Beauty editor Caitlin Kiernan’s life changed after she got a breast cancer diagnosis at 42. “It is no secret that a cancer is a major health crisis, but what most people don’t realize is that is also causes a major identity crisis,” she tells PEOPLE.
“Most of the physical characteristics that inform who we are as individual women — like our style and personality — slowly get stripped away by the side effects of treatment,” she adds. “My hair starting falling out. My breasts were removed. My nails began peeling, badly. I gained over 15 pounds. My skin aged overnight. All of the sudden, I no longer recognized myself. I felt lost.”
So she did what she had done for years as a beauty editor, and called on all of her industry resources to help her understand how to care for her hair, nails, skin and more during treatment. Now, she’s sharing all of her insider intel is in one place with Pretty Sick: The Beauty Guide for Women with Cancer ($19.99; amazon.com), available now, just in time for October’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month. “I hope it empowers women to take back some control over their bodies while battling cancer,” she says. “It’s my way of paying it forward.”
Plus, she’s giving PEOPLE readers a sneak peek inside her book by sharing her ultimate five tips for how to still feel like yourself after the diagnosis. Scroll down for Kiernan’s tips.