WKND Spotlight: Breast cancer warriors get beauty ‘boost’

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BEFORE & AFTER: Mum-of-four Maria Francia Vizcaya
BEFORE & AFTER: Mum-of-four Maria Francia Vizcaya

Dubai - Dubai makeup artist Arwa Beig is using her skills to give back to the community with makeovers for the deserving

By Zubina Ahmed

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Published: Fri 23 Oct 2020, 6:26 AM

Last updated: Sun 25 Oct 2020, 10:04 AM

A lash-enhancing mascara, a touch of red lipstick, or a stroke of pink blush — the power of makeup can definitely make a woman feel transformed and confident. Dubai resident Arwa Beig knows this all too well — which is why the 20-year-old has been using her skills as a professional make-up artist of late to give back to the community through beauty makeovers.

Arwa launched her first beauty initiative on her 20th birthday last month to acknowledge female frontline workers who’ve been working to keep the city safe through the pandemic. Through it, she hoped to take a small step towards promoting women empowerment, by giving four well-deserving doctors and nurses a day of pampering.

“The love and overwhelming response that followed has given me so much positive reinforcement and put me on a path of giving back to society in whatever capacity I can. My first project with frontline women workers gave me a perspective like no other and I believe such gestures — no matter how small — can make women feel heard, appreciated, and loved,” she says.

Next, Arwa decided to give makeovers to three cancer patients — two of whom are still undergoing treatment and one who has successfully managed to recover — in honour of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The three survivors who underwent the makeovers were Maria Francia Vizcaya, Asra Azmat and Narine Geroyan. “I ran a competition on social media, asking for survivors to share their stories. I read so many amazing stories, but these three inspiring cancer fighters moved me the most,” says Arwa.

The project is especially close to her heart as she has seen her mother Zoha battle and recover from cancer. “My mother had breast cancer for more than two years and I saw how hard it is to believe everything is going to be okay. I just wanted to give these survivors a moment to let go of their stress, enjoy and have fun. I want them to remember this day as being recognised for how they far they’ve come,” she explains.

The makeover included more than just makeup. The artist and her team remodelled them with a new outfit, jewellery and hair styling. And the reaction of the survivors was, as expected, priceless.

TRANSFORMED: Narine Geroyan
TRANSFORMED: Narine Geroyan

“When they selected me, it sounded like a fairy tale. What they did for us means a lot to us,” says Armenian national Narine, who has been living in the UAE since 2008. Narine was diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer in 2015. “It was a very long treatment plan where I had to undergo mastectomy, eight cycles of chemotherapy, radiation therapy, Herceptin treatment, and a maintenance plan every six months. This year, I have become cancer free,” says Narine.

Mother-of-four Maria has been working in the UAE for over 13 years. The Filipino expat was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2018, had breast surgery and six cycles of chemotherapy. “Since then, I have been actively participating in various breast cancer awareness campaigns until my cancer relapsed in May this year,” says Maria.

After the makeover, the UAE resident says she could not hold back her tears. “I have never experienced a makeover like this in my entire life. As people can see, I don’t even have lashes or eyebrows. So, it’s the first time I’m feeling something like this.”

SURVIVOR: Asra Azmat
SURVIVOR: Asra Azmat

For Asra, the transformation was more about getting a shot of confidence, a morale booster, and feeling good in her skin. “I know I am beautiful, but I know I will be more so after the makeover,” says the survivor, who was detected with sarcoma cancer in 2015. She had to go through 17 cycles of chemotherapy; the treatment plan lasted a whole year. “The entire year was full of ups and downs, but I fought it all for my family. Today, I have completed five years and am now in the follow-up phase,” she says.

Inspired by the strength and resilience of these women, Arwa gave them a beauty makeover along with an evening of fun with dinner in a luxurious set-up. She even surprised them by gifting them a staycation package and a spa voucher worth Dh500. “Honestly, when I did their makeovers and saw them smiling, it warmed my heart so much, knowing that just a little bit goes such a long way,” says the do-gooder, who is making her mark in the world of beauty by helping women regain their confidence once again.


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