Tag Archives: vocal chord paralysis

This Girl Is On Fire

21 Feb

Dancing on the streets of Paris with a breakdance crew

Dancing on the streets of Paris with a breakdance crew

I have a friend that I see every now and then. She is the person who always has a book to recommend or an author or a new song; not a fiction book, some type of inspirational or self-help book, but never cheesy. She always has great advice, not too pushy, and the way she comes across, with her added expressions, never ceases to crack me up! She’s actually hysterical and no matter what mood I’m in, I leave laughing. Anyhow, I saw her recently and of course she opens with ‘I just read this great book’ (uh huh, I’m already smiling) ‘It was written by this incredibly strong woman’…’All right’, I say as I take out a piece of paper to write name and author, like always…’Maybe you’ve heard of it, it’s called ‘My Lipstick Journey Through Cancer’ by Anna Warner’. Me…blank stare back. Then she stares at me square in the eyes and says ‘that’s right, she’s in there, bring her back.’ Believe it or not, that small gesture touched me deep in my soul and I started to feel that fire again (cue the theme from Rocky). Who am I? I’m a girl who auditioned for a show 3 times before finally getting on, I fought cancer 3 times also, I pushed through a science degree when all I wanted to do was sing and dance, and when people said I couldn’t, I did all I could to prove them wrong. Heck yeah, I’m a fighter.

There have also been a lot of opportunities recently that have popped up. I was asked by an artist and vocal coach from Atlanta if she could use my story as part of her Vocal Workshop, of course, thank you Heather! A national cancer organization has also asked me to speak and share my story at a national meeting for young physicians. On top of that, coming soon is an event near and dear to my heart, the annual Voice Day celebration that my physician puts together, and I am still fortunate to be able to sing and be a part of that special day. This week I also met up with a couple old co-workers and it was really great. I am so incredibly grateful for all of my experiences, good and bad, but mostly for all the people who God has weaved in and out of my life and journey at exactly the right time. I love you all. ‘She got both feet on the ground, And she’s burning it down. She got her head in the clouds,And she’s not backing down. This girl is on fire…~ Girl on Fire,Alicia Keys

Today I wear an old favorite, Buxom Full On Lip Polish in Brandi. These lipglosses are not sticky at all and make your lips tingle a little. I love the color Brandi because it adds kind of a deep berry shade to my lips while still being a little sheer. Check out the box it comes in…yeah, this girl is on fire…watch out! Cheers!

Rumors and Lies

9 Feb

There have been several emotions swirling in my mind over the past few weeks (obviously); joy, sadness, anger, and fear because of various reasons. When I was young, I was shy, painfully shy. My parents are extremely social and we would either be at a party or hosting one. At those parties I was either attached to my parents’ hip or after doing the obligatory hello’s (and playing the piano…I am Filipino), I would try to escape to my room to read, write, or listen to music. I wasn’t sad or lonely, just a shy introvert who would be overwhelmed by crowds and having to socialize. My shyness carried on for pretty much all of my youth until college where I sort of blossomed. In Jr. and Sr. high I became involved in sports, choir, plays, student government. Then I was on a TV show and won a couple beauty pageants my mom encouraged me to join to increase my confidence and break out of my shyness. Despite those things, I was still shy, opening up to few, but kind to all. What happens when you have a few accomplishments and are mostly quiet? People talk about you, rumors, and even lies sometimes. Why? 1. To feel better about themselves, 2. To convince people that they are better than the person they are talking about, or 3. Whatever lies they are pushing, it’s because they are actually the one that’s guilty of said lie(s). Sometimes they repeat it so much, they actually start believing it…scary.

