By Gina McGinness

Hampton Union, Friday, October 28, 2005

[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]

Paula Slattery, who was diagnosed five years ago with breast cancer, is an image consultant in Hampton who has used her talents to help other cancer patients. She says she’s never charged a cancer patient for a consultation. [XXX Photo]

For Paula Slattery, mammograms were routine. In April 2000, Paula, then 47, went in for her annual exam and never gave it a second thought.

She went on vacation in Florida, and while there received a call from her son, relaying a message from her doctor, stating that she needed a second test.

Following a needle biopsy, Paula found out that she had breast cancer.

“Once you know they are looking for something, you prepare yourself,” she said.

Her first reaction was “shock and disbelief.” Paula had no risk factors.

At the time of her diagnosis, she was coaching the girls tennis team at Central Catholic in Lawrence, Mass. She had a match the day she received the news.

Paula coached the match and, afterwards, she told the team of her condition.

“I can continue with my life, or cry,” she said.

She chose to live her life.

Paula never wanted to make her trips to the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston for chemotherapy just another “sick day.”

She scheduled activities such as shopping, lunch with friends, swan boat tours, and watching her son play tennis at college.

Paula’s treatment consisted of a lumpectomy, three months of chemotherapy, and 6 ½ weeks of radiation.

She lost all her hair, and was very tired from the treatments. She wore a wig. People who did not know of her circumstances would ask, “Who did your hair? It looks great.”

In the 1990s, before her cancer, Paula owned a Color Me Beautiful business and worked out of Topsfield. She was the top image consultant for the company. She sold that business to an employee in 1996.

After her recovery, Paula went to work for Letourneau’s Health Care in Andover. While there, she helped cancer patients fit wigs and breast prostheses.

In 2002, Paula and do her husband sold their Andover home and moved to Hampton where she started her business, Image With Panache, in January of this year.

As an image consultant, she guides people as to the best color, jewelry, hairstyles, make-up application and clothes that would flatter them the most.

“It is all about coloring, body shape and personality,” she said, “People want instant gratification, and I can give them that.”

She said she never thought that she would be applying her skills on herself, as a cancer patient.

And now she has worked with other cancer patients.

She helps them to draw eyebrows when they lose their hair. Many of her clients see themselves without hair for the first time in her office.

“They just need to talk,” she says.

Paula will soon be carrying a line of wigs to further help people who have lost their hair during treatments.

She has never charged a cancer patient for a consultation.

“It is so important to help people,” she said. “The biggest thing that I can do for a cancer patient is to give them hope.”

[Image with Panache is located at 92 High Street in Hampton.]