Beauty Post: Staying Power

My sister rocks. For many reasons — I will not list them all here — but I will share a few. Time for a list (in no particular order of awesomeness!

  • She loves me so much that in the last eight weeks, she has been here with me twice to go to my Chemo.
  • She also loves me so much that she will come right after my surgery to take care of me.
  • She buys me things from Ulta and brings them to me. This is especially awesome because our closest Ulta is like 30 minutes away, and I don’t like driving there.
  • She lets me eat whatever I want — and occasionally procures it for me — and doesn’t judge me.
  • Her husband is a kick-butt bartender. Technically that’s why he is awesome, but she picked him, so …
  • I keep a note that she wrote me like a year ago in my planner, because it is one of the sweetest things she’s ever written to me. I showed it to her today, and she cried. Finally someone who cries more than me!
  • Ok, I did save the best for last. She does this all while coping with Multiple Sclerosis. The poor thing gets sick practically every time she flies, but she is still willing to come see me. MS makes her tired, but she’s still coming to see me.
  • Wait! I thought of one more. She comes in the room with me before Chemo when I have to have my port accessed and blood drawn even though she really hates needles.

I could go on, but I will save it for some gigantic card or something that I will write her when all this is over. Plus, this is supposed to be a Beauty Post. I promise she’s related to it because the post is about the two presents she brought me this visit:

The first one is this is Stay Don’t Stray by Benefit. This is for eyes. Three dots on the eyelid and three underneath the eye. Today wasn’t my best eyeshadow day, but boy did it stay put.

My sister has good taste. This product works amazingly. Sis is a loyal Ulta customer, so I am also linking the product so you can buy it there. Look how amazingly my concealer has stayed on! And this is with allergy eyes that are watering constantly! (By the way, I forgot to share on the other post that my stuffiness and what I thought was a cold is far more likely allergies. My NP suggested some different OTC allergy meds).

I will try to post another pic when I have a better eyeshadow day (my eyes were swollen this morning). All shadows I used were from Bare Minerals (I’m not naming or linking them because they are older, and I don’t think they are carried anymore), which normally don’t have great pigmentation. With the base of the Stay Don’t Stray, the pigmentation was much better! And it stayed all day. This makes me more likely to purchase eyeshadow from Bare Minerals in the future. Note: I have only used single colors in pots, not any pressed eyeshadows.

The second product is called Urban Decay Makeup Setting Spray. Sis also purchased it at Ulta. The picture was taken tonight (again). Keep in mind that I have blown my nose at least a dozen times today:

Wow. Just wow! Look at how well my makeup stayed on! Before applying the product, shake well. Then, while holding it 8-10 inches from your face spray once or twice in an X motion (close your eyes first) and once or twice in a T motion. It dries and sets quickly. Less makeup comes off (at least from what I see on a tissue), and I am able to go for 12 hours (probably more) with great-looking makeup.

I am fortunate to be able to try these two products, as they were gifted to me, but if you are a regular makeup wearer, I suggest considering. The Stay Don’t Stray helps lighter-pigmented shadows pop.I used yesterday with an e.l.f eyeshadow duo and the shadows went from barely there to gorgeous! So you could rationalize that the more expensive base allows you to experiment with less expensive shadows. Just saying’. Plus the way it holds my concealer on, even with allergy-eyes makes it very likely I will use again.

As a girl with allergy issues, I would also recommend the Urban Decay Setting Spray. So little is used with each application, and it keeps makeup on better than a makeup base. Nor more red nose by the end of the day! If you’re not sure, I’d weigh your needs against the cost. If you’re not a huge makeup wearer, duh, it’s not for you. But if you enjoy wearing makeup and find that blowing your nose, or wiping your mouth tends to remove bits of your makeup, this may be worth the investment.

That’s all for tonight, kids. Thanks for being willing to see picture after picture of a bald me and for reading.

XOXO

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Phase I Down!

I am happy to inform you that I completed Phase I of my Chemo today! Huzzah! Woohoo! Yay!

I am equally as happy to inform you that tomorrow is my last Neulasta shot! (Insert your desired celebratory exclamation here). Neulasta, I know that you did good things for me, but boy did you make me feel lousy!

In two weeks I will begin my second phase. Weekly infusions of Taxol (or maybe Taxotere) and Carboplatin. Because of my age and relative healthiness (i.e. no Diabetes or other potentially life-threatening conditions), my Oncologist is using a relatively new therapy with me. The plan is to continue at the same dosage for the entire 12 weeks, but since this is a new treatment plan, and I’m one of the first to be treated this way, we will go on a week to week basis to see how I handle it. It may need to be adjusted some, which may extend the phase beyond 12 weeks.