What does this all have to do with me today? Well, I just went through a divorce and am keeping quiet about the details. I have had really incredible support through both the cancer and the divorce from people who have done life with me, worked with me, family, and even people I have had very little interaction with. Why? My parents taught me well…love God, love others; practice patience, kindness, gratefulness. Although I can still get shy sometimes, I try with my actions to be and do these things; not always succeeding but consciously always trying to be a positive force. Today there are lies being told and believed by even a few of those who were close to me. Hurtful? Absolutely, but although my heart hurts at times, I can hold my head high knowing the truth and also feeling confident that the truth eventually comes out. Actions speak louder than words and sometimes your actions show people who you are. There is beauty in truth, even if it’s painful. Those who lie, twist life so that it looks tasty to the lazy, brilliant to the ignorant, and powerful to the weak. But lies only strengthen our defects. They don’t teach anything, help anything, fix anything or cure anything. Nor do they develop one’s character, one’s mind, one’s heart or one’s soul.”~ José N. Harrisanna2.9.14

Today I wear Nars lipstick in Heatwave. Nars is famous for great lipsticks. This formula is semi-matte so it’s a little drying for me but still great. I chose this color for the simple reason that I WANT SUMMER BACK!! Cheers!


18 Jan

There are certain events in life, both good and bad, that cause a shift in the way you see the world; your first kiss, the birth of a child, reaching a goal, and even a death of a loved one. These shifts can happen years apart or continually, fast and furious. The past few years for me have been the latter, fast and furious. Between cancer, my book, reaching certain goals, the death of my friend, deepened friendships, and even certain new people that I have met, all of these things have been one after another constantly changing my perspective and even showing me even more how awesome and beautiful this world is and the people in it. This past week I had another major shift happen in my life. Without going into great detail at this time, this shift brought feelings of both a death and a birth; the sadness and grief you experience from death coupled with the warmth, joy, and peace after a birth. My day ended with my view of the world being simple and beautiful despite the freezing temperatures and snowfall. An overriding theme to all these shifts is hope.

I have come to accept the feeling of not knowing where I am going. And I have trained myself to love it. Because it is only when we are suspended in mid-air with no landing in sight, that we force our wings to unravel and alas begin our flight. And as we fly, we still may not know where we are going to. But the miracle is in the unfolding of the wings. You may not know where you’re going, but you know that so long as you spread your wings, the winds will carry you.” ― C. JoyBell

I love this quote because if you recall from my 25 Things.. post, I love beautiful things that fly (not bugs), butterflies, hawks, eagles…because they look so free. Life never guarantees us an easy road but there’s always hope. Today is exactly the time between what’s already been and what’s yet to come so all we can do is live, learn, then move forward. With every shift I have learned different lessons and I welcome them. All I know for now, is that I will continue to live with breathless anticipation and hope, always open to whatever change comes next.

Today I wear Marc Jacobs Lust for Lacquer Lip Vinyl in No Regrets. These full coverage lipglosses are amazing! They have full on color and they are fairly long lasting. A friend and I sorta went nuts at Sephora trying all of these on. Although I bought Fame, No Regrets (which is red) is next. I chose it today for the name. No matter what choices, or paths we take we can learn from them and move forward, regrets are a waste of time. Cheers!


8 Dec

Ok, I have a little writer’s block right now. Maybe because my week was ordinary? Or maybe my eyes were too focused on me and not seeking the extraordinary moments of every day? Nevertheless, a few significant things did happen this week in the world. There were two highly reported deaths in the news. The first was Paul Walker from The Fast and Furious franchise. People viewed him as too young, too handsome, too kind. He was one of those extremely private movie stars but as you listen to the stories, he was truly a nice guy; genuine, kind, authentic. There are stories of his charitable foundation and of his random, anonymous acts of kindness. On the other end of the spectrum, Nelson Mandela. He changed the world. He stood for democracy,freedom, harmony, and peace. The contributions he made to his people and society in general are far reaching. Then in my little world, my friend ‘B’-Bob was buried this week. I will never forget his impact on me and my life, let alone his family and friends. Although these three men come from all walks of life and had different ‘positions’ in the world, they all had significant contributions on people’s lives. Paul Walker, besides being an actor, he was a father and died on his way to an event of his organization to help the victims of the typhoon in the Philippines. Nelson Mandela, his impact on people’s lives are too long to list. Bob, his love and support for me during a tough time will always be remembered and cherished. What do the three have in common, what will they be most remembered for? Their treatment of people. I found a really long quote from Maya Angelou. I was thinking of a way to take pieces from it, but I can’t. The whole thing sums it up perfectly, especially the last sentence:

