Windsor author empowers women through cancer treatment

Windsor author's release of comprehensive guide for women with cancer coincides with International Women's Day.

'To be able to pick up the book and read it and know you're not alone anymore'

Jackie Apostol-Pizzuti published Healing Pretty to help women battling cancer. (Aadel Haleem/CBC)

A new guide book for women with cancer aims to give patients that power and confidence to take back their lives.

Healing Pretty, written by Windsor author Jackie Apostol-Pizzuti, was released Wednesday to coincide with International Women's Day. 

"When my clients come to me, they're filled with anxiety," Apostol-Pizzuti said. "They're bombarded with paperwork, tests, appointments and all kinds of things that make them feel like they are really out of control with their lives."

Her book is designed to help women focus on factors in their life they can control, particularly self-confidence.

Creating a support system

The book covers a range of topics, such as solutions to skin problems, makeup tips, surgery reconstruction options and fashion accessories.

"I've heard several times that, second to the initial diagnosis of cancer, hair loss is most devastating," said Apostol-Pizzuti. "In a lot of ways, it's what defines us as a woman and that's very, very traumatic for them."

To help the women get over the shock of hair loss, Apostol-Pizzuti has them try on wigs at her one-stop shop for cancer patients, Wigs to Wellness and the Mastectomy Boutique. 

"When you come to terms with the whole process of hair loss and you decide that you want to shave your head, it's almost like a feeling of empowerment," she said. "You're taking control of it, rather than it taking control of you."

Realizing they're not alone

Peggy Polewski is a cancer survivor. She visited Wigs to Wellness two years ago after being diagnosed. She felt lost and was in desperate need of guidance and support.

"It is the most vulnerable time in your life ... I wish I had [the book] during my journey," said Polewski, whose story is featured in the book. "I was able to share my story. I do believe knowledge is power and this book is exactly what women need at this time of their lives."

Healing Pretty couldn't come soon enough for cancer patient Kelly Trudell. She relied on the book as she was going through radiation treatment. 

"It's very overwhelming. You can't think straight," said Trudell, who adds she takes solace in knowing support is available. "To be able to pick up the book and read it and know you're not alone anymore ... there's a bunch of us out there."