her list of famous cosmetic conquests include supermodel Tyra Banks and many other well- known models at New York couture shows, such as Donna Karen, Dana Buckman and Isaac Mizarhi.
Donna played a key part in launching Nars Cosmetics in Saks of 5th Avenue and also the global launch of Estée Lauder's Pleasures for Men.
Upon returning to Ireland she took residency as manager of Bobbi Brown in Brown Thomas. She has done the make- up for numerous magazine covers, including Rosanna Davison, Glenda Gilson, Kathryn Thomas, Fran Gosgrave, Ryan Tubridy, Craig Doyle and a host of other Irish models, celebrities, TV presenters and actresses. She has been a beauty broadcaster with a regular slot on the Orla Barry Show and has appeared on the Afternoon Show and Off the Rails. She has written numerous hair and beauty features for newspapers, magazines and Internet sites, such as consumer magazine iBeauty, The Star Newspaper, Salon Ireland and Irish Beauty,, and She is currently the beauty editor of Glow*.


1. Starter Mastectomy Bra with prosthesis.
This is a front fastening bra, perfect for those who might struggle to reach round to the back post surgery. €49.95

2. Black lace bra with 'V' insert.
This is a great bra for ladies who are concerned about scarring on their chest as the insert comes up higher than a regular bra. It also gives ladies a little extra security as they don't feel their top is too low and scarring is on show. €49.95

3. Black Bra with matching Cami. This bra is great for ladies to wear under a cardigan as the matching cami gives that added coverage. This bra is underwired, which is not suited to those who have just had surgery, but perhaps for about a year after surgery. This gives better definition to the bust area. The "donna" bra from Amoena is €37

4. The lumpectomy bra is almost like a padded bra that gives a really even effect to ladies who have undergone surgery to remove part of their breast. There is no prosthesis in this bra, but it serves to even out the breasts. €30

5. Another lumpectomy bra is specific to ladies who have had surgery under their arm. €49.95

6. There will also be both silicone (€102) and foam prostheses on the table.

7. Swimsuits are very important for women who have undergone surgery as they are encouraged to swim on a regular basis to build up the muscles around and under their arms. The ladies who have gone through chemotherapy also tend to encounter hot flushes and so don't tend to holiday in the summer but in the winter instead. Bairbre will have a mastectomy swimsuit with her also in lime green, €80.

Nicola is wearing:
Earrings €49 from Gemini
Dress, €330 and Sequinned cardigan, €510 by Jaeger at Arnotts
Shoes, €93 Nine West

A big thank you to Jaeger for supplying us with Nicola's dress

Deirdre is wearing:
Dress €109 and jacket €39 , (reduced) at Windsmoor
Van Dal shoes €70
Bag €125 and gloves €55 , both from Precis
Braclet €64 from Gemini

A big thank you to Windsmoor for supplying us with Deirdre's dress & wrap

With sincere thanks to Noirín Reilly,
O'Hara's Pharmacy

14-16 Aungier St, Redmonds Hill, Dublin 2
Phone 01 4760680
Fax 01 4053888