I’ve learned that no matter what happens, or how bad it seems today, life does go on, and it will be better tomorrow. I’ve learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way he/she handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights. I’ve learned that regardless of your relationship with your parents, you’ll miss them when they’re gone from your life. I’ve learned that making a “living” is not the same thing as making a “life.” I’ve learned that life sometimes gives you a second chance. I’ve learned that you shouldn’t go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw something back. I’ve learned that whenever I decide something with an open heart, I usually make the right decision. I’ve learned that even when I have pains, I don’t have to be one. I’ve learned that every day you should reach out and touch someone. People love a warm hug, or just a friendly pat on the back. I’ve learned that I still have a lot to learn. I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.― Maya Angelou

Today I wear Ulta Tinted Lip Balm in Toast. I LOVE these! They are inexpensive, moisturize, and add color! Toast is a deep wine/red which provides enough color not to be crazy. I chose it for both the color and the name…toasting these three gentlemen and life! Cheers!

The Future

3 Dec

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I have had a lot on my mind lately and it’s been hard to sort and filter through all of it. On the one hand, there are lots of cool and exciting things happening and I feel stronger than I’ve felt in a long time both physically and mentally. On the other hand, there’s a lot of change with a mix of fear and sadness. It’s quite the conundrum. It’s like ice skating (which I don’t do very well by the way) on thin ice. You feel your face in the wind and you see an awesome goal that you’re skating toward, yet, the ice is so thin that at any moment it could crack and suck you under; being on the verge of crazy laughter and tears at the same time. I can’t really explain but maybe you’ve been there….the crazy place between now and then, here or there, yesterday and tomorrow. Sheesh I’m getting deep….I don’t even understand myself. So what happens now? I guess it’s like I always say, something I remind myself and try to do every moment of every day…..live life. It starts getting crazy when you start thinking of the who, what, where, when, because I think that is when we try to control the circumstances. One thing I know, there are some things we can control but there are many, many things we can’t. So where does that leave me? I can’t change the past so I must look forward. I’m excited about what the future brings, but until then, I live and love one day at a time. Appreciating each day for what it is, because every tomorrow is the future.

Today I wear Urban Decay Revolution Lipstick in Naked. I’m pretty sure I’ve written about these lipsticks before but they’re awesome! They have lots of color and staying power and they are moisturizing on top of that! I chose this color because it is the perfect nudey-pink, not too brown, and not too blah. Plus the name…naked, just me moving forward one day at a time. Cheers!


9 Nov

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Yesterday I met with a good friend whose fiancé just finished his last cancer treatment. She asked what life was like after cancer and what to expect emotionally, physically, etc. This one’s tough to answer because everyone is different. My fight is a little different than some because my cancer has come back a few times, but I believe most of the emotions are the same whether you were diagnosed once, twice, or however many times. Cancer is cancer. There is no easy cancer. Being told you have cancer, then mustering up all you have to fight back is one thing, but after? When they tell you ‘you’re done’? It’s a little like post traumatic stress disorder; trying to cope and adjust after a terrifying or traumatic event. It’s been almost three years since my last treatment and I just recently got my first totally clean bill of health, ever, believe it or not, I feel like I’m going through a grieving process…again. I’m sad that I can’t trust my own body. I was in my 30’s, healthy and active when this all started and boom, I find out there are cells I can’t see inside of me trying to kill me. I’m sad that I can’t do some of the things I used to do without struggling to breathe because of the attack on my neck. I’m sad that my kids are afraid to ask what my test results are and I’m even more sad that I scared them because they’ve seen me so sick. I’m sad that I wasted so much time and energy worrying about stupid inconsequential stuff before I had cancer; stupid stuff is just that…stupid. There are so many things to grieve because after cancer and dealing with your mortality, you not only think about where you came from, but more importantly, of where you want to be. I recently visited a friend who is a massage therapist and polarity therapist . After her treatment I asked her what my body was telling her and she told me that besides the overwhelming feeling that my body was in constant self protection mode (not healthy), that I had a broken heart. Guess what, it made me sad. Now, I have known her for a very long time and she told me she remembers a girl with a fire inside of her, I replied, ‘I miss her too.’

