Last week I was in Seattle working a display booth for my company. I was there almost the entire week with a few co-workers and thousands of strangers from different countries. It was a long week spent talking and smiling but a couple of awesome things happened. On the first day I stumbled upon a Facebook post from a good friend and former co-worker who I hadn’t seen in over 10 years. We have kept in touch off and on over the years and when I arrived in Seattle we both realized we were working at the same conference for different companies, what are the chances of that? Seattle also happened to be the same place where we met! Anyhow, we scheduled a dinner together on one of our free night and were able to catch up on our lives, families, and where our careers have led us since being ‘down-sized’ 10 years ago. It is always so great to see and touch base with old friends; a great reminder of how time flies and how different people continually come in and out of our lives at different times.
Another great thing that came to my attention while seeking the magic, once again, was the power of eye contact and a smile. Literally with thousands of people around and hundreds of display booths, people appeared to not want to be bothered. Now I’m not saying there were people who were rushing to get from one place to another, but most people, no matter what country they were from, would stop to talk with just a friendly greeting, a smile, and eye contact. I had several great conversations both business and in general, and overall, people left with an ‘easier’ demeanor and a smile. ‘Let us always meet each other with smile, for the smile is the beginning of love’~Mother Teresa. Sometimes we only get one moment to make a positive impact on someone’s life, don’t you want people to walk away from you with a positive experience? Yes, a smile crossed all language barriers last week. People like contact with other people, they want to talk to someone who will listen and make them feel important, if even for a moment.
Today I wear Tarte LipSurgence Skintuitive Lip Tint in Energy. Now, you all know I love Dior Addict Lip Glow because it feels like a balm but brings out a natural pink shade of your lips, but this Tarte Lip Tint absolutely rivals that! The Tarte Lip Tint brings out a deeper and bolder berry color in my lips and as you know, Tarte has no parabens, phthalates, etc..I think the Dior Addict is more moisturizing but they are both beautiful and since they bring out your natural color, the color is always right for you! Cheers!
Last Tuesday I sang once again at the World Voice Day celebration sponsored by my doctor and a local hospital. It was another incredible night listening to singers and musicians from the local area. This event is always emotional for me because not only is it a celebration of the voice (which I’m so grateful to still have after all of the cancer, surgeries, and radiation), but it’s a chance to listen to other singers who have overcome different ‘vocal adversities’ and are also grateful to still have their voices. This was my fifth year singing and not only did I sing a solo, but also, last minute, sang a duet with my physician. Standing on the stage reminded me of how far I’ve come and how the voice is so fragile; every year I was either recovering or in the middle of treatment for cancer, this year, I was celebrating being cancer free, still having one vocal cord working, and yes, I cried like a baby after getting a standing ovation for my solo. You can see some of my previous Voice Day moments by clicking on the links on the side of my blog.
Saturday I ran in a 5K to benefit the local Leukemia and Lymphoma Society chapter. It’s very difficult to run because of my vocal cord situation and my impaired breathing but it gives me a sense of control over my body and it reminds me that despite the difficulty, I still can. This particular race I ran with a bit of a heavy heart. I have two good friends whose loved ones are currently in treatment for lymphoma; one a boyfriend, one a husband, both still young. Another close friend whose dentist noticed a lump in her neck, got results from her CT scan detecting a mass in her neck which will now be biopsied next week. Life is so fragile and as I ran with survivors, caregivers, patients, it struck me how people all around us have significant events weaving through their lives. My heart hurts for those struggling but also beats hard to be able to make a difference and to make my life matter.
At the end of the Voice Day celebration, a few people who currently had no voices came up to me and thanked me for my story. Again my heart hurt because I knew their struggle and felt their pain, but it also brought back memories of when I had no voice. Our voices and our stories are powerful, no one has the same ones. Why do we go through adversities, pain, and triumphs? To share our stories and to give people hope. If you are blessed to still have your voice I encourage you to share your stories, pain and all, because you never know who may need to hear it.
Today I wear Bobbi Brown Sheer Lip Color in Pink Blossom which is actually red/orange…not really pink despite the name. I LOVE these lipsticks because although they are called sheer, they have lots of color. They are extremely moisturizing and not heavy! I chose this color because, well, it brightens my day! Cheers!
Last weekend I spent some time with two friends I hadn’t seen for almost 17 years. We met when they were both young moms and I was just a newlywed. For about 5 years these girls and I met at least once a week sometimes 3-4 times, we shared struggles, vulnerabilities, lots of laughter and life. I was the first to move away (which was extremely difficult at the time), Dawn and her family was next to move, while Leanna stayed in the same area with her family. Thanks to Facebook and email, we have been able to keep in touch here and there and I have been able to watch their families expand and grow in every Christmas card I received. This year we finally took the extra step to coordinate our busy schedules to get together for a weekend in Chicago and I am so glad we did. We looked a little bit older, but our friendship seemed to start exactly where it left off. I still felt the closeness we shared years ago and we were able to talk as mothers and wives sharing laughter and tears. It was so refreshing to be able to let go and be authentic with good friends who share the same faith and whom I trust wholeheartedly. Friends like that are few and far between and I feel blessed.
