Today we are sharing a different type of post with you all – it’s a long one, but one that we feel is important to share with you. We apologise now if this tugs at your heartstrings… it’s definitely tugged at ours. If you want to go and grab the Kleenex, we’ll wait...
OK, are you Kleenex ready?
Have you made yourself a cuppa? No? Well, you probably should…
Ready? Let’s get serious.
As you all have seen, we have been working exclusively with Superdrug to bring a limited edition product to your tanning routines – our Limited Edition Rose Gold 7-Day Tanner – in aid of terminal illness charity Marie Curie. Whilst we could (very easily) rave about how great this product is, how amazing everyone wearing it looks and how summery it smells on the constant, we think it’s just as – if not more so – important to tell you about what motivates us and why we are working with Marie Curie for the second consecutive year to raise funds for such an amazing charity.
Let’s cut to the chase, shall we? It’s stories like Lorrainne’s. So if you sit back, get comfy with your cuppa and ensure the Kleenex isn’t too far away, we’ll tell you all about this amazing woman.
Lorrainne Castellano is a 57-year-old mother from Penarth, Cardiff, who was diagnosed with peritoneal caner in 2013 with only 18 months to live. Fast forward 4 years and you will find Lorrainne performing under the bright lights of the burlesque stage with the Cardiff Cabaret Club aka the Burly Girls, consistently defying doctors’ expectations. Lorrainne has always loved performing, ever since her childhood, where she dreamed of running away to be a travelling showgirl in the circus. Whilst she never made it to the mad world of stilts, clowns and elephants, she has always kept herself fit and healthy – something she and her consultant credit to the extended longevity of her life.
‘To look at me, you wouldn’t know that I was ill, but my consultant said that it is because I was so fit before and have continued to maintain a level of fitness. That is one of the main reasons why I am still alive.’
During her adulthood, Lorrainne spent more than a decade running luxury hotel spas in the Caribbean before returning to South Wales, where she started dancing with the Burly Girls in 2012. Upon her return, she had been looking for a new hobby to take up, and was one day approached by the burlesque group whilst in a dance class.
‘When I was at the dance classes, I was asked whether I wanted to do a show. They told me what I was going to be wearing and I thought, “Oh my god, this is amazing!”’
After being told about the group, she went and watched one of the shows herself before becoming completely and utterly obsessed.
‘I’ve done show after show – four or five every year!’
Looking atLorrainne in her burlesque outfits, it’s clear to see that Lorrainne has been able to unleash that inner showgirl inside of her, but there is more to credit to Lorrainne’s love of burlesque than what initially meets the eye as it was, in fact, burlesque that first alerted her to there being something wrong.
Lorrainne first noticed that something was wrong when she was unable to perform her dance moves. She recalls the moment: “I remember putting my stage costume on and noticed my stomach was a different shape. I started to feel different. These pains started and I thought I had just pulled my oblique area on the right hand side when I had been doing some twists or a spin. I would go to dance classes and say to my Dance Director, Foo Foo Labelle, ‘I can’t do the isolation, I can’t move my ribs or manoeuvre, I don’t know what I’ve done’. This got worse over the next few weeks and I remember putting a corset on and she came up behind me to pull the cords to tighten it and my knees just went because of the compression on my abdominal area. And that was it. I knew there was something wrong”.
Since Lorrainne’s diagnosis of peritoneal cancer in 2013, Lorrainne has had surgery and chemotherapy to prolong her life, but she has always known that her cancer was incurable. She recalls how ‘telling my son was the worst thing I have ever had to do, it was vile. I couldn’t tell him at first, it took me about eight weeks to do it’.
Instead of sitting around, reflecting on the life that has already been lived, Lorrainne has continued living ‘otherwise it’s there 24 hours a day and it torments you, even when you’re asleep because you’re dreaming about it. You wake up in the middle of the night and the night terrors are there. That’s my one big piece of advice for people going through a similar thing – don’t give up on the things you love’.
For Lorrainne, the one main thing that has kept her going is, undeniably, the burlesque community she is involved in, who have helped her cope over the past 4 years.
‘I have found a place where I can be me, a place where I am, for the time I spend on that stage, just the same as everyone else.’
The stage offers Lorrainne ‘pure escapism’, confidence and a place where she is transported to another world. A world where cancer is not in control.
‘You wouldn’t know the severity of my condition, looking at me up on that stage. That’s the hardest thing for others to get their head around and me, because I look like everyone else.’
‘Magical adrenalin kicks in and, as soon as I step on that stage, I am so focused and I don’t think of any pain or sickness. If I could bottle that I don’t think I would need chemotherapy and I wouldn’t need morphine because it takes it all away. I don’t feel anything other than whether my feet are in the correct place, or whether my arms are in the right place or whether I’m smiling.’
To anyone that is going through something similar to Lorrainne, she will leave you with her one bit of advice: ‘you have to have something in your life where you can completely escape, lose yourself and get some peace. Don’t give up on the things you love. People will want to wrap you in cotton wool – they mean well, but when cancer is trying to take every bit of you, your independence is the only thing you have control of. So it’s important to do the things you want to do with the time you have.’
Lorrainne was recently given 4 months to live, so she has stopped going to chemotherapy. She is still involved with the Burly Girls and helps with costume making. She hopes to be on stage again soon.We wish that there was a world where terminal illnesses didn’t exist, but whilst this is sadly not the case, we will continue to support the amazing work being carried out by the incredible nurses at Marie Curie every day with inspirational people like Lorrainne. For every bottle of the Limited Edition Rose Gold 7-Day Tanner sold, £2 will be donated to Marie Curie. Your very own bottle of the tan-tastic Limited Edition Rose Gold 7-Day Tanner can be picked up NOW from a Superdrug stor