What happens now? ‘The purpose of life, after all, is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experiences.’ ~ Eleanor Roosevelt. Count me in. Despite the sadness, I am alive. Some of the great things post cancer is that I’m more patient, I don’t worry about stupid stuff, I try to understand people better and listen to their stories, I have less fear, I dream bigger, I care less about what people think of me, I love deeper, and yes, my heart breaks even more. I’m less tolerant of anger, hate, and jerks in general. After the first surgery my prognosis was bad. When you’re given an end date your perspective on life changes a little; I’m more focused on peace, adventure, and how I want the rest of my ‘living’ to look like. I’m hoping someday to regain more confidence in my body cooperating with me, and I’m hoping to find that girl with the fire inside of her once again. Life is short and it’s totally worth living.

Today I wear Kat Von D Painted Love Lipstick in Hellbent…yeah, it’s red! These lipsticks have lots of color but are surprisingly rich and moisturizing (although not as moisturizing as some of the others). I chose this color mainly for the name; I have so many shades of red lipstick but who could resist the name? Hellbent on living life! Cheers!


31 Jul

fall clouds

Boy, I’m really slacking on writing this blog, sorry. Tomorrow is August 1 and the summer is breezing by like a tornado. Since coming back from our long vacation, life has been a bit challenging, still healthy thank goodness, but lots going on. One of the current changes is, I once again have a new job! I know, it seems like my job turns over more times than Taylor Swift’s boyfriends, but my industry is shrinking and in constant flux so I am just hanging on until the end. My last company was starting to feel the pinch and since I’ve heard the down-size and lay off language before, I knew to start looking. Fortunately at the same time a manager from one of my previous companies contacted me with an opening and it was actually for a job back in the space I love. God’s timing is awesome. Anyhow, back in transition and testing and stress, but worth it.

Change can be scary but often times it is necessary. Next year for the first time, all my kids will be in different schools; one in high school, one in middle school, and one still in elementary…wow, that should be fun. As they get older all I can do is pray that they make good decisions, follow their dreams, and not lose their voice in the crowd. I look back and can honestly say, because I was kinda geeky and quiet, a total introvert and a people pleaser on top of that, sometimes I lost my voice (figuratively). I tried so hard to fit in that I agreed with things and did things hoping it would make me more liked or more popular. My opinion or feelings about something didn’t matter as long as others thought I was right there with them. It is so easy to lose your voice when you are counting on others to like you. Guess what? There will always be people that don’t like you, don’t agree with you, and don’t really care, however hard you try. This is a message I try to tell my kids during this great time of peer pressure. But it doesn’t stop after high school, or college does it? We do it as adults too eventually losing ourselves to try to please others. Cancer has taught me that life is short and losing my voice (literally) has made me want to step out of my shell and use it more! It’s easy to get caught up in getting validation from other people, but your voice is already beautiful. Don’t lose it along the way.

Today I wear Chanel Glossimer lipgloss in Giggle. These glosses are so easy to wear, and this one’s a pinky brown color; I own a few different ones. They all add just a hint of color.They are not thick and don’t feel sticky. I chose Giggle because I love to laugh, something that I need more of right now. It’ll come…Cheers!