Isn’t that what we lack these days? Life can get so busy and those kind of deep relationships take time. When you throw in the complexities and insecurities of women, it makes it even more difficult. Here’s the disconnect, those are the kinds of relationships people crave, right? I know I do. How do we get there? Time, yes, but also trust. I have met many people these days who require one to earn their trust, what if that never happens because there’s no time? I choose to trust first. It may be the wrong approach and it may leave me heartbroken but I can’t live any other way. How can relationships get deeper if no one wants to hold out their hand and be vulnerable? That’s my challenge to you and to myself also, take a chance on people, we need each other.
Today I wear MAC Sheen Supreme lipstick in Insanely It. These are probably the most moisturizing of the MAC lipsticks; somewhere between a lipstick and a gloss. They have lots of color and yet because of the consistency, it can be worn sheer. When I first saw this color which looks like a bright hot pink I thought there was no way it would look good on me. Surprisingly, I love it and I know it will be a favorite through spring and summer! So yes, the name is accurate, this hot watermelon pink is Insanely It! Cheers!
Today is the day. Earlier, I got the call from my doctor with the news I had been waiting for; benign, negative, no cancer detected. After a questionable result in my bloodwork in January, arguing with insurance to get a PET scan then finally getting one in March; finding inflammation on that PET scan which my doctor thought was breast cancer, having a mammogram last week…today was the day I got the call. I am officially cancer free (for now)! I asked about the reason for the abnormal bloodwork…’not sure,’; how about the lymph nodes in my breast area and armpit…’could be a number of different things.’ Oh well, today, like every day, life moves forward and I wait another 6 months for my next round of tests.
Here’s the strange thing, after constantly getting bad news over the years, I had conditioned my mind for the bad. Hearing the good today made me feel a little odd. I was not ecstatic, I felt that ‘hesitant’ happy. I still feel that way now so I guess I need it all to sink in and stew for awhile. Last week I came to the realization that this is my life, my ‘new normal’ is how post cancer patients call it sometimes. I don’t know if there will be a day when simple aches and pains, a cough, a sore throat, a swollen lymph node, etc will not remind me that it could be cancer. I don’t know if there will be a day that passes by without me wondering if I have a cancer cell floating around my body waiting to explode and start growing. But for today, my doctors and my mind tell me I am cancer free so I will continue moving forward seeking the magic.
Today I wear YSL Rouge Volupte Shine lipstick in Rouge in Danger which is a deep red. This is not quite a lipstick but has lots more color than the Sheer Candy formulations. I love the YSL lipsticks and glosses. They have full on moisture and feel luxurious on the lips, not to mention the fact that they have beautiful packaging. I chose this color because it’s red and bold, exactly how I want to be! Cheers!
*sigh* What a long week, emotions can be grating on the psyche. Remember a couple blogs ago I spoke about my friend and her boyfriend with the growth on his neck? Well, it was a rare fast growing cancer and he almost died last weekend…yes, from an unknown lump, to cancer taking over his whole body in one month. He received massive amounts of chemo and miraculously looks like he will be ok. Another friend revealed that her husband’s cancer has progressed and he is now starting treatment after a year of ‘watch and wait’. On Wednesday I did my mammogram which, well, if you’re a woman over forty, you know. I felt a little traumatized by the manipulation of my breasts in a giant panini maker, not to mention the pain. I’ve been a little sad because of everything, but this week was particularly difficult. With all of those things going on with me and around me, I was, and still am, overwhelmed with not just the brevity of life, but also how things can change so quickly. I am trying to be angry (to get over my sadness), but it’s not working yet.
The week still had plenty of magic to lift my spirits of course. Last Sunday was Easter and being a Christian, I am so grateful for what Christ has done and for His love and amazing gift of grace and forgiveness. I also met with some great friends this week, old and new. It’s awesome how God brings different people into our lives at different times. I believe there are no ‘accidents’ or concidence in meeting people and I am so thankful for all of my relationships. In Les Miserables, Victor Hugo wrote, “To love another person is to see the face of God“, a line which is included in the Finale song of the musical by the same name. Thank you to my friends, family, and all of you reading my blog and following my journey; God’s face is all around.
