What do you do when you get the worst news of your life?
If you’re Lindsay Wright, you turn it into a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Here she shares her inspiring story.
On the 15th of November 2016, my life changed dramatically.
I had found a small lump in my breast in late October and was automatically referred to the breast clinic.
I wasn’t too worried. I felt confident that it was just a cyst as I had experienced these before.
But, following my mammogram and ultrasound I started to feel anxious as cysts weren’t mentioned and I began to suspect something wasn’t right.
Sitting in my doctor’s office he told me, “I’m afraid you have stage three breast cancer. You will need a mastectomy before Christmas.”
On hearing the word “mastectomy,” I felt physically sick and just wanted to leave the building and get home as soon as possible. I was overwhelmed.
I was 59 and juggling business and family life. I worked as a freelance writer and management trainer, a career I’d enjoyed for 30 years.
I also had a share in a Boutique Hotel in Hastings and in the summer of 2016 added a fish and chip restaurant to my interests. I shared my time between London and Hastings and life was good.
It was a huge blow to my family on hearing the news, especially as my husband’s first wife had died of the very same cancer when their children were just 2 and 5. I can only imagine how he must have felt.
As the surgery date loomed, I was so very fortunate to be surrounded by fantastic women who were incredibly supportive and practical. A couple of them even did my Christmas shopping for me!
It wasn’t until the day of surgery that I felt real panic and I cried uncontrollably all the way to the hospital.
I underwent surgery on 15th December and thankfully, all went well apart from a couple of minor complications.
In early March the chemo began, and it was truly horrid but I just got on with it.
Looking back, I think I was sleepwalking my way through the weekly hospital visits.
Peter took me to my appointments and although he appeared calm and confident on the outside, I knew he was having difficulty holding himself together.
We were so worried about the effect on the children too as they were both in their 20s and were pretty clued up on cancer treatments. They had already lost their biological mum to breast cancer.
By late May my body was having huge difficulty in coping with the regular onslaught of potent drugs.
The chemo definitely had a really bad effect on my skin. It was blotchy itchy and flaky…almost like crepe paper.
Then I began to lose my hair and my skin became ever drier and so uncomfortable. There were days when I just couldn’t face seeing anybody at all.
It was decided that I should take a break from chemo and so, despite being in a somewhat fragile state, Peter and I booked a holiday to Portugal.
Little did I know that this trip would lead to another, much more positive life changing event.
Whilst in a local artisan store one day, I picked up a little jar of moisturising balm. As soon as I started using it, the effect was dramatic. My skin started to plump up, my pasty complexion disappeared and I looked healthy again. The itching stopped. It was amazing!
But, there was one huge drawback… I intensely disliked the aroma. It was pungent, musty, and faintly medicinal. Still, it was having such a great effect on my ravaged skin that I decided to persevere.
I even tracked down the maker and ordered a number of pots in the hope that I would get used to the smell… I did not!
However, I believed in the product so much that I didn’t want to give up. If only I could create something that had the same amazing effect but with a nicer fragrance.
I decided to seek help from one of my very good friends, Vanessa McNeilly, who is an aromatherapist.
We pored over the ingredient list on the pot and realised that the “wow" factor was a lesser known essential oil called Cistus Ladanifer, commonly known as Rock Rose… a wild shrub that grows in Portugal and Spain.
I tracked down an oil producer in the Algarve while Vanessa found essential oils that would blend well with Cistus. She came up with the most gorgeous balm and facial oil, containing two of my favourite scents…rose and jasmine.
By the time my treatment recommenced my body still couldn’t cope with chemo and so I switched to Herceptin which, thankfully, I tolerated well.
I was using my bespoke balm and oil all the time and my skin just loved it. I began to see my clear, bright complexion returning and received so many compliments. It really gave me a boost.
Even the chemo nurses and my oncologist were impressed and started buying our products. Indeed some of the other patients on the chemo ward continued to use them.
It wasn’t until I was chatting with another good friend, Raquel Le Bron, that the idea of creating a business came up. She had a long history working in the beauty industry. What began almost in jest became a real plan. It was a great distraction from the hospital appointments.
When I completed my treatment in September 2017 we decided to give the business a go.
Vanessa created a variety of balms and oils which we gave out to friends and family as a trial and were were amazed at the positive feedback.
While our potions were being formally tested with a cosmetic chemist, we were busy thinking about branding.
Rock Rose Beauty was the most apt name but we struggled with packaging, fonts and logos. Finally we found a format that we all loved… black and gold on glass. It looks great.
Rock Rose Beauty was launched in November 2018. We had an online shop and three outlets keen to stock our gorgeous products. It was such an exciting time.
The fun and joy of setting up a new business really helped take my mind away from my cancer giving me something positive to focus on and all the while my skin was feeling better and better.
Just when everything was looking good, the cancer returned and I had my second mastectomy in January 2019. I recovered pretty swiftly and in order to publicise our products we put on a number of events with profits going to cancer charities. It felt like a really positive thing to do.
This led to “ chatter “ and soon we had a cult following in Hastings which is just fabulous.
Then, in February of this year we were awarded Lux Life Best Independent Organic Skin Care Brand of the Year. It was amazing!
My personal cancer journey is now just about complete as I was reconstructed in January of this year and I should be given the all clear by November. Fingers crossed!
Rock Rose Beauty was born out of adversity and this I believe will be an enduring legacy.
I am immensely proud and grateful to all those who have helped us get to where we are today. I’m so happy that I’ve been able to help other chemo sufferers feel comfortable in their skin… literally!
Often women of fifty plus notice their skin becomes a lot drier and dehydrated so our products are perfect.
On a personal level, RockRose is the silver lining to my story, the positive take away that came from a very tough time in my life and I feel so grateful for that.
To find out more about Rock Rose’s fabulous products go to: rockrosebeauty.co.uk
If you have a story you’d like to share head on over to the It’s All About You page and fill in the form at the bottom! We can’t wait to hear what’s going on in your life at fifty plus!