Strength and Courage

28 May

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Strength and courage. These are two words cancer fighters hear all the time. ‘You are so strong, so much courage to go through what you are going through…’ During ‘the fight’ we have no choice but to be strong and courageous fighting this enemy attacking our bodies. These are good words, and for me a constant encouragement to hear, empowering me to fight and conquer. Again, there was no choice, either be strong, courageous, and fight, or wither away and wallow in self pity…yeah, that sounds fun. Anyhow, I looked up the definitions:

Strength: The state of being strong, the power to resist attack; durability

Courage: The ability to do something that frightens you; strength in the face of pain

Yes to both, cancer/illness fighters need both. What about after the fight? I am finding that having strength and courage after the fight, trying to adjust to a new normal, while also adjusting from some of the side effects psychologically along with treatment side effects, is just as difficult. Cancer opens your eyes and heart to a whole new world and not all of it is ‘rosy’. I see things with a different perspective (obviously), I have a longing to live life to the fullest, to love and understand people and where they come from, for my kids to be just as excited about life as I am despite an ever-changing and not always positive society. What if when your eyes are open, you don’t like everything you see? Well, it takes even more strength and courage to make changes and to be the change; to stand up for what you believe in and move forward despite the constant scare of cancer. I know this sounds like alot of jibberish but my mind and heart have been swirling. We all live with a type of ‘cancer’ don’t we? Something that grates on our nerves, a job, a co-worker, a situation. Open your eyes and heart and live. There is a certain power to being vulnerable with people. It is scary but be strong and courageous, we need that from each other.

Deuteronomy 31:6  “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Today I wear Bare Minerals Marvelous Moxie lipgloss in Stunner. This gloss is a bright magenta color in the tube. It’s a super moist but not sticky lipgloss that has a good amount of shine and color on lips…I LOVE it! This color happens to be enough of a pop of color for me and because I have a bit of a plum tone to my lips already, this looks like a sheer pop of berry on me! Cheers!

Kids and Cancer

16 Mar

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I haven’t written in a while for a few reasons; partly because my emotions have been very up and down, partly because I can’t think of anything to write about because of said emotions, and partly because I’m tired of always talking about me. Today I thought I’d tackle kids and how they may feel about cancer by interviewing one of my kids, AJ. My kids were 5,7, and 10 when this cancer journey started for me. My oldest,AJ, is now 15 almost 16 and has grown into a fine young man. He is my most logical child so I wanted to hear how he feels and has felt about mom having cancer so far…

Me: You were only 10 when I got cancer the first time, what did you think?

AJ: I was only in fifth grade and I think I was angry.

Me: Scared?

AJ: Not really because I didn’t know what it really meant yet. I guess I might have been scared of the unknown.

Me: How did you feel when it came back the second and third time?

AJ: The second time I was more upset than angry, but the third time I thought it would be ok because I watched you fight and win the first two times.

Me: How do you think having a mom with cancer through your youth has changed you, or has it?

AJ: I don’t think it’s made me a more sensitive person, I guess I’m not sure. It was just a fact of life, I didn’t know any different, plus you acted as ‘normal’ as possible; still drove us places, came to our events…

Me: How did you feel during those times when I couldn’t talk?

AJ: Frustrated because I couldn’t understand anything you were trying to whisper.

Me: Has this made you closer to God, or more angry and farther?

AJ: Closer, because I prayed a lot and saw all the people who would bring food and pray for you and with you. Sometimes He was the only One I could talk to.

Me: So if my cancer is back, how are you feeling?

AJ: Same as the first time…angry2006-10-14_0044

Ok, I have to say this is the first time I actually sat face to face with one of my children to discuss how they have felt through everything. Although AJ seemed indifferent and thought I was goofy for asking (he is a teenager), I was actually getting emotional and a little choked up. I may never know all the feelings they have or are feeling, but I do know that cancer has been part of their life for most of their youth. It’s sad to me but I understand that their feelings are directly tied to my actions. If I showed fear, I don’t think AJ would have been so confident the third time cancer came around. At the very least I know I have shown my kids how to handle adversity and life’s challenges with strength and hope, relying on God, family and friends. For now, that is enough.

Today I wear Bobbi Brown lipstick in Roseberry. I love Bobbi Brown lipsticks because they are not too glossy, not to dry, and have beautiful colors that work on almost every skin tone…really! Roseberry is a pinky rose color according to the descrition on Sephora, but on me, it is a great poppy red/pink that is great for spring and summer. It looks nothing like the picture on the web… much brighter and fun! Until next time!!

Taking A Break

25 Feb

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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.2013-02-17 22.15.05

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!

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