Petal Charitable Trust works with women to replace eyelashes after cancer treatment
Celebrity eyelash artist Ashley Allen remembers the first time she was asked to do eyelashes for a woman going through chemotherapy.
It was almost four years ago, and there was little Allen could do.
Eyelash extensions need existing eyelashes to attach to, something many cancer patients don't have.
Allen, who is from west Auckland, was unable to help, but the experience stuck with her.
* Vaccine offers hope in treatment of breast cancer
* Where are more Kiwi women dying of breast cancer?
* Breast cancer patients 'caught out' by side-effects years later
* Call to fund $5000-a-month drug that 'gives people time'
When faced with a cancer diagnosis and chemotherapy, many women are prepared to lose the hair on their head, Allen said.
It was the loss of their eyelashes that can come as a brutal blow, she said.
"For some women, this is the point that they lose their femininity."
Allen owns Ashley Allen Lashes and has worked with stars such as New Zealand choreographer Parris Goebel as well as the back up dancers for Janet Jackson and Jennifer Lopez.
Allen launched the Petal Charitable Trust on September 3 to help women regain some of what has been lost through treatment.
"You can imagine that these women who are facing death and everything they have to deal with. Petal is about giving hope and a sense of feeling themselves."
Allen developed her own formulation and techniques to apply the lashes to women who have been diagnosed with cancer.
Alyssa Mackay was one of the first to work with Allen.
Mackay has been diagnosed with stage 4 cancer and has lost her hair, eyebrows and eyelashes after weekly chemotherapy treatments.
"Without my hair and my eyelashes I felt quite vulnerable. Often you feel quite powerless after the treatments.
"Having lashes gives you a sense of power by taking a bit of control of what's happening to you."
Mackay said she might not feel normal on the inside but she could look normal on the outside.
Eyelashes also performed a health purpose, protecting the eyes from day to day dust and particles.
Eva Foreman, from the Sweet Louise Foundation, argued that it was the small things that can make all the difference.
"The services that the Petal Trust offers is a way of replacing a person's self confidence and beauty and is a moment of pampering during such a difficult time."
The Petal Trust will be taking referrals from a number of agencies as well as working directly with women who meet the criteria.