Today I wear Dior Dior Addict Lip Gloss in 643 Diablotine. I LOVE this gloss and color! It is super moisturizing, a little bit sparkly, and has great color for a gloss. This color is not quite hot pink, and not quite orange (which seemsto be the color of the moment)…it’s perfect! I chose it for today because I have been wearing it all week and for me, it is another perfect color for spring and summer! Cheers!
Well, the results are in! Remember the three scenarios I mentioned in my last blog? It was none of the above. No, no, a definitive answer would be too easy considering my cancer path. My doctor called and the good news is that my neck looks good! Nothing showing up on the PET scan in terms of ‘leftover’ cancer or new and obvious growth, so the number on my blood work results must have been a fluke or a variable they didn’t know about from the new test. It was great news for me because the treatment for anything new in my neck would be extremely risky. Ahh, but the news doesn’t stop there…he continued to say that there was something else. He asked if I was recently in an accident, or if I cut myself shaving, or if I was sick recently…no, no, no,….why? ‘Well, there’s some inflammation of some lymph nodes under your arm.’ ‘So what?’ ‘ He says, well, that’s typical of breast cancer, I want you to get a mammogram.’ ‘I have thyroid cancer cells in my breast?’ ‘No, this would be totally unrelated.’ ‘Hmmm, ok.’
So a mammogram is next and my journey moves forward. How do I feel? Nuts. It’s almost laughable. I cried a little because I just want this over with, but hey, it’s life and I’m still living, making the most of every day now more than ever.
Today I wear Chanel Rouge Coco Shine in Rebelle. These lipsticks are super moisturizing because they are like a lipstick/gloss hybrid. I chose Rebelle because it is the perfect pop of sheer red and ‘Rebel’ is in the name…I’m fighting back! Cheers!
The last couple of weeks have been difficult for me. From my last post you even read about how I thought I was losing my smile. With all the cancer stuff swirling in my head, I ended up extremely sad and I couldn’t seem to snap out of it. Anytime I would talk to someone and they would simply ask how I was doing I would start getting weepy. I didn’t feel like doing anything, it’s hard to describe, just overwhelming sadness. I had a couple friends ask why I wasn’t more angry or maybe even angry at God. Why get angry at God when He is the One carrying me through? I read somewhere that He either brings it or allows it for a greater purpose. Well, I’m waiting to see if that purpose is revealed soon or if I’m already serving my purpose by sharing my story? Who knows, but I can’t get angry because everyone is dealing with something in their lives trying to tear them down, right? I just wanted out of my pity party; my sad, teary, bursting into tears at any given moment mood.
Over the weekend something clicked in my head and I was done. Yes, there are still some underlying waves of sadness, but I feel my strength (or will) to move forward, to fight once again. Part of it was being tired of being sad and tired, another part was truly handing my heart and life to God and trusting His plan, and the last part was listening to some really great music. You know from reading my blog that I LOVE music and that words, tunes, and voices actually affect my heart. Well, over the weekend I played the piano and listened to some great songs that just lifted my spirit enough to push me. Songs like You Are For Me by Kari Jobe, Carry On by Fun, and Girl On Fire but Alicia Keys (I like a wide variety of music). I am a total believer in music therapy and honestly, the music helped me. A friend also reminded me that it was ok to cry, to feel weak. I have always tried to maintain an even mood and a positive attitude over this 5 year struggle, but I was just tired. So, I allowed myself to cry…a lot, and now I’m back…this girl is on fire! If you are feeling troubled or overwhelmed I encourage you to take the risk and tell someone. We are made for community; reach out, listen, make people laugh, and don’t judge. What may not mean much to you may mean the world to someone else. Take the time to be there. I am so thankful to those who reached out and continue to listen, to cry, and make me laugh.
Today I wear Givenchy Le Rouge lipstick in Carmen Escarpin…who could resist that fun name? It is a coral/red which is a hot pop of color for spring. This formula is described as semi-matte which I try to stay away from because of my dry lips, but it actually feels creamy and it is longer lasting. Until next time…Cheers!
Last week we spent a week in paradise. We got out of the cold and snowy Michigan weather and took a trip to beautiful Punta Cana. The weather was perfect; hot and sunny everyday, the sand was white and the ocean was beautiful and blue. Everyday was spent by the pool and beach and it was precious time spent with my family. Looking at the kids I realize that we only have a few years left with my oldest before he’s an adult; time slips by so fast. It was a great break from the cold but also the monotony of every day, busy life. I took some time to really think about everything that has happened over the past few weeks with the blood test and ultrasound and I couldn’t help feeling a little sad. If you read my Dear Cancer letter you knew that just a few weeks ago it was anger that I was feeling, but today, not so much. I guess I’m sad because this whole cancer/cancer survivor/possible cancer story will always be a part of my life, but not just me, those around me too. There were times on this vacation that I had trouble breathing. Whether it was the humidity, allergies, whatever it was, it was that constant reminder that cancer had taken something from me and I was sad. Another thing I noticed, which made me even more sad, was that I feel like I’m losing my smile (metaphorically speaking). Previous to all of this cancer stuff, I had no problems keeping a smile on my face but now, at times, it feels a little like a struggle and I hate it. Maybe it’s just now but I can’t really tell. I am desperately seeking out the magic and the blessing in every day and I still find it, but my smile seems to be fading a little. Anyhow, I guess it’s that whole cancer roller coaster that I can’t seem to get off of completely.
