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A New Lease On Life
Written by Liberty Craig   

Shannon KeenanAt age 48, Shannon Keenan was beginning to feel the effects of the past decade, reflected most acutely in her face. We all struggle against the gravitational pull of physical aging at this time in our lives, but for Shannon, it had been a difficult decade indeed. Eight years ago, Shannon gave birth to a little boy with special needs who required close attention and constant care. Motherhood can be tough; mothering a special needs child can be even tougher. Shannon quickly began to understand what it means to be a mother, to put your child's needs and desires before you own.Three years later, when she was eight months pregnant with her second child, Shannon learned that she had breast cancer. And thus began a whirlwind of overwhelming activity.

Shannon was induced two weeks before her due date so she could receive cancer treatment. A few days after the birth of her healthy little girl, Shannon had a lumpectomy. Then she underwent chemotherapy. Then radiation. Any woman who is a mother or is close to someone with children can empathize with this extremely difficult situation: a newborn baby, a special needs child, and the trauma of ongoing breast cancer treatment, all at the same time. Any one of these is difficult enough on its own; the convergence of events in Shannon's life is nothing short of unimaginable.

"It all happened so fast," said Shannon from her home in South Surrey. "I had no time to think, which was probably for the best. I just sort of went into survival mode."

Fast-forward to today. November 2010 marks Shannon's five-year milestone in her cancer remission, the time at which a cancer patient is generally considered cancerfree. Her children are now aged eight and five. And now, finally, Shannon can begin to think about herself just a little.

A Fresh Start for Shannon

Shannon, before When Fresh Vancouver approached Shannon about the possibility of doing a makeover, she was elated. "I had aged rapidly in the past few years," she said. "It takes its toll to look after everyone else's needs first. I looked tired and angry – even when I wasn't! I just wanted the way I looked on the outside to match how I feel on the inside, which is happy!" Shannon's makeover journey took her to the Delta Skin and Laser Care Centre, where Dr. Marcia Fleming assessed Shannon's skin tone and problem areas, and created a course of treatment for her. "I felt nervous when I first went to Delta Skin and Laser," remarked Shannon. "I worried they would consider me the worst-case scenario. But everyone was wonderful – the entire experience was absolutely amazing."

Shannon felt uncomfortable with a number of problem areas that she was forever hiding or covering up. These included dark sunspots on her face that she religiously slathered with concealer before leaving the house each day, and creases in her earlobes that she covered by wearing earrings everywhere she went. She was also self-conscious about the lines around her mouth, and particularly the frown line between her eyes that she felt made her look angry. Dr. Fleming felt that Shannon's concerns were typical of a woman her age, though the dark spots on her face were indicative of extensive sun damage. But she felt that Shannon had good skin tone, with excellent subcutaneous tissue. Her skin hadn't "deflated" or become creped, and Dr. Fleming knew it would respond well to treatment.

Treating Shannon to a Variety of Treatments

Shannon, treatments Dr. Fleming started Shannon on a course of treatment that began with the Skin TX Hyperpigmentation Program, created by Vivier Pharma. This at-home remedy is a fivestep skincare program that must be applied twice daily. The combination of alpha hydroxy acid, vitamin C, vitamin A and hydroquinone in the lotion works to decrease pigmentation, which facilitates greater effectiveness of the IPL treatments that Shannon would also receive. Said Shannon of the Skin TX Program: "My skin looked better right away. I had more even skin tone and it literally made my skin radiate!"

The next step in Shannon's facial makeover was the Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) treatment, also known as a photo facial. IPL uses light energy to target the epidermis, or outer layers of the skin. The treatment is particularly effective for removing dark hyperpigmentation spots like Shannon's. Dr. Fleming usually recommends four to five treatments for sun damage of this calibre, though in Shannon's case only two were completed during the course of her makeover. The IPL treatment literally lifts the dark pigmentation to the surface of the skin, where it takes on a coffee-grind appearance and is darker and more uneven than before. It can be removed with a 30-minute microdermabrasion (as was done with Shannon) or will eventually exfoliate naturally. Each treatment has an immediate, noticeable effect, and the cumulative effects can be outstanding.

Shannon, after Dr. Fleming continued Shannon's makeover with two Titan treatments spaced four weeks apart. Titan is an infrared light with a longer wavelength than IPL. The long wavelength targets the dermis, the deeper layer of skin, to stimulate collagen production and lift the skin. Titan is an effective method of bringing back that youthful look to the skin; it is also the best preventative procedure for aging skin, according to Dr. Fleming. "The great thing about Titan," said Dr. Fleming, "is that we can fool the body into stimulating collagen without traumatizing the skin." While results are noticeable immediately, the best results are apparent six months after treatment. Next step: Botox. With great attention to subtlety, Dr. Fleming applied Botox to Shannon's frown lines, crow's feet, and upper lip. She also used it to soften Shannon's depressor muscles in the lower face, which are responsible for the unintentional "sad face" appearance. "We just wanted to make her look more rested and happier," said Dr. Fleming. "Nothing unnatural or too 'frozen' – people should never be able to tell you've had Botox; they should only notice that you look better."

On the same day as the Botox treatment, Shannon also received three tubes of Juvederm filler. Her cheeks were plumped, her "marionette" lines that create the down-turned mouth were softened, her nasal-labial folds were decreased, and her lips were touched up just a little, since lips naturally deflate as we age. The most unusual treatment was the tiny bit of Juvederm that Dr. Fleming injected into each of Shannon's earlobes. "I had always felt self-conscious about the creases in my earlobes," said Shannon, "and now all of a sudden they're gone!"

The Final Result

Dr. Fleming is very pleased with the results of Shannon's makeover facial procedures. And Shannon? "I've never done anything like this. I feel like a million bucks!" Shannon says she feels prettier, younger, and more inclined to take care of herself now that she sees how good she can look. After years of putting everybody else's needs before her own, battling cancer while raising her children and handling the demands of her special needs son, Shannon can begin to think about herself again; feel good about herself once more. "It was like going for a manicure and pedicure, times a hundred," she says. "I couldn't have asked for a better experience, and I'm so thankful to everyone who participatedd."

And the best part: "I really think I look ten years younger!" exclaims Shannon. "I'm 48, but I feel like I'm in my thirties again!"


Liberty Craig - Editor

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