Johanna is one woman with a story to inspire thousands.
When getting a routine breast cancer scan, she received every two years, doctors found a tumor in her right breast. The cancer had spread to the glands in her armpit. This began Johanna’s journey down the road of surgeries, chemotherapy and hair loss.
"The whole situation was new to me. I never needed anybody to help me. I was living alone after my husband died and now suddenly there were things I couldn't do anymore because of my illness.”
She ultimately needed two operations, the first was to take out the tumor and investigate the tissues. The second was to remove the glands in her armpit and upper arm. This alone was mentally and physically draining, and then the chemotherapy followed. Chemo lasted for six months, and 35 radiators followed. It’s hard to imagine how much strength it must have taken to endure such lengthy and excruciating treatments.
Even through all of the darkness, Johanna found blessings.
"There is a moment when I was undergoing chemotherapy when I thought the cure was going to kill me instead of the cancer itself. But just as I was losing it, my family came to France to visit me during Christmas time and my daughter told me she was, after trying for 8 years, pregnant! This for me was a sign to not lose all perspective and to go on and trust life again to be beautiful. When the family went home again, I was sure that I would do anything to fight the cancer because I realized that life has so much to offer if you only will see it. Sometimes it is right in front of you but you are too busy looking at all the things that went wrong or the things that made you unhappy.
So as soon as the condition of my skin allowed me to put on my make up again, I did and tried to look my best in order to go out and get my life back"
Johanna recalls trying on her first wig at a salon near the hospital. She decided to order a wig for the time she would be without hair.
“Everybody told me: you will lose your hair temporarily. It will grow back after you finish the chemotherapy and the radiations. So, I was confident that this wig was temporary too.
Of course I felt sad when they shaved the last remaining few hairs off my head in order to put on the wig. At first, I was very insecure. I thought everybody could see I was wearing a wig. But after a few weeks in which people told me how good I looked and they didn't notice it was a wig I was wearing, I got my confidence back.”
Within the first week of chemotherapy, she lost all of her hair, as well as her fingernails and toenails. After finishing treatments, her nails grew back, but her hair did not.
“I was shocked to learn after almost a year without my hair growing back, that I now had alopecia. The dermatologist did think that my own hair wouldn't grow back anymore. And so I landed in ‘wig world’ …I searched the internet for sites with good modern wigs, also suitable for completely bald heads. With lace fonts, handmade, and a completely smooth material inside the wig. And all this for a reasonable price. I was very lucky to find what I was looking for at the site of wigs.com.”
Johanna now embraces her wig wearing. And rightfully so, she looks stunning in them!
“I now have 2 wigs from Raquel Welch. A medium long hair one and a short hair one. I chose Heat Stylable Synthetic fibres. They stay in shape and are easy to wash and wear…I can change my look whenever I want. And though nobody notices the fact I am wearing a wig....I couldn't care less if they did notice. I am looking good.”
It’s stories like these from incredibly resilient and beautiful women like Johanna that inspire us all. In the face of adversity, Johanna chose the see the beauty. She did not give up hope and urges others to do the same.