Tag Archives: lips

Worth It

27 Sep

Recently a close friend of mine went through a terrible break-up.  If you knew her you would know that she is a beautiful, strong and intelligent  woman.  As I listened to her weep on the phone from a broken heart, I wondered if it was worth it.  Three years of ups and downs, being completely vulnerable only to be left with a broken, scarred, insecure self.  Was it worth it?  Is it worth it to lay your soul bare?  I venture to say ‘yes’. I asked her this same question just a few days after the break up and she agreed without hesitation that yes, it was completely worth it.  She was able to open her heart and feel several degrees of emotion and is now a richer person because of it.  She opened herself up to love and to feel love, but when she did that, she also opened herself up to feel the hurt.

With all that’s transpired in my life over the past few years with cancer constantly coming back and reminding me that life is short, I wear my emotions on my sleeve.  I used to be much more guarded and protective of my feelings, but I can’t do that anymore.  When I’m angry I express it, when I’m hurt or sad, I cry, and when I love, I can’t hold back and my heart overflows.  I feel extreme emotions, am I an emotional wreck?  Hardly.  Cancer has made me stronger mentally, but it has also made me a person who craves realness; real, raw emotions, real feelings, real people, no more games…not enough time.

My friend will recover and she’ll be stronger from the experience.  The danger happens when the scars build up and we don’t allow ourselves to heal.  Each time I have surgery on my neck there are new and additional scars, each surgeon has had to cut through the old layer of scars to get to the cancer.  It’s true of relationships too, the hurtful ones add to the old scars and it’s difficult cutting through those to open up.  But, I look at my scar on my neck and it’s a reminder that I am strong and I persevered, and I know myself better.  We are all creatures that crave love but , pardon the cliche’, we need to give love to get love.  Open yourself up and be real, take those risks.  You may get to know yourself a little better along the way too… it is worth it.

For today I chose Fresh Sugar Tinted Lip Treatment in Passion, a sheer crimson red lip balm that feels GREAT on your lips.  I chose it because it’s sheer enough to let your true colors shine through, but it’s red and called ‘passion’ so it’s a reminder to live and love passionately!


21 Sep

OK, I admit it, I’ve been neglecting the rest of my body (from the neck down, that is).  For the past four years I have been back and forth to the hospital because of the cancer that keeps coming back to my neck, add in all the mood swings and craziness, well, my neck has been my sole focus for a long time.  What’s worse is that when cancer cells were found again last June, I got mad at the rest of my body.  I stopped exercising, I ate more junk food and candy, I drank a little more, etc…I thought to myself that if my body wasn’t going to cooperate, well, I’ll do what I want.

Since my recent ultrasound showed no tumors and now that my body is totally out of shape and feels like jello, I’m done.  I will be nicer to my body while I reacquaint myself with everything outside of my neck.  I am starting with a mammogram.  I am officially two years late on getting my baseline reading so today, my ‘girls’ will get special treatment and recognition.  I pray that they have no special ‘friends’ that have been hanging around with them.  I am also going to start exercising again, not just my body, but also my vocal cords.  I have allowed my cords to get tight and now, I definitely cannot sing and after a full day of talking, I end my days with a sore throat.

As fall in Michigan starts and the leaves begin changing colors, I will make peace with the rest of me.  We are given one life and one body and there are very few things we can control.  Despite the invasion of my neck, I can and should continue giving the rest of me my best (and you should too).  Treat your body well and once again, since it is Thyroid Cancer Awareness Month and thyroid cancer is one of the top cancer’s on the rise, check your neck!

Today I wear Nars-Fire Down Below (a matte blood red), because my body below my neck is screaming for attention!


16 Sep

This past week we remembered the tragedy of 9/11. The events of that day were played and replayed on the television and radio. There were numerous memorials and gatherings where people recalled where they were and how it affected their lives.  It was an event that we hopefully will never forget, but how soon we do forget.  Just a generation ago they were saying the same thing about Pearl Harbor, can you name the date of that tragedy which killed thousands?  After those events, we were more united as a country.  People were more united, friendlier, happier to be alive.  More people went to church, more people had hope for something better, do we still?  Anyway, it’s all sad.  All of our lives are marked with some sort of tragedy and most of the time only the closest will remember.

It’s like being diagnosed with cancer.  I remember each of the three times I got the call.  I remember the emotions, where I was, who I called, etc.  Now, with my temporary clean bill of health, it’s easy to forget I had cancer cells on my PET scan just a few months ago.  I move forward but I never forget.  When I cough or have a hard time breathing or swallowing because of my paralyzed vocal cord, I remember.  When my throat hurts in the morning and it feels tight, I remember; and when I look in the mirror and see the scar at the base of my neck, it is always a reminder of everything I’ve been through.  When the people I know and love look at me I wonder if they remember or if they’d rather forget.  It’s ok to move forward.  I love the resiliency of kids and I’m happy to say that when I act normal, I hope the kids forget for awhile that I was sick.  The only signs they remember is when I can’t control my cough; they look at me with concern.  Also, when planning for future events like a vacation, now they ask, “If you don’t have cancer this summer can we go on vacation?”.  Yes, we all change through tragedy, but some things we push down because it’s too hard to remember those feelings.  My memories always linger near the surface but it helps me be stronger and that is the hope after any tragedy, an extra dose of wisdom and strength for the future.

