The new you – style after cancer

Personal Stylist Teresa Lenihan from Co. Limerick joins us today with her top tips for looking and feeling better after cancer.

By Teresa Lenihan, for Happy Magazine.

My name is Teresa and I am from Co. Limerick. I have worked in fashion and retail for over 15 years (including owning my own boutique) and last year, I trained as a Personal Stylist. I like prints, patterns and bright colours. I am married to Ray and we are blessed to have two children together.

My passion is working on a one-to-one basis with women, helping them to truly “see” themselves through their style. I take a very holistic approach to styling (taking into consideration many different factors such as lifestyle, personality, life choices etc.) as I find when you are truly being yourself and dressing for you, that’s when you shine over the rest.

I work on a very personal level as no two women are the same. Our life experiences help form who we are and we all have a different story to tell. For example, if I have two clients, same size, body shape, colouring, chances are that these two women will not be styled the same. They will have different personalities and opinions and I want to help you use your style to let this shine through. I believe your style is an expression of who you are. It is personal and it is important.

Mum and I

When I was in college, my mother, Maisie, was diagnosed with breast cancer. It was a large tumour and she underwent a mastectomy, followed by chemotherapy and radiotherapy. As anyone who has been through cancer knows it is a hard road and support is so important. I just wanted to help, to make her life easier. I did the practical stuff like looking after the house, accompanying her to appointments and because fashion is my thing, I bought her clothes so she wouldn’t have to. She was left with radiotherapy scars and necklines on tops were tricky, even though mastectomy bras are brilliant, you do lose your natural curve so fabrics also play a huge part. When I meet women who have been through what my mum has, I can relate and I am so happy to be able to help them.

Thankfully she made a full recovery. When you go through something so sudden and traumatic, it takes time to build yourself back up again. You are not the same person after cancer. Sure you want to get back to the “old you”, the way you were before and in most parts of your life you can but in others it’s like starting over. It can be daunting and overwhelming. Depending on where you are on your cancer journey, you may be thinking to yourself, style and how you look right now are the last thing on your mind, and rightly so. This was the case for my own mother and it broke my heart.

It takes a lot of effort in different areas of your life, aside from treatment, to get yourself to feel good again. These might include changes in your sleep, nutrition, medication, mental wellness, energy levels and physio sessions. I’ve walked through all of this with my mum.

You would be surprised the affect your style has on your confidence.

A well-wishing friend wants to take you out for a nice lunch, to get you out of the house and have a nice treat. You are filled with dread and your immediate reaction is “I’m not going, I’ve nothing to wear, none of my clothes feel right anymore” and you do not go. Studies have shown that our personal style has a huge impact on our private and professional lives. It is not how the clothes look but more about how the clothes can make you feel. When you look good, you feel better, you stand taller, you make eye contact and you are more outgoing – you want to go on that lunch date with your friend.


When you are ready, do things for yourself that are going to improve the way you feel and that add value to your life.

These are a few of my recommendations:

1. Your clothes serve a purpose, they need to be comfortable. Choose breathable, soft fabrics. I love the luxury of cashmere jumpers (M&S/Lucy Nagle) they look good and keep you warm. Choose a colour you love to wear (I do mini colour consultations on my clients) and what makes you feel good. Pair this with jeans or leggings (I love the Spanx Jeggings and adore LuluLemon Align Leggings) that have a good stretch in them, wear with trainers, you have a great smart casual look right there.

2. If you have lost your hair from treatment, you could let it grow back naturally and embrace the process. If you feel this is not for you, you may opt to wear a head scarf or a wig. If it is the latter, research where the best place to go near you would be and where you think you would be comfortable. Don’t be shy to contact them, ask the questions and only book if you are happy to.

3. If you have had breast cancer and have had a mastectomy or double mastectomy, you might be happy with mastectomy bras or you might be considering reconstructive surgery. Again, if you need mastectomy bras, find out about a bra fitting service near you (Valerie’s Breast Care in Limerick is where my own mother went and Valerie is a doll!). Some people are happy to go through surgery, but I understand this is not for everyone. Investing in a good bra is a great way to add a feminine shape and make you feel good.

4. I am not an expert on diet but nutrition is so important not only to support you in recovery but to give you a “glow”. Seek out a good dietitian near you.

5. Make-up and skin care routine is a great way to give yourself a boost. My personal favourites are Clarins and Elizabeth Arden. I would suggest booking an appointment to get your makeup done with one of your favourite makeup brands at Brown Thomas. The girls are fantastic. Tell them that you want a nice achievable day time look and ask them what products they would recommend. Don’t underestimate the power of lipstick. My go-to shade is “Pillow Talk” by Charlotte Tilbury.

“Lipstick is happiness in a tube!” Charlotte Tilbury

6. Dress for the life you have and treat yourself – whether it’s a new pair of sweatpants to get you back into exercise or whether it is that designer bag or sunglasses you have always wanted. We all deserve a treat, rather than the Louboutin shoes that may end up sitting in your wardrobe for most of the year. Price per wear and all that!

I believe our style has a profound effect on how we feel about ourselves and in turn in our recovery. Ask for help and seek out the people you are drawn to, to help you make yourself a priority. Be kind to yourself, small steps will turn into big results.

You got this!

Thank you so much to Teresa for this lovely piece. For more from Teresa or to get in touch, you can find her on Instagram @teresalenihanstyle or email her at

1 Comment

  1. Valerie Murphy
    6 August, 2019 / 10:51 am

    A lovely well written article that will help a lot of women. X

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