A while back Tinneke featured on the cover of Flair, a popular women’s magazine. Wearing a Rosette la Vedette chemo hat, no less! It goes without saying that we were proud as peacocks. And a little curious too: who is Tinneke? And how did she come to be a Flair cover girl? How is she coping with her hair loss? Time for an interview.
Why did you want to be in Flair, Tinneke? What motivated you?
Tinneke: “It was a very impulsive decision, to be honest. I had just lost my hair and whenever I flicked through Flair, all I saw were pretty, healthy girls with long hair. I thought it would be a good thing for them to feature women without hair, or wearing a head wrap. Women who had a story to tell. Strong women!
I discussed this with a good friend and my therapist to see whether they thought it would be a good idea. Go for it, they said. I did it for myself, because they really pampered me on the day of the shoot. But also for the future, for my one-year old daughter, and for other women like me. Because we are still beautiful, healthy and courageous, even without our hair. We definitely still turn heads!”
Do you have tips for coping better with hair loss?
Tinneke: “Initially the idea of losing my lovely long hair really upset me. My two friends took me to the hair salon for a shorter style. We laughed and cried. Eight days after my first chemo session, a friend helped me shave it down to a buzz cut. This time, I intended to be one step ahead of the cancer! I wanted to be the one to decide when it was going to happen. Another milestone, and I toasted it with my family and a glass of cava. The good thing was that when my hair fell out, I didn’t have long hanks to deal with, which made it a lot less devastating.
My dad shaved off the rest, with a razor, and from then on it was pretty head wraps all the way! I had agreed to go out for a drink with my friends once all my hair had fallen out. So that forced me out of the door wearing my scarf!”
How do you lift your spirits on a bad day?
Tinneke: “When I have a bad day, I just cry. You have to. You need to let yourself cry instead of always pushing the sorrow away. It’s not a bad thing to have a good cry now and then. I also often go out to dinner with friends. Social contact is vital! And of course I have my adorable one-year old daughter, who really boosts my state of mind. And my family and friends!
I also used to go regularly to the Bianca Centre at the University Hospital in Leuven for a massage or a facial. That helped me feel like a woman in spite of everything. Make-up works wonders as well. And another tip is to talk, talk, talk about how you feel!
What is the nicest compliment you have been given about your chemo hat so far?
Tinneke: “People often tell me that I look just as radiant as I did before my illness. That’s a great compliment. Initially I was afraid of people’s glances. I was worried that people would stare at me and think, oh, she’s got cancer. But to be honest, what I’ve really noticed is that they don’t look at me at all! Which makes sense really, because I don’t look strange when I’m wearing lovely headscarves!
What’s next on your bucket list after this ‘adventure’? Any wild dreams, plans...?
Tinneke: “To enjoy the simple things in life, my daughter, my family, friend. Have a nice glass of wine or champagne (we already do that pretty regularly), enjoy dinner, a walk with my daughter, a weekend at the seaside... No major plans, in other words. I just want to enjoy life. And find some time for myself!”