We collaborated with Cancer Chicks NZ for a self-care event to support young wāhine from both Canteen and Cancer Chicks. We caught up with Chelsea, founder of Cancer Chicks NZ, to talk about her connection to Canteen, why we collaborated for the event, and why she started Cancer Chicks.
Can you tell us a little bit about your connection to Canteen?
“As a young woman faced with a cancer diagnosis, I was able to find solace when opening up to others who were going through a similar experience. I have formed a lot of close connections with others through Canteen and these have continued to flourish beyond cancer. Being able to share in a way that’s non-judgmental helped promote connection and allowed me to accept the parts that were initially difficult to accept. This helped me to let go of the fear, allowing me to take control and giving me a sense of purpose through my journey.”
Why did Cancer Chicks and Canteen collaborate for the self-care event?
“I am a strong believer in the sentiment that when you are given a cancer diagnosis and your life changes entirely, how you feel about yourself shouldn’t. During treatment, young women deserve a break from the confinement of their homes, hospital rooms and appointments, as well as an opportunity to be re-empowered and reminded that they aren’t defined by their diagnosis. Hair loss, weight fluctuations, brittle nails and changes to the skin are all common side effects of cancer treatments, and each of these takes a physical and emotional toll on young women during treatment (let alone when they are all happening to your body at the same time!).
“These women have experienced chemotherapy, radiation, major surgeries, invasive treatments, had body parts removed, lost their hair, breasts and more. As a result of these changes, many women struggle with their self-identity and body image during this time, living within a body that is weathering the storms.
“This event is a chance for women to see, understand and respect their bodies in a whole new light. This day is dedicated to helping women look and feel great, build connections, and discover that their beauty exists both inside and out, and what they deem their ‘beauty’ will be ever-changing.”
Can you tell us a little about Cancer Chicks?
“You are told your early twenties are supposed to be a time in your life where all the opportunities and dreams seem right in front of you, but while battling cancer there is a real sense of the pause, distancing (and sometimes) closing of these once-upon-a-time dreams. When you once felt invincible, in your prime, ready to make your mark in the world, cancer really comes along and disrupts the ‘plan’. A cancer diagnosis changes everything. Cancer Chicks aims to support, empower, and strengthen the community of young women who appreciate the unique cancer journey and have their own extraordinary stories to share.
“During my three years of treatment, I have been so privileged and humbled by the people I have met, young women who have opened up to me and found a safe space in their ever-changing reality. Fighting cancer gave me a deeper perspective, a stronger purpose, and a renewed passion to live this life fully – and it is a special thing to share such sentiments with others who understand where you are coming from. Us young women really have a certain strength and resilience that exponentially builds in numbers; the more of us that are connected to one another, the larger our source of power. It has been an honour to start Cancer Chicks and I am so proud of each woman in our community.”
Cancer Chicks supports women 25+ who are impacted by cancer.