Before and after photo of Lynne Robinson, the first participant in the #SheIsStrongbyAvenue42 campaign.

#SheIsStrong campaign provides free microblading to cancer survivors

Langley cosmetic tattoo artist donating time and materials to give new eyebrows to cancer survivors who have lost their hair

The growing trend of microblading may seem a bit superficial, but for Lynne Robinson, receiving new eyebrows was like “taking back some power.”

Robinson, an ovarian cancer survivor, is the first to undergo free microblading by cosmetic tattoo artist Mandi Trickett-Wasylesky in the new campaign, #SheIsStrongByAvenue42.

Launched in January, every six to eight weeks, Trickett-Wasylesky, who operates Avenue 42 in Brookswood, is donating her time and materials to tattoo eyebrows on cancer survivors who have lost their hair.

“I don’t think she (Trickett-Wasylesky) really understands the impact that it can have on the person,” Robinson said.

“It was amazing. I feel honoured that she would be willing to do that for me, to honour my cancer journey that way and to give me back that power. I think that it’s a beautiful, wonderful thing. (Cancer is) something that is so out of your control, and to have that control back — it’s pretty spectacular.”

Robinson was diagnosed with cancer in 2008 at the age of 42, and underwent a year of chemotherapy and surgical treatments before being declared cancer-free.

“Physically, mentally, spiritually — it hits you on all levels,” Robinson said.

“I’m happy, healthy and clear now, but the effects of cancer linger long after the treatments have ended.”

Trickett-Wasylesky has been doing nail services at her Avenue 42 studio for 10 years, and cosmetic tattooing for nearly four. Robinson is a long-time nail client of hers, and when she asked about having her eyebrows done, Trickett-Wasylesky said “the idea came to me.”

“She (Robinson) is just one of the most wonderful people, and one of the strongest women I have ever met in my life, and I really wanted to do something for her to make her feel better,” Trickett-Wasylesky said.

“I’ve had a few clients that have been impacted by breast cancer and ovarian cancer, and I lost a few clients over the last few years as well to cancer … so it’s been fairly relevant in my life.

“I just think that everyone should do something for others. Not only does it make you feel good, but it makes others feel good.”

Using a hand-held tool that resembles a pen, Trickett-Wasylesky stencils in each individual eyebrow hair to give a natural look. The procedure is relatively painless, but Robinson warns it can be emotional.

She said the sterile, surgical environment was a small trigger that reminded her of her cancer treatments.

“You just need to be aware that you may see people with emotional release and gratitude beyond what you may be expecting,” she said, “and to make sure that people are in a place to accept that.”

But that’s something Trickett-Wasylesky is already used to. Even for many of her clients who have not had cancer, when they see their eyebrows for the first time “they just burst into tears because they are so happy.”

“It’s a really big deal for women (who are cancer survivors) because they have had so much done to their bodies, and they have been invaded so much, and they have so much to get over. And they have scars, and they feel ugly, and they don’t need a constant reminder every single time they look in the mirror at their face of what they have been through,” Trickett-Wasylesky said.

“And so it’s just something that can make them just feel a little bit better and not have to be reminded of the struggles they have been through every single day.”

Trickett-Wasylesky still has openings available for cancer survivors who would like to receive free microblading. Those interested must be at least six months chemotherapy and radiation free, or have a doctor’s note.

Robinson encourages anyone who may be on the fence to apply.

“She (Trickett-Wasylesky) gave me back some power. Cancer took this from me temporarily, but I’m taking it back. That’s the feeling that I walked away with. It’s something that people may not really understand, and if there’s anyone that’s really hesitant about doing it, go meet her and talk to her and see what she’s about.”

Inquiries can be made online at avenue42langley.com, on the “Avenue 42” Facebook and Instagram pages, or by calling 604-825-7494.

RELAY FOR LIFE SEEKING CANCER SURVIVORS

Robinson, who is the volunteer chair for the Langley Relay For Life, is also encouraging cancer survivors to sign up for the 2017 Relay for Life event.

Taking place June 9 from 6 p.m. to midnight at McLeod Athletic Park, the festivities will launch with a survivors’ victory lap.

Donning yellow survivors’ shirts, participants walk a lap of the track while hundreds of spectators cheer them on.

“There is no charge for survivors, and it is truly an amazing, empowering, and positive way to start the event and celebrate those who have fought cancer (or) are fighting cancer,” Robinson said.

The annual event raises funds for the Canadian Cancer Society, with this year’s goal being $150,000.

For more information or to register, visit the website convio.cancer.ca.

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