Surviving Cancer, Beautifully


Our guest post today is from the Founders of Surviving Beautifully (read more about their mission at the bottom of this article).


“Beauty” and “cancer” are not words one thinks of together; and in fact so many women are still told it’s enough to survive.  

Even though life seems to stop the moment you hear those words “you have cancer,” there are still family dinners, school functions, vacations, work and a myriad of other of life’s events. You face the world with a set of new and unfamiliar and frightening challenges. But you have to face the world, and yourself. And feeling good about yourself is a huge part of healing.

Actress Helen Mirren made a very powerful statement when she said, “The way we look is part of our human condition. It is tribal and social and personal. I don’t think it’s superficial; it’s quite profound.” This statement is never truer than when appearance is forced to change due to an illness.

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Surviving Beautifully’s founder, Lana Koifman, now a 5-year breast cancer survivor, knows exactly how this feels. How to worry about whether you’ll emerge whole from surgeries. What to do when your hair thins but you don’t want people to know. But most of all how to maintain your sense of self as a beautiful, whole person.

During treatment, Lana wanted answers to her beauty questions. But it took many lonely hours on the internet and in the library to find the information she sought. Simple questions, such as, “Can I use a self-tanner to brighten my complexion during treatment? And there were more complex issues: “What will my breast look like after the expander is fully inflated?” Lana found information by doing her own research. Unfortunately, she learned by trial and error about reconstructive surgery: truly, by trial and error, because when she did not like the result of her nipple reconstruction, she had another surgery to get it to look more realistic. She says: “If I had had up-to-the-minute information, I might have spared myself that additional, painful procedure. And I’m not the only one.”

Since then, Lana has set on a journey to help other women. She counsels dozens of women to

Lana and Victoria

Victoria Tillotson, Ph. D. and Lana Koifman: Founders of Surviving Beautifully

give them the hope that they can emerge from their battle with cancer whole, feeling like themselves, and with a renewed outlook on life!

Surviving Beautifully was born of this struggle; not just against a cancer, but against fear and lack of information. Our website and forthcoming book aims to give solutions to aesthetic issues, and most of all, hope!

There is another important piece to concerns about aesthetic issues arising from cancer treatment. Sometimes choices are made to forgo surgeries out of fear that cancer treatments will leave them horribly scarred; that they will be less than what they were before.

As Lana notes: “The news of Angelina Jolie’s decision to have a preventative double mastectomy was front page news. At the same time, I learned that my childhood friend was losing her battle to Stage 4 bone cancer, which metastasized from an untreated breast cancer that was diagnosed five years ago. It is difficult to believe that in this day and age a diagnosed breast cancer would remain untreated, but it is painfully true. She chose not to have the mastectomy which [doctors told her would likely be life-saving] because of its physical effects. My friend realized she made a wrong choice when she broke her leg last winter and was told that the cancer had spread to her bones. Five years ago, my friend made a choice not to have a mastectomy because ‘she did not want to be deformed and be less of a woman at the age of 45.’ Now she is dying because of that choice.”

It is crucial that women and men know that they DO have options! There are opportunities for reconstruction, scar treatments and a lot of help with body and aesthetic issues. At Surviving Beautifully, we hope that the knowledge of possibilities will lessen fears and allow people to make better choices about health care. We bring you experts in all fields – from plastic surgeons to makeup gurus to dermatologists to radiologists to psychologists – who give up-to-the-moment information to help you make good decisions, have hope, and survive beautifully!

About Surviving Beautifully: Surviving Beautifully was founded by a breast cancer survivor to provide expert answers for women with beauty and body issues during cancer treatment.

Our aim is to give sophsticated, up-to-the-minute, compassionate and empowering advice from medical doctors and other experts.

Our team includes renowned oncologists, radiologists, general and plastic surgeons, oncology nurses, complementary and complementary medicine practitioners, aestheticians, hair stylists, makeup artists, fitness experts, counselors, dermatologists, dentists, nutritionists and celebrity survivors.

We provide advice on skin care, hair care, dental care, breast reconstruction, hair loss (alopecia), eyelash and eyebrow loss, nail issues, makeup application, physical fitness, nutrition, and wellness.

We provide the information you need to survive your way. Every day.