Just to update you all on what’s going on, since the ultrasound didn’t show any sizable tumors and my number was only elevated by a small number, my doctor thought that it was not a medical necessity to do the PET scan yet, but he said as soon as my insurance will cover it (October), he will schedule it right away. So now, we wait…again. I thought I would be able to forget about it for awhile because I trust my doctor and his decision, but the thought of that elevated number keeps popping into my mind. If you’re a praying person, I’m asking for a little peace until October. I trust in God’s plan and I’m mainly praying for the peace and the freedom to live every day to the fullest…with an easy smile on my face. Thank you for walking with me on my lipstick journey.
Today I wear YSL Golden Gloss in Golden Shell which is a sheer pinky beige color. First of all, these glosses have real gold flecks in them and are a little pricey, but I LOVE them. The texture, color, and consistency of these are awesome! They have some vibrant colors that I also own and they are all beautiful and can be worn on their own or on top of lipstick. I chose Golden Shell because it reminded me of the sand on the beach. Cheers!
I want to break up. It’s not me, it’s you. You keep wanting to get back together and for whatever reason, my body lets you. Well I’m done, I’m sick of all the game playing and I’m sick of you messing with my mind. I wish I could say that my relationship with you has made me stronger, braver, more courageous, but I just don’t know anymore. Now that you’re trying to get back together only bad feelings come up. You have made me more insecure about myself, you’ve made me sad, and I have shed too many tears because of you. You not only affect me, you have widespread effects on people I love and care about. They don’t even know what to say anymore; you leave a train of destruction and pain. It may surprise you but I love my life, and yes, thank you for opening my eyes and my heart constantly to the blessings around me. Are you trying to teach me something? Is there a lesson to learn? Well I got it, I’m good, so please stop showing up. Don’t underestimate me, I am not going down.
So here we are at another crossroads. Are you back to taunt me again? Will you ever leave me alone? Hate is a strong word that I never use, but I’m beginning to hate you. You have broken my heart over and over, but I will not let you break my spirit.
PS I am ready to fight so I am wearing my Kat Von D Painted Love Lipstick in Hellbent!
What a week! This past week I was out of town for an important meeting with my new company. It was both exciting, because of some new things we are doing, and stressful, because we were also being tested on new information. All in all, it was fun because the company is small and I was able to spend time with some great people from across the country. This week I also found out that one of my former colleagues was tragically killed in a car accident leaving a wife and four young children. I was not close to him but remember having a few conversations at corporate functions. Just the thought of him leaving for work in the morning and not coming home puts a knot in my stomach and it is once again the reminder of the brevity of life.
Anyhow, this week I got the news I was waiting for. On Tuesday while I was sitting in one of the general sessions of my meeting I received a call from my doctor, the results of my blood-work were in. So here is what I was thinking leading up to this, it’s been over two years, a few scares along the way, but if this blood-work was clean I was going to be able to finally start breathing a little easier about the cancer coming back. It would be the longest time between cancer ever coming back and in my head I would’ve been ‘semi’ home free. Unfortunately the news was not what I wanted to hear. My number was outside or above normal which indicates cancer somewhere in my body. Not exactly the news I was expecting. There are many questions and unfortunately no answers. My doctor said that since the test is so new and the patients that need it are so rare, he is not aware of any possible variables in the number. So what’s next? PET scan and ultrasound to determine if, what, and where. Another obstacle to getting more answers, since changing jobs, I have new insurance and right now my new insurance may not cover those tests until May because of a pre-existing clause. So, all of this during a very important company meeting…it was too much. Fortunately, because I am an actor, I kept my game on and did extremely well at the meeting and the testing despite the fact that since receiving the news on Tuesday I slept very little and was trying to keep tears at bay, talk about extreme emotions.
For today my heart feels a little heavier and my head is swimming but I am still trusting in God’s plan. Today I wear Laura Mercier Lip Glacé in Brownberry. I love these glosses because they are not too sheer, moisturizing, and feel great on the lips; they also have a vanilla smell. I chose this color because it gives me a perfect natural color for everyday. It’s got a hint of berry but is still natural. For now my journey continues, not yet fully confident but still with that hint of hope. To be continued…..