Oh wait, I forgot to tell you the third piece of celebratory news! My lumps are no longer detectable — neither my surgeon nor my Oncology Nurse Practitioner could feel them! My chemo brain is not remembering anymore celebratory expressions, so please fill in some suggestions in the comments.

A little update on how I am feeling: my CBC shows some anemia, which makes sense because I am feeling more fatigue than I have been in previous weeks. This is to be expected, as Chemo is cumulative and is known to make patients anemic. They may add some Iron infusions to my weekly regimen, but we will see.

I am also experiencing pain, which could be my arthritis or from my Chemo or a combination of both. Not much I can do about that except some Tylenol or Advil. And I’ve been told Epsom Salt baths.

Other than that, I am in pretty good spirits. Aunt H & Uncle D visited for a long weekend, and we finally saw Star Wars: The Force Awakens. It exceeded my expectations. Even my mom thought it was fabulous!! Then Saturday my sister (I only have one, so no abbreviation needed) and brother-in-law flew in. They are here until Saturday. Mom, Sis, and I saw Joy on Sunday. I loved it! The boys saw — you guessed it — Star Wars (again).

Spending time with family is wonderful. For the first time in several years, all of us were together for a family meal. With my dad retiring at the end of the year, we informally “roasted” him. Then my aunt H recounted a story about how awesome my dad is, and we all ended up crying happy tears. It was awesome 🙂

Sis bought me some new makeup products that I will be reviewing in my beauty blog, and aunt H bought me some puzzles and games to play when I’m not feeling like staring at technology (much needed). She also gave me the coolest body pillow I’ve ever seen. Which I will post a picture of tomorrow if I can.

xoxo

Beauty Post: Chemo Skin

As many of you know, chemo can wreak havoc on your skin (for details you can visit this article on chemocare.com). The biggest issue is dehydration. Chemo pretty much dries your entire body out (hence the recommended 96 ounces of water a day). Other issues can be Psoriasis/Eczema (since I have Psoriatic Arthritis and Eczema, I was particularly concerned about this).

Fortunately, I am doing pretty well with staying hydrated, and in my last two months’ Birchboxes, I received two amazing products that I ended up buying full-size. I was going to wait an entire month to review these, but I’m so happy with the results, I am going to share now.

First of all, here I am without any makeup on, ready for bed (clarification: in bed).

Photo on 12-22-15 at 9.10 PM

Honestly, not so bad. I have received compliments lately on my skin, and my excuse is that I wear a lot of makeup, but I think I need to give more credit to these two products:

As I mentioned before, I am not a paid reviewer, nor do I even think Birchbox knows I exist. But my skin looks like it does seven weeks into Chemo because of these two products. So I think I should give credit where credit is due.

The first product (which, ironically, I received second) is Avène Hydrance Optimale. Somehow they got a whole lot of spring water into this to create long-lasting hydration. It also enhances the effectiveness of any moisturizer used after it. I use this morning and night after washing my face.

The second product (that I received first) is the Embryolisse 24-Hour Miracle Cream. This product contains both shea butter and aloe vera. However, it does not clog my pores at all. Because I am receiving Chemo I use this morning and night as well. For those not undergoing Chemo, I’d probably start with only once a day. It absorbs into the skin quickly, and leaves my face feeling smooth, not sticky at all.

I have a terrible skincare routine, so all of this is pretty new to me. But I have been trying to cleanse my face every night. Thing is, I just use a generic brand (CVS) makeup remover wipe. That’s it. No other cleanser. Then I apply these two products. In the morning, if my face feels like it can handle a cleanser, I just use the Simple Moisturizing Cleanser. Sometimes, I just rinse with water. And then I apply both these items, usually just a minute or so before I apply makeup.

This is the reason I joined Birchbox. I wanted to be able to try products before I bought. I desperately wanted to improve my skincare routine, but didn’t want to spend a ton of money on products, only to have them work poorly. If you are interested in doing something similar, I highly recommend one of these subscriptions. I chose Birchbox, but there are a number of companies that offer similar options.

If you click on the links, you will see that neither product is particularly inexpensive (although the Miracle Cream is available in a 30 ML size for less money and commitment). However, only a little of each product is needed, and, well … when you’re bald and people are paying particular attention to your face … it, in my opinion, is absolutely worth it.

Stay tuned for more Beauty posts. I should be receiving a new box soon, and I might be heading to Ulta soon!

xoxo

Should I Write a Story?

johncheeverquote

Last night I had a dream within a dream … I knew while I was dreaming that it was a dream, and then I analyzed the dream in my dream. Exhausting, I know. When I exited the — somewhat frightening — initial dream and began analyzing it, I began to think that the story should be written down (in my dream). That it could be at least a short story if not a novel. I came up with names, ways to describe certain events … it was all quite intriguing.

