Donna Oliveiro on cancer, motherhood and makeup

Donna Oliveiro is one of a kind. She’s a relentless dream pursuer, a makeup artist, and most of all, a loving mother. Her battle with cancer empowered her with a renewed determination to follow her calling – whilst learning how to appreciate good health, family and the little things.

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Her life took a shocking turn when doctors discovered a haemorrhage located directly behind her left eye. Donna was referred to Western Eye Hospital; MRI results revealed a frontal brain tumour, causing severe pressure on the optic nerves, resulting in her losing her eyesight. After two major operations and almost 30 months of simultaneous oral chemotherapy and radiotherapy, Donna’s health has been restored and her eyesight has improved by 90%. Full of gratitude, humility and purpose, Donna is not only a talented makeup artist, she is an inspirational woman who no longer waits for opportunities; now, she takes them.

She’s worked with industry-leading makeup artist Adam De Cruz as well as participated in many other shoots and events.

Nee Hao Magazine shares Donna’s story as she reflects upon her rekindled passion for life.

You’ve had some incredibly challenging moments in your life. How did you find it in yourself to take control and change it for the better?

When I first learned I had a brain tumor, I was utterly shocked and it took me a week to get my head around the devastating news. However, after about two weeks, I woke up one morning and something had changed for me. I had a beautiful baby boy of 10 months’ old and the thought of not being around to support him and see him grow up was just not an option for me. I immediately snapped out of ‘shock’ mode and decided there was no point in sitting around feeling sorry for myself.

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I absolutely had to be positive for myself and more importantly, for my son.  After that, I kept my head up, maintained a positive mind and underwent two and a half years of daily, oral chemotherapy and radiotherapy. I started to adapt to the anti-cancer diet alongside lots of natural vitamin supplements such as Curcumin and Castor oil therapy to cleanse my liver of all the compulsory drugs and treatment I had to have.

What’s your viewpoint on health, life and career? What is the right balance?

I don’t think there is anything wrong with being passionate about your career, especially if you really love what you do. However, allowing your career to affect your personal life is something I feel very strongly about.

It is a well-known fact that when we push ourselves too hard it can lead to a very stressful life and can affect our health.  Career is important but a healthy lifestyle and good personal and family relationships are of paramount importance.

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How did your family support you through this difficult time?

I found close friends from far and wide and family members from across the globe offering me words of support, praying for me and offering their help in any way possible. My mum and my sister were amazing. They held me up when I felt low. They took care of my son whilst I recovered in hospital for weeks on end. When I was discharged and sent home, they took care of me physically and mentally.

The daily chemo and radiotherapy severely affected my energy and strength and I found myself sleeping for days on end which in turn caused me to become worryingly underweight and having them both there for me twenty four seven became of upmost importance. When I forgot to take my prescribed drugs due to the sheer exhaustion of treatment, they were there to remind me. When I helplessly slept for days at a time, they watched over me and helped me to eat when I couldn’t help myself.  Without them, I strongly believe I wouldn’t be here today.

unnamed4What is it about makeup that makes you tick? When did you realise this was your calling?

I love my job. I only realised how much I adored make up when I was studying to be a beautician. A few months into my course, I began to realise that perhaps a career in the beauty industry was not for me. That was of course, until I studied the make up module in my course. It sparked something inside me which urged me to complete my beautician course and enrol on a diploma in make up artistry.

Today, my career as a makeup artist keeps me focused and makes me so happy.  It has given and continues to give me the opportunity to unleash my creativity and meet some fantastic, interesting, likeminded people who are as equally passionate as myself.  When I am on a really good shoot, I feel so free and lucky to be in a job I am so passionate about.

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After you’ve faced some terrifying moments, are you still scared of anything going forward now?

I think there will always be a part of me that fears the thought of my cancer returning but I strongly believe that living with a positive, mental attitude contributes greatly to my health. In my opinion, life is way too short.  If you believe you can do something, but you do nothing about it, you will never know. Grab life with both hands for you only live once.

The fashion industry is very competitive. How do you stay grounded and set your eyes on the goal whilst keeping motivated?

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My sister and I are extremely close and when she senses that I am losing sight of a goal she helps me to focus. Individually, I always try to remind myself of goals I need to achieve in my career and constantly feel so grateful for the opportunities I am given.

Your work is dynamic and flawless. What do you strive for more: technical excellence or creativity?

I think the way you act and work says a lot about your professionalism. I always try my best to strive for technical excellence. As far as I am concerned if I’m going to do something, it needs to be done properly or not at all.

What was it like assisting super makeup artist Adam De Cruz? 

Meeting and assisting Adam De Cruz is definitely one of the highlights of my career in makeup artistry.  He has given me many valuable opportunities to meet amazing people from similar industries and has taught me so many techniques that I still use when working. Adam De Cruz is an extremely talented, positive individual and encourages others around him to do the same.

What was the best highlight of your makeup artistry experiences?

Without a shadow of a doubt, it has to be when I’ve been assisting Adam De Cruz!

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Is there anything about your heritage that makes up an important aspect of your current life?

My mum and sister are both Buddhists and I often find myself inheriting the positive, free-spirited thinking that Buddhism promotes.

Donna’s portfolio can be found at donnaoliveiro.com, where further contact details can be found.

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