Recently I discovered a blogger who is inspiring in more ways than one. Meet Cathy Williamson from The Middle Page. Not only does Cathy have fabulous taste when it comes to fashion, but she is a proud survivor of breast cancer.
A double mastectomy, chemo, and radiation couldn’t keep this 55- year-old Nashville fashionista down. Cathy continued to share her style and her inspirational message of strength and hope with other women throughout her illness. Here’s my interview with this Fabulous After 40 Styleblazer, who wowed me with her chic style and wonderfully positive attitude!
Deb: Hi Cathy, How would you define how you like to dress?
Cathy: My style is relaxed, mixed with a bit of edge.
Deb: Everyone has certain outfits or pieces they always feel fabulous in. Tell us about some of yours and why they make you feel so good?
Cathy: I feel most relaxed in jeans, a tee, and a jacket. Everyone has something they don’t like about themselves, and for me, it is my legs. I don’t wear many dresses because of it. Jeans are comfortable and low-key but can be dressed up with heels and a beautiful top.
Deb: Are there specific trends you love right now? Any direction you want to try but haven’t yet? Any trends you know are not for you at all?
Cathy: I adore the “boho” vibe in fashion right now. It’s funny; I would have described my style as very “boho” a couple of years back…then I lost my hair due to chemotherapy. I think boho looks so much better with longer hair. I am going to try it again this fall. The off-the-shoulder thing going on all summer is so cute, but I am not interested in wearing it. It seems a little too youthful for me, personally.
Deb: How has your cancer diagnosis and treatment affected your approach to fashion?
Cathy: Being diagnosed with cancer made me want to get up every day and put myself together. I had a great wig and some hair pieces that I would wear a hat or scarf over. I was not about to walk around looking like I had cancer (cancer was not in control!) and did not ever want to have anyone feel sorry for me. I continued my fashion posts on the blog, dressing like I usually would. I wanted to show women that they can still be you even though they are going through a medical issue. Make-up was my friend too!
Deb: What advice would you offer women recently diagnosed with breast cancer (or any cancer) and undergoing treatment? Are there things you wish you knew when you were diagnosed?
Cathy: When going through breast cancer (or any cancer), my most extensive advice is to go to a specialist. I have an oncologist who only treats breast cancer. I think it’s essential always to have one or two family members or friends with you at appointments. There is so much information thrown at you at once, and it’s hard to remember what is said. Having someone write everything down helps tremendously. There are some tips and tricks when going through treatment, but it depends on what treatment it is. For example, if someone is given a drug that causes neuropathy in hands and feet, putting your hands and feet in ice during the treatment can help prevent neuropathy from happening. I am always available through email to answer any questions!
Deb: You’re a beautiful woman. Tell us about your beauty routine. Has it changed much from before your diagnosis until now? Were there any products you discovered that became must-haves in your daily routine? (Plus, you have been blessed with good genes as your mother is beautiful at 75! Any secrets she has passed down to you?)
Cathy: You are lovely, thank you! As you mentioned, my mom is 75 and looks 60! She is a skincare friend and has passed the gene to me!!!! At a young age, she preached to me about wearing sunscreen every day, before it was even talked about! She is a big believer in masks and serums. She has never had Botox, fillers, or a facelift! I, on the other hand, have had Botox! I am bothering my husband weekly about letting me do my neck. This is where I see the aging process!
My daily routine is Cle de Peau soap for cleansing and their balancing lotion. I use Skinceuticals Vitamin c e ferulic, La Mer, the moisturizing lotion, their SPF 50 m-61eye cream, and Charlotte Tilbury Magic Cream before I put on makeup (which has a sunscreen in it). At night, I use Cle de Peau soap mentioned above, Tata elixir vitae wrinkle solution, La Mer moisturizing cream, and m-61 eye cream. My skin dried out so much during chemo and is still very dry. I swear by La Mer, the moisturizing cream. I still have super chapped lips and can’t find a remedy for that. Makeup is a total cluster! I use so many different things!!!
Deb: One of your recommendations to your readers is to have an open discussion with their daughters about breast cancer. I read that your daughter moved back in with you and your husband to help take care of you during your treatment and recovery. How was breast cancer changed and strengthened your relationship with your daughter Alex?
Cathy: Yes, please, mothers or grandmothers, talk to your girls about breast cancer! I am in an online support group and read almost every week about a girl diagnosed in her late 20s or early 30s. I believe that the environment plays a considerable role in younger women diagnosed with breast cancer and auto-immune diseases. My daughter was with me for every appointment, surgery, and chemo. I have two boys, but dealing with the breasts was much more of a “girl” thing. My husband was massive support for me too! He was with me for everything! The two of them kept me laughing throughout the process! The cancer diagnosis strengthened our family bond for sure.
Deb: Best styling tips or tricks you can pass along?
Cathy: Ratio is everything. Wearing something tighter on top with something looser on the bottom or vice versa is a good rule of thumb. Having a good tailor is essential too! Baggy is not always suitable for hiding weight, as it can make you look bigger. A loose belt over a baggy dress can help give some definition and draw your eye to the narrowest part of the body. Flare jeans and a wedge shoe are your friends for lengthening your legs, and a smile always helps!
Deb: You wear the outfits you feature on your blog to actual events and occasions. Do you ever style an outfit specifically to show on the blog without wearing it out in public?
Cathy: Many of the outfits I show on the blog are actual things I wear out and am comfortable in. I’ve shown a few things that I styled to show. Dressier items are put together for the look. I wish I had more occasion to dress up, but honestly, my life is not that interesting!!
Deb: I enjoy the feature on your blog of the four women of varying ages showing how to wear one trend. How did you get involved in this collaboration, and why do you think it has been a big hit with your audience?
Cathy: The “Chic at Every Age” post you refer to is done once a month, and I am so happy that you like it! I approached Heather of Sylebyfluent (40-year-old) and told her that I thought it would be a cool post to do. She found our 30-year-old girl, Sam (Style of Sam), and our photographer Mary (So Then They Say Blog), found our 20-something girl, Ashley (Sidesmilestyle). We love getting together and shooting for this monthly post. We all decide what we want to feature, be it a sundress, flare jeans, etc..…then try to get the exact piece to style the way our age would wear it. Now that I live in Nashville and they are in Dallas and Fort Worth, it takes some organizing! We usually shoot 2-3 outfits in a few hours. I think our readers like it because it gives them four different ways to wear a piece or look.
Deb: Your thoughts on the secret to great style?
Cathy: Great style comes from being confident in who you are. It’s taken me a long time to get there! I dress for me and no one else, and if someone doesn’t like it, I don’t worry about it anymore. A smile goes a long way too!
Deb: What advice can you give to women struggling to feel fabulous again after cancer or any difficult period in their lives? Cathy: I think being gentle on yourself after going through a rough time is critical. You made it through, so take some time to pamper yourself. Know that life will be better on the other side of the crisis. It may take some time, but you will get there!
Deb: Thank you so much, Cathy, for sharing your inspiring story, advice, and style. You are Fabulous!! Ladies, visit Cathy at her blog, The Middle Page.