I awoke thinking about it … not terribly focused, but it has floated around my mind throughout the day. The most intriguing part of the story is that my character was so completely opposite from me. From where she lived to what was important in her life to what her fears were — completely different from anything familiar to me.

Some writers staunchly adhere to the “Write What You Know” method. Yet others insist that as long as a writer has empathy, a good story can be written. This dream last night, in all honesty, was neither for me. I don’t know it, and in the daylight, I don’t particularly empathize with the main character.

Despite this, I wonder if I should put the ideas on paper (or on screen). Could these dream-induced ideas twist into a gripping storyline? Enough to write a short story? A novel?

Writing is in my blood. I’ve known this for a very long time. Words make me immeasurably happy, and writing gives me a sense of confidence and ownership that I am only aware of because it is missing when I stop writing. I even want to own a vintage typewriter, and imagine that someday I will from it type some piece of literary genius that will get me at least 15 minutes of fame.

I have yet to determine what, if anything other than a blog, I will write. As a young teenager, I wrote some poetry. I don’t think I am a poet. In high school and college I wrote articles for school papers. I don’t think I am a journalist. I have never penned a short story, let alone a novel, but I am beginning to think that there is at least one of these inside me.

Last night isn’t the first time I had inspiration for a story. Last time, I was enthusiastic for a few days, and then allowed myself to become stifled at the prospect of coming up with so many words to form an official story with a beginning, middle, and end. With characters, a plot line, a climax, and a conclusion.

Now as I lay here in bed, awake far later than I intended to be, I am beginning to think that maybe, just in case, I should keep some kind of journal where these dreams, innermost thoughts, observations, characters and storylines can live.

And maybe someday I can marry my life experiences and empathies with snippets of dreams and imagination and weave together a real story. Maybe I’ll even get my 15 minutes of fame.

 

My First Connection

This morning I got to spend at the shop, and I must say that after a week being stuck in the house, I was thrilled to be out among the living. It helped that I was busy from the time of arrival to the time of my departure.

If you saw my beauty post, you saw my look today. I must say, I think I was awfully cute. However, it is becoming quite obvious to onlookers that I likely have the “C” word. Especially when it is 70 degrees out, and I’m wearing a knit hat and a scarf.

I’m OK with it though, and handled with grace, the inquiry I got from an acquaintance: “Is everything OK with you?” accompanied by a glance at my appearance and a look of concern. I quickly explained my “story” and reassured her that I’m really in excellent spirits and faring well during treatment.

Before I even knew it, it was time to head off to get my fluids and receive my Neulasta shot. I received numerous compliments on my hat (by the way, you can visit my friend over here at SuZQ Knits if you are interested in Chemo Caps for yourself or a loved one. Here are the ones she sent me:

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They are extremely comfortable, and I have gotten compliments on each one I’ve worn.

Anyway, the other cool thing that happened while I was there is that I actually got to meet one of the other patients and her husband. I was relieved at how nice they were and how positive they were, even though she has been sick for several years now.

I hope to continue to get to know more patients as I continue my time there. I think that’s all for tonight.

Sweet dreams!

xoxo

Beauty Post 2

I wanted to give a shout out to Joyce over at Shadow Sketch. She is another inspiration to me as far as beauty-blogging goes. She is an extremely talented makeup artist and Younique presenter. She has taught me a few things about makeup application recently. So thank you, Joyce, for being an inspiration to me as well.

Bear with me, this was my first collage attempt … but here is a step-by-step from my outfit inspiration to completion of my look today. Untitled

Please let me know if you follow this … If not I will try a new approach tomorrow. Anyway, here is the final look:

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Sorry, not actually the greatest pic, but you get the idea. I added the scarf because they left my cath in yesterday after chemo, since I came back today for fluids before my Neulasta shot. It isn’t the prettiest thing to look at, so I grabbed the scarf to finish the look. By the way, it was 70 degrees today, so I may have been a little overdressed.

That’s all for today, beauty wise … I’ll post a brief daily blog next.

xoxo

My FIRST Beauty Post

I am SO excited!!! Can you tell?? Before I get started, I have to thank my longest friend (I used to say oldest, but then people started thinking she was old), whom I have known since I was six years old. She was three. I’m not sure we were actually friends at that point, because I mean … she was a toddler. But we’ve stayed friends: she was in my wedding. If she gets married, I know I will be in hers (wink, wink). She’s my sister’s sister-in-law. She gave my now husband the affectionate nickname “Stalker” when we went to Italy together in 1999. It’s been a good run, and even though we don’t talk or email much, I think we have mutual faith that we love each other and we ALWAYS have each other’s back.

And my cancer diagnosis was no exception. She gave me one of the most thoughtful gifts I received. Gifts to make me feel feminine and pretty. Nail polishes, lