Defy Cancer by Redefining Yourself

In 2017, Look Good Feel Better honored actress Krysta Rodriguez at its annual BeautyCares DreamBall, the beauty industry’s philanthropic event that honors industry leaders, legends, heroes, advocates and survivors in support of LGFB. Krysta’s public battle with breast cancer played out before our very eyes. She not only inspired us with her cancer-meets-high-fashion blog, she also played a television character undergoing cancer treatment onscreen while simultaneously undergoing similar treatment in her real life. Krysta’s unvarnished honesty is rivaled only by her infectious energy and passion for life. She has been a staunch advocate for the Look Good Feel Better program and the people it serves. Today, we are honored as she shares and reflects on her story and cancer journey and are grateful for her continued support:

Defy Cancer by Redefining Yourself

By Krysta Rodriguez
Actress and 2017 Look Good Feel Better “DreamGirl”

It’s hard to imagine that it has been almost seven years since my breast cancer diagnosis. It feels like a lifetime ago. And it feels like just yesterday.

Emotions came in waves. Fear. Anxiety. A deep sadness that I was somehow hurting others in my life because I had cancer. Like: I was making my parents suffer so much worrying about me!  Yes, cancer really does affect more than just your internal organs. It is a whole mind and body disease, and it affects those closest to you.

For someone like me, harboring childhood dreams of a life in the spotlight and blessed with the good fortune to see those dreams come true, a breast cancer diagnosis was not in the script. At just 30 years old, I was focused on doing the work that I love: singing, directing, acting – putting on makeup and costumes to take on different personas and personalities.

Cancer forced me to confront who Krysta really was.

Was I going to be the tough fighter who always gets back up off the mat? The fearless adventurer who’s not afraid of what lurks behind the next dark corner? The rebellious youth who swims furiously against the tide, defying all conventions and expectations?

Turns out, I was a little bit of all of them. 

Unlike most people, I lived my cancer journey in front of cameras, having been cast as a cancer patient going through chemotherapy for a TV series, while I was going through chemotherapy in real life. I’d be on set one day, connected to fake machines and wearing makeup to give me that chemo-pallor under the lights, only to be in my real chemo room the following day: no stage makeup required.

At the suggestion of my mom, I started a blog – ChemoCouture – smashing together my love of fashion and makeup with my reality. I wanted to inspire other young women like me, facing an unexpected and life-altering diagnosis, to be courageous, fearless and fabulous. I didn’t mask the hard stuff. Rather, I embraced the rebellious fighter within and shared my story with those who cared to listen.

Those followers became part of my inner circle. I soon learned the hidden truth about cancer: it is a solitary disease that makes you part of global a community. Every feeling, every experience, every emotion is at once your very own and shared by thousands of others just like you.  Knowing that you are not alone, that others have been through this and not only survived but emerged as stronger, more confident, more resilient individuals is inspiring.

That’s what’s so important about a program like Look Good Feel Better. Yes, the workshops and makeup tutorials are important. Learning how to rock a wig or a turban can instill instant confidence. But the community aspect of the program – the sharing of stories and experiences that only people who are on the cancer journey can understand – is more powerful still. 

People emerge from a Look Good Feel Better program with a glow. Not just because of the products they learned how to use, but because they have been embraced and welcomed into a powerful community.

Cancer tests you. It tests your will, your resolve, your stamina. It shifts your perspective. As a survivor, I can look back now and see past the negatives – the treatments, the surgeries, the side-effects – and embrace the positives. I have been redefined from the inside out.

Yes, I still harbor those same childhood dreams of acting and singing and directing. I relish every opportunity to share my art with others – despite the pandemic. Still, I am more than just the fighter, the adventurer or the rebel. I am Krysta, the survivor, the nurturer, the proud member of the cancer community.

If you know someone going through cancer, understand they are transforming as well. They are on a journey of self-discovery – defining who they will be once they are no longer a “cancer patient.” Be there for them. Support them. Love them. And if you think they might benefit from a Look Good Feel Better workshop, introduce them to this amazing program and the community it fosters.