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Tag Archives: lips

Cancer Free?

21 Jan

Recently I spoke with a co worker about his young son who had just been declared ‘in remission’. His son had been fighting a rare brain tumor for the past three years and is now officially done. What does it mean to be cancer free , in remission, etc.?  2011 was my first year since 2008 that I wasn’t in some sort of cancer ‘thing’; surgery, treatment, etc. In June of 2011 though, I was told that cancer cells were seen on PET scan, but in September the ultrasound showed no tumors. I had an appointment with one of my physicians this week and asked him if that meant I was done and there were not really cancer tumors, he said he didn’t know for sure…hmmm. When my co worker asked how I felt about the constant cancer scare, I said, ‘I’m here today and all we really have is today.’

So what does it mean to be cancer free. I think this statement means different things to different people depending on the type of cancer, how long the battle has gone on, how long they’ve been declared ‘cancer free’. For me, I still struggle, maybe because those words are still fresh and I’ve hardly been told that. I’ve been told, ‘this should be it,’ or ‘so far we think this has worked,’ but mostly what stays in my mind are the statements, ‘it’s back’, ‘there’s something suspicious on the scan’, or ‘I’m not sure, here’s the plan.’ I think in time as I hear it more, the term ‘cancer free’ will be a more joyous one. For now, I let friends and family celebrate while I look forward with apprehension.

This week I had bloodwork done to see if there were any changes or tumor markers detected. So for today, while I’m ‘cancer free’, I’m happy and nervous at the same time (it’s kinda a daily thing). I look at each and every day as a new day, a new opportunity to do something, to try something different, to make a positive impact on the world. I have been exhausted this week. My mind won’t stop thinking about the different things I’d like to do or accomplish. Being a cancer survivor I want to LIVE each day strong. Now I finally understand the whole LIVESTRONG thing. The thoughts and goals that have plagued my mind (and my sleep) have led me to this conclusion: because I’m a cancer survivor and because those cells always seem to be lurking around, I don’t want to miss anything. Do you know what I’m talking about? I don’t want to miss life. Sure I still have many responsibilities, job, family, etc, but I just don’t want to miss it and I feel myself running ragged to soak up every bit of life I can get. I’ve started exercising again, trying to sing again, learning spanish and french (nothing big, through a program on my new ipad), taking classes to become a life coach, but I still want to learn guitar, maybe write another book, the list goes on. It’s crazy, but it’s reality. How many of you hear those stories about people waiting to do _________until after they retire and end up dying before they even get the chance to try. We don’t have that kind of time. Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “Guard well your spare moments. They are like uncut diamonds. Discard them and their value will never be known. Improve them and they will become the brightest gems in a useful life.” Live now, start something. If you have a small spark brewing, jump on it. Dream big and go for it…and teach your children the same thing.

Today I wear, YSL Golden Gloss #17, Golden Cherry. It is a sheer red gloss with specks of real gold. I have to tell you it’s a little pricey, but holy cow, it’s probably the best gloss out there (I own four colors). It’s not sticky, it’s sheer, but also has beautiful ‘just enough’ color. I chose it because red lips is my thing, throw in some gold and what else can I say? Live

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Nature vs. Nurture

8 Nov

I have had a crazy, stressful week this past week.  I eluded to a certain situation in my last blog and this week everything exploded and I was caught in the firestorm.  Everything revolved around a single person and their actions which finally caught up to them.  I’ve always wondered if bad choices really ever caught up to some people (because some seem to get away with a lot more than others), well now I know, sooner or later they do.  It was interesting watching everything unfold and because I’m always curious about people’s stories, I wondered what this person’s story was that made him who he was today.  It raises the question. ‘nature or nurture’?  Did God make us this way or did our environment create us into who we are today.  I say both.  One of my husband’s favorite phrases when he’s on a stubborn streak is, ” That’s how God made me and no one can change that.”  I believe that to an extent but I also believe that environment can soften and mold us.  I can only imagine the type of person he would’ve been had his parents not reigned him in. I believe we are all created with unique personalities and temperaments but I think our families, friends, and the environment we are raised in mold us too; and then of course, the different choices we make throughout our lifetime direct us one way or another.

People are funny and interesting and knowing people’s stories not only help you understand them more, but accept them and love them too.  I’m not saying that you have to accept their decisions or how they treat you, but it gives you a better handle on things in terms of ‘being the change’ for people (even if it means walking away).  I’m hoping this event may precipitate a change for the better but who knows.  I read a quote which says, “Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced”-J. Baldwin.  I understand we need to face our challenges or challenging people head on whether change happens or not.  Maybe it’s just to plant the seed or to be a part of that ‘nurture’. We all have a voice and I’m so thankful after cancer that I still have mine.  We need to use it not only to spark change but to be a blessing to others.

This week I wear Bobbi Brown Rich Lip Color in Crimson.  It’s a rich, deep, wine-red, color and the newest to my ever expanding collection.  It’s great for the holidays and red is always that reminder to for me to live life to the fullest…wear it like you mean it!