This month is Thyroid Cancer Awareness month (along with a few other cancers that have not yet claimed a month).  Those who know a little of my story know that I found the lump on my neck myself.  My voice was hoarse and my throat was sore so I massaged my neck and found a lump.  Take a few minutes and check your neck, you never know.

Today I wear Bobbi Brown Lipgloss in Bare Sparkle-a champagne colored gloss with a pearl sheen, gorgeous alone or on top of lipstick.  Memories are a beautiful, sparkly thing!


8 Sep

Have you ever been on the corkscrew roller coaster?  Well, that’s me, my emotions; not just easy twists and turns but jerky-whiplash-causing sudden turns.  I know I used the roller coaster analogy already, but this time I’m not talking just about the extreme up and down, I’m talking about the uncontrollable twists and turns…the corkscrew.  I do love a good roller coaster.  I finally had my follow up ultrasound this week to check if any of the cancer cells found on my PET scan last June had developed into visible tumors in my neck.  After the radiation techs did the initial test, they left to call the physician in.  As I laid there I thought about every possible case scenario (of course the worst is what I thought of first).  I thought of things like, what if there is tumor, a fourth surgery is extremely risky, radiation is out of the question, who do I call first, what should I tell my new boss, what if I cry in front of my doctor (which I hate doing), what if I’m not strong enough to hear the results?…I had to stop myself, my thoughts alone were making me cry.  I took a deep breath and tried to empty my mind.  When the doctor came in, he said ‘hello’ and said he’s always happy and sad to see me.  He said he loves seeing me because I’m a good patient, but he’s always sad because most of the time he’s the one that tells me there’s tumors in my neck again. Anyhow, he looked at my results and said, there’s nothing there, NOTHING!  For a moment I felt blank, not happy, not sad, but blank.  I think I didn’t believe him so I asked what he meant and he just said, there are no tumors and hopefully we won’t need to meet again for awhile.  WOW, big sharp turn.  I left there not completely believing it, it was and still is that hesitant joy that cancer patients feel.  My endocrinologist called me shortly afterward and said “Congratulations,”  followed by…”We’re still going to watch closely, let’s wait 4 months until the next scan.”  OK, so I buy another 4 months…I’ll take it.

I have to say, what is so awesome about this journey is the outpouring of support.  Now with the book, this blog, and my book’s fan page on Facebook, I not only get support from friends and family, but I receive encouraging words from complete strangers.  It overwhelms me that in our supposedly uncaring, selfish society there are so many rays of light!  I have made my journey public, but think about those who suffer in private.  We all want love and support.  Think about the people God has placed around you every single day and the power of an encouraging word.  I went through the McDonald’s drive thru and the girl’s voice was so pleasant that when I pulled up, I told her she had one of the nicest voices in a drive-thru I ever heard and that she was doing a great job.  I drove off with her beaming.  Thank you to all those who reached out to me but also consider those around you.  One word of encouragement can change a person’s face, demeanor, day, and even outlook.  For me, I will try to be more consistent about it because I know I need it and everyone has something going on.  Give it a shot and of course, wear that red lipstick!

My lipstick for this week is Kat Von D Lipstick in Hellbent, a rich red with a more blue base.  I chose it for the name because I am hellbent on kicking cancer!

Follow Your Heart

30 Aug

“Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked….follow your heart…Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition, they somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”-Steve Jobs

What a brilliant man. Think about it, why don’t more of us follow what’s truly in our hearts on a daily basis. Now I’m not saying quit your jobs and run away to do something crazy, because we all have responsibilities, but if we know our heart’s desires and dreams, why not take steps to go in that direction or somehow reinforce that desire daily or weekly? I still love singing, dancing, and music in general, they bring me joy, so now I play the piano longer, I sing in my car louder, I dance when I hear a fun tune and those things put a smile on my face; even hearing good music can stir my heart. We are all destined to die. For me, cancer gave me a warning and reminder that it may be sooner than later.

My son had a birthday party recently, 25 teenage boys and girls and talk about trying to live up to external expectations, yikes. The pressure teens face to look good, be smart, be popular, get into the right crowd, is tough, but it doesn’t change much as adults (especially as a woman). We all fear embarrassment or failure but what do we have to lose? What would happen if we did fail? So what? I would hope to teach my children to pick themselves up and push forward, not looking back. Life is too short and knowing that we all die no matter what should be freeing. For me, it lifts the burden of ‘what would they think…’ because when we die, does their opinion really matter? Be your own person; follow what’s in your heart because God put it there, and love people knowing that they are all unique and they all have hopes and dreams too.

