Being diagnosed with breast cancer has not stopped Sarah Harmer thinking of others, which is why she was nominated to have a Life Matters makeover. Emma Harrowing reports.

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When Sarah Harmer from North Walsham was told that she had breast cancer the shock was resonant in her head. Her elder sister was diagnosed with the disease six months before, which was the main reason 38-year-old Sarah went to see her doctor for a check-up. She had displayed no symptoms, there was no lump and she hadn’t noticed that her breasts had changed shape.

Mum of two young daughters, Sarah decided to have a double mastectomy believing that removing all her breast tissue would give her a better chance of survival and lessen the risk of the cancer coming back.

“It was a big decision but prevention is often better than cure,” says Sarah. “When I had the operation they discovered that the cancer had spread to both breasts and into my lymph glands. It was devastating to hear that the cancer had spread so deep. It was lucky that I had decided to have both of my breasts removed.”

As the cancer was deeper than first thought Sarah can not have any reconstruction surgery until it is confirmed that she is clear of the disease. After finishing chemotherapy in December Sarah is waiting for the all-clear from the hospital; a result she is expecting to hear within the next month.

“Living without breasts has made me feel self-conscious in what I wear,” says Sarah. “One side of my chest is bigger than the other which makes finding tops and dresses that actually look right on me a challenge.

“I also lost a lot of my hair through the treatment. I thought that you lost all of your hair during chemotherapy but I lost all but a section of hair that formed a horseshoe shape on my head.”

Sarah’s partial hair loss has made her hair grow back quite patchy with shorter bits on top and on one side.

However, her appearance seems to be the least for her concerns. Since being diagnosed with cancer Sarah has continued to work part time in Norwich for the Inland Revenue, two evenings a week at her local leisure centre, has carried out her work as a parent governor at her daughters’ school and has helped raise money for charities including Help for Heroes and the Big C.

Says Sarah: “Keeping busy is one of the ways I have learnt to cope with what has happened to my body. Being a mum to two lovely daughters, aged ten and seven, has also helped me carry on when things have got tough.”

Sarah’s aunt Judy Bailey nominated her for a makeover after Sarah put so much effort into a recent fashion show at the Holiday Inn in Norwich, which raised money for the charity Help for Heroes. Sarah worked tirelessly behind the scenes to make sure models didn’t miss their cues so that the whole show ran to plan.

Now it is Sarah’s turn to feel pampered and preened.

The clothes

Since her mastectomy Sarah feels self-conscious in tops and dresses so it’s up to Jarrold’s womenswear advisor Harriet to make Sarah feel great once again. Harriet chooses a range of outfits for Sarah to try on, from a pair of skinny jeans which show off Sarah’s long and lean legs, worn with a stripy top and tan leather jacket, to an animal print shift dress where the busy print hides the parts of her body Sarah dislikes.

Sarah decides on a teal wrap dress, which defines her waist and fits her top half perfectly. Harriet teams the dress with a pair of neutral court shoes and a pink and blue bead necklace to bring a touch of this season’s colour blocking trend into her look. The outfit is completed with a hot pink clutch from Lulu Guinness.

The hair

Due to chemotherapy Sarah’s hair has grown back darker and uneven, with shorter bits at the crown and long wispy bits of hair throughout the length. The Gallery Haircutter’s stylist Tracey gives Sarah a new style that will make her look every bit as glamorous as she deserves.

Says Tracey: “At the moment Sarah has two styles to her hair; a shorter style and a longer bob shape look. I’m going to combine the two looks by creating an asymmetric look that is shorter on one side than the other, with a long sweeping fringe. Taking the back short will also add texture to Sarah’s hair and will make it easier to style as this look will suit the way Sarah’s hair naturally grows.

“For the colour I have done a colour analysis on Sarah to discover what shade will suit her skin tone the best. As Sarah has a cool skin tone, clear blonde shades will suit her best as these will bring out her blue eyes and will enhance her complexion.”

The makeup

To complete Sarah’s new look MAC makeup artist Laura in Jarrold’s showed Sarah how she can update her look for the daytime with a natural smoky eye.

Get Sarah’s look

For the base: After cleansing, toning and moisturising the skin use a primer over your face to give your skin a good even base on which to apply your foundation (Laura used MAC Prep and Prime). Next use a foundation brush to apply a foundation that matches your skin tone over your face (Laura used MAC Studio Sculpt foundation and concealer). Use a concealer to cover any blemishes, taking a little up under the eye to hide any redness or dark circles.

For the eyes: To create a daytime smoky eye apply a brown colour eyeshadow over the eyelid (Laura used MAC Mythology and Embark). Next use an eye pencil to define the eye from the upper lash line to the crease and blend into the eye shadow (Laura used MAC Teddy pencil).

Define eyebrows by using a highlighter from the crease to the brow bone (Laura used MAC naked pigment) and use an eye pencil to fill in eyebrows (Laura used MAC Fling eyebrow pencil). Finish the eyes with black eyeliner along the top and bottom lash line and a coat of black mascara (Laura used MAC Pro Lash black eye liner and MAC No.32 Lashes).

For the cheeks: Apply powder to the cheeks as a base for colour (Laura used MAC Blot Powder in medium). Then use a powder blusher in a peachy colour and apply to the apples of the cheeks blending upwards and outwards along the cheekbones towards the hairline (Laura used MAC Peach Twist).

For the lips: A pply a lip base to your lips to improve the longevity of your lipstick, then define the lips using a lip pencil (Laura used MAC Prep and Prime Lip and Sublime Culture, and Gem of Roses lip liner). Finish the lips with a coat of natural pink lipstick (Laura used MAC Geo Pink).

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