Popularity

2 Nov

 

I was never very popular in school.  I wasn’t the prettiest or the most witty, no, I was the super shy, quiet, smart girl that sat in the middle of class; not in the front, not in the back.  I was not really invited to any parties and never really had a date until my senior year.  The only time my shyness was banished was when I sang.  Music stirred my heart, and my emotions were always transported through my voice.  I was not really depressed about not being part of the popular crowd because I was kind to everyone and had many friends because of that.  The flip side to that is that I was (and still am somewhat) a people pleaser.  Now, I have three kids, one of which is a teenager who just recently asked me about popularity.  He is the starting quarterback for the football team but he asked why it feels like all the trouble makers seem to be the popular kids.  I tried to do the ‘don’t worry about it be kind to others and be confident in yourself’ talk, but I remember feeling the same way.  It is so hard.

Recently, I’ve had to deal with a situation at work where I had to stand up to something that disturbed the status quo.  It has been very difficult for me.  I haven’t slept that well, and I’ve lost weight from the stress.  I realized that in my quest to ‘go along with things’ or to be popular, I have lost my own opinion and ‘gumption’.  For me, wanting to be popular equates to wanting to be liked by everyone and with my work situation, there are definitely people that will not be pleased in the end.  It is virtually impossible to please everyone and to be liked by everyone.  I told my son that more important than being popular is knowing who you are and what you believe in.  Popularity changes with each second of the clock so it’s critical to be true to yourself and stand on the foundation that God made everyone unique. I stepped forward at work and said something ,and even though I’m stressed about the decision, I know it was the right thing to do.  It’s a risk to be yourself, not caring whether your opinion is well liked or not, but it’s important.  Don’t lose your voice just to be liked or popular.  We were all created for a unique purpose and if we try to be like someone else, we lose a little. 

Today I wear Lancome’ Color Design lipstick in Curtain Call.  It is a sheer deep raspberry which looks amazing on my medium skintone, it’s great for the season.  Not only is it a great color, it’s got a great name.  This is your curtain call.  Wouldn’t it be great to come out as you?

Ownership

27 Oct

This week I celebrated my birthday.  You all know how much I love birthdays.  This was my first birthday since 2008 that I did not have cancer, was preparing for treatment for cancer, or recovering from cancer surgery or radiation.  It was a little bittersweet for me because I had to be in Philadelphia for a work meeting.  Although I hated being away from my family, I had fun with people I had trained with before, but I also met a new lovely woman who I know I will continue to stay in touch with.  For this meeting, my roomate was a beautiful girl who was almost 20 years younger than me.  It was great and interesting to get to know her as well as my new friend who is almost 20 years older than me.  I loved listening to their stories and perpectives on life, work , family, etc., and what led them to make the decision which led them here. 

For this birthday, like every birthday, I looked back at my life and everything I’ve been through and also looked ahead with apprehension.  I am comfortable with the decisions I’ve made and the path I’ve taken.  There are many things we cannot control, you know, “life is 10% of  what happens to you and 90% of how you react to it” (Stephen Covey). We all decide which path we take in each situation, whether it’s which peanut butter to buy, which doctor to choose, which job, etc…what most people don’t want to do many times is take ownership on those decisions.  Sometimes we  blame the situation or end product of our own decision if it is not what we thought or planned.  Looking back, I have made many decisions that I thought I may have regretted but I look at where I am today and I’m content and feel very blessed.  I would not have chosen to have cancer, but I did choose to fight it and believe in a  positive outcome. Let’s own up to the decisions we’ve made and change our perspective a little, there’s no going back.

Today I wear Bobbi Brown lipstick in Chocolate.  It’s actually a soft , creamy medium brown which on me has a hint of a plummy undertone (probably my lips).  It’s great for fall and not as dark as it sounds or looks.  I chose it because it was my birthday and I love Chocolate (as well as the color).

Safe Haven

19 Oct

Today I had an appointment with my brilliant speech pathologist.  She has a PhD in speech pathology and also a love for music.  She has worked with opera singers and world renown choirs  so I trust her immensely with my fragile vocal cords.  If you’ve been following my story, you know that I am a singer and it is a deep passion for me.  You also know that the first surgery for my cancer permanently paralyzed my right vocal cord.  Eventually, cancer continued to spread handicapping my left vocal cord.  I have worked with Dr. Menaldi (and voice specialist Dr Rubin, MD) each and every time to restore my voice constantly giving me hope that I will speak well and I will sing again.  Through hard work and their constant encouragement I have been able to sing again (miraculously). Last June when the doctors saw cancer cells once again on PET scan, I gave up trying to rehab because I didn’t see the point.  Of course,  in September when ultrasound showed no tumors, I decided to resume and now I am back to ground zero.  Back in June I gave up on the singing, I grieved and I finally let it go. Today Dr. Menaldi said ‘no’.  My neck has taken a beating, but she will work with me until I am singing fully once again.  I never thought a doctor’s office would be a safe haven for me.  Since I have been diligently coming to this office for almost four years now, I have become friends with not just the doctors, but the staff.  They know my story, they have cried with me and encouraged me.  They have seen me at my worst and have followed my cancer journey every step of the way (not by choice of course).

