When Kaz Foncette was first diagnosed with breast cancer five years ago at the age of 31, she didn’t know what else to do other than adopt a positive mindset.
Kaz found herself taking to Instagram to keep friends and family around the world informed of her journey.
Today Kaz has 10,000 followers and has just completed a campaign for Wonderbra, hugely significant for a woman who has had breast reconstruction. “I was really happy they chose me and for a campaign that wasn’t linked to Breast Cancer Awareness Month – there tends to be a lot of tokenism. There are other months of the year,” she says.
But that’s Kaz. Throughout her journey she has been determined to ‘fix’ or at least ameliorate some of the low moments she has experienced both for herself and others. Like the loneliness during treatment. “It was a very lonely time," she says. "On days I felt good everyone was at work. Then at weekends when friends and family wanted to meet up I often felt sick because of where my treatment fell. The invites stopped coming and I started to lose friends.” Kaz found a community online and decided to launch coffee mornings for people going through her experience. As the pandemic hit, the meetings were taken online, which worked well because it meant women from all across the UK could come together to chat to people other than their families where they may have to hold back. Each time there’s a theme like fertility and getting ready for summer and everyone gets a coffee club box of treats. The mornings are staffed by volunteers and over 150 women have attended to date.
A craft club followed when one of the attendees offered to put on sessions on how to make a flower crown and some Lottery funds were secured. Most – but not all – people lose their hair during treatment and a flower crown is a lovely way to make them feel more positive.
Hair loss was another experience that prompted Kaz into action: “When I lost my hair I felt I lost a part of me, as a Turkish Cypriot woman hair is very much a part of my identity. I didn’t feel feminine.” Kaz asked a nurse about NHS options: “She pulled a couple of frumpy wigs out of a box. I thought these can’t be the only options for me as a 31-year-old woman. A young person’s perspective isn’t catered for because the thinking is that young people don’t get breast cancer.” Wigs For Heroes was born, a registered charity set up by Kaz to provide grants to people to spend at the 25 specialist wig salons around the UK that deal with hospital referrals. People are given a prescription but it only covers a certain cost – Wigs for Heroes will top it up.
Kaz also supplies pamper bags of beauty products for women when they go for their first treatment at her local hospital in North London. A recent burglary saw stocks severely diminished and so Kaz is on the look out for donations.
We think Kaz is a phenomenal woman and we’re talking to her about supporting one of her next events. If you want to find out more about the coffee mornings or perhaps have some beauty products you’d like to donate, head on over to @wigsforheroes. You can follow Kaz’s account at @kazfoncette.
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