RED LIPSTICK CHALLENGE: This past week I had an appointment with my radiation oncologist and wore bright red lipstick. (Tarte LipSurgence Natural Lip Luster lipstain in Fever—fun red, be brave). When the PA whom I’ve never met before walked in the room he looked at me and said, ‘Wow, where are you going after this appointment because you look great,’…all that before he introduced himself! Me and my red lips felt pretty satisfied. If you know some of my story you know that I used to want to hide my lips, now, red lipstick…hello, I’m here to live! Keep sharing your stories and challenges, I love hearing them! Talk with you soon….


22 Aug

This morning I was driving an hour to my first appointment and I started feeling sorry for myself.  The sun was out, I was off to work, my kids were being taken care of by my visiting in-laws today, and we had just come off a great weekend of visiting a themepark (always fun people watching at those places) and just overall relaxing.  I got mad.  I was mad because without the cancer, life is really great.  I asked myself why I still had to be here, year after year, scan after scan, still showing cancer????  I was mad that my family and my friends had to go through this again and I hate being the downer of the group.  The one who has to say, ‘yes, it’s still there,’ or ‘yup, got cancer again.’  I really want to be normal and worry about normal things like what I should wear tomorrow or if my shoes match.  Is this my new normal?  I guess it is, and I’m not happy about it.  Being sick sucks.  I don’t look sick, I don’t feel sick and yet some small cell in my body is trying to take over.  I truly am ok with whatever may happen to me, I’m not ok with the fact that my family and friends have to worry about me again.  I’m sad for them, I’m mad for them.  I’m mad that my kids have to wonder how it’s all going to turn out, I’m mad that my parents,  friends, and the rest of the family have to ask how I’m doing and be afraid of the answer.

I read a quote today, “Life challenges are not supposed to paralyze you, they’re supposed to help you discover who you are.”-Bernice Johnson Reagan (thanks Jennifer).  Well, I thought I had me figured out the first, second, and third time, but now I’m getting a little confused.  It’s that roller coaster again and today, yes, I’m mad about it.  Sorry to vent, it’s frustrating.  Is this challenge paralyzing me?  Of course not and I continue discovering new aspects of myself.  In fact, I hope I am becoming a better version of myself daily.  We should all strive to do that, cancer or not.

Today I wore Sue Devitt lipstick in Australian Bight.  On me it’s RED (I probably looked like a Geisha, oh well).  I know it gave me the fighting spirit to forge ahead.  In the next few weeks I will be seeing my radiation oncologist and getting another ultrasound to see if the tumor is growing so I am putting out a challenge.

I would like to put out a ‘RED LIPSTICK CHALLENGE’ for those of you who love life and have the fighting spirit.  Wear red lipstick daily for three weeks and e-mail me how you felt and any stories you would like to share.  With your permission, I will share a few anonymously.  For the men reading my blog, carry something red in your car or pocket as a reminder to live life and e-mail me too.  You can send all e-mails to lipstickjourney@att.net.

I can’t wait to read your stories!  Here are some suggestions for reds:  Bobbi Brown Burnt Red, Smashbox Marvelous, Lancome Merlot, Bare Escentuals Buxom gloss in Brandi, Covergirl Natureluxe Cabernet, Burt’s Bees Red Dahlia tinted lipbalm.  Have fun!

Tic Toc

30 Jul

“Five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes, Five hundred twenty five thousand moments so dear. Five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes, How do you measure, measure a year. In daylight, in sunsets, in midnights, in cups of coffee, In inches, in miles, in laughter in strife, In Five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes, How do you measure a year in the life”…Seasons of Love, from Rent.

Tic toc, all we have is time, how do we spend it?  I learned the news that I had cancer one week before leaving for training.  The last thing I wanted to do was leave my family and friends for three weeks and use those minutes with people I didn’t know.  I listened to this song on my way there and then again on my way back and I discovered that my attitude had changed.  On my way, I thought about the brevity of life and truly the limited time we have and wondered why I was leaving my family during such a critical time in my health.  On my way back, I thought about the new friends I had made and how those moments I spent on the new relationships impacted my life.  At the end of training we were given evaluations individually.  What my trainer told me was that in the beginning he couldn’t figure me out because I was so quiet, but in the end he said it turns out I was a quiet storm affecting one person at a time.  This made me cry.  Since cancer, my life mission has been to make a positive impact one person at a time and his statement was validation that I was doing something right.

You’ve heard me say this before but I will say it again and again.  We impact each person that we meet whether positive or negative, people walk away from each encounter feeling something about you.  Sometimes, it’s just a few minutes and in this case for me, it was three weeks.  What type of impact do you want people to feel after you walk away?  I choose to make it a positive one.  Yes, three weeks was a long time, but the moments I spent with certain people were not a waste of those precious 525,600 minutes.  People are not a waste of time.  So thank you to Michelle, Jennifer, Ashley(TX), Ashely(FL), Lauren, and of course, Fernando.  You have all impacted my life.

For my new friends I wear  2 colors, Chantecaille- Angel Skin ,  a soft pinkish nude, because you were all my angels during training; and Bobbi Brown -Burnt Red because it’s my reminder to live boldly (and because Fernando said he loves red lipstick).  Thank you for the shared tears and all the laughter.

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