It hasn’t always been easy for me to open up and be vulnerable, but illness left me with no choice.  I feel very fortunate to have quite a few ‘safe havens’; places where I can be myself, free from the worry of what others may think.  I count my friends and family, my home, and now my doctor’s office as safe havens for me (in my case, I also have to include the lipstick counters).  We all need at least one place because if you’re anything like me, it would be so easy to withdraw and have the only safe haven in the confines of your own brain…totally not safe!  So wherever it may be, a doctor’s office, a lipstick counter, or the comfort of your own room, find a place where you can be you to take the pressure off having to answer “everything’s fine”  all the time!

Today I wear Tarte Lipsurgence Liptint in Moody.  It is sheer deep berry colored stain which I love. I also love the name because sometimes I am moody (especially if my thyroid meds are off), and the people associated with my safe havens let me be that way!

Special

11 Oct

Last week a great man passed away.  Yes, we all know that Steve Jobs of Apple passed away but that is not who I’m talking about today.  Yes, Steve Jobs was an incredible mind, innovator and inventor, he changed how we communicate today; but I’m talking about a man named Al.  Al was also a man in his 50’s, married with children.  For the past few years, my family and I (sometimes just my husband and I) frequented a local family restaurant.  The food was good and inexpensive and the atmosphere was extremely relaxed and family-friendly.  Al was the owner.  The first time we came, Al introduced himself, asked our names, and said welcome.  Subsequently, anytime we would come in, he would greet us by name and stop to chat every now and then.  Throughout the years (6 years to be exact), Al would have us taste the new soup he was trying to sell, bring us small desserts ‘on the house’, and after learning that I liked his warm rice pudding with whipped cream on top, he almost always brought some to the table for me.  That’s the man he was.  He remembered our names and what we liked.  If he wasn’t talking to us, he was wandering the restaurant talking to the other customers.

His funeral was last Saturday and hundreds of people showed up.  What made him so special?  He knew people’s names, he looked you in the eyes and focused on you when you spoke, he remembered small things about you and would ask how you were, he treated everyone special, regardless if they were there for a cup of coffee or for a full meal.  Al had customers of all ages and walks of life, he always had a smile on his face and you could tell that he cared.  About a month ago, my husband and I were there without the kids and he sat with us awhile and told us he sold the place.  We were sad that we wouldn’t see him so much, but happy he could finally relax and spend more time with his family.  On October 5th the world lost a visionary in Steve Jobs, but in our small community, we lost a man who cared for each of us.

How easy it is to make people feel special.  Remember their name, look them in the eye, care about their answers when you ask a question.  It makes a such a difference. I recently heard a quote, “There’s no rewind in life but it’s always being recorded.”  Think about it,  people everyday are recording or remembering your actions and you can’t take things back.

Today I wear Dior Addict Lip Polish  in Glow Expert in honor of Al because I know he made that conscious effort to make every person he interacted with feel a little more special and leave his restaurant with a glow.

Memories

4 Oct

This past week I went to dinner with a group of girls, well women, that I was in a sorority with in college.  It was a mini-reunion of sorts.  Most of them I hadn’t seen in twenty years.  Prior to attending I debated going of course.  I wondered what we would still have in common after all these years.  I wondered if we would be able to keep a conversation (of course we would, we’re women after all).   I even wondered if I  still looked good, young, etc to go (dumb, I know), I mean we’re ALL twenty years older.  Anyhow, I stopped wondering and stopped looking for excuses and went.  It was great, it actually felt the same as it did 20 years ago.  I wasn’t close to all of these women back in college (some were younger, some older), but we had things in common.  We all went to the same college, lived in the same house, knew the same stories, and had memories from that time we could all laugh about.  I was also able to see one of my roommates and closest friends, Anne.  I believe the last time I physically saw her was as a bridesmaid at my wedding almost 20 years ago.  She still lives far away, but the timing was right and she happened to be in town.  Most of us are married, most of us are moms, and more than likely, most of us struggle with similar things on a daily basis.  We shared lots of laughs and memories of old boyfriends and different events (some of which I don’t think I wanted to remember).  It was not time wasted.

Me and Anne

I read a quote which said, ‘ Memory is a way of holding onto the things you love, the things you are, the things you never want to lose.’ The Wonder Years  The simple line that struck me was, ‘the things you are.’  Our memories, our past make us who we are today; we can’t erase or forget them.  Having cancer and going on that roller-coaster ride of emotions and memories I would rather forget has made me the person I am right this minute.  I am more self-aware and more selfish with my time, but I am also, stronger and braver.  As much as I want to move forward and forget the past few years, I realize that it’s the past that has given me this current strength.  We cannot live in the past and we also cannot base our lives on the memory of how we used to be.  We grow and mold ourselves daily based on our experiences and new memories.  Use your memories, both good and bad, to help you become wiser and stronger.

Today I wear Mally High Shine Liquid Lipstick in Blossom-a beautiful mauvey/plum because everyday, we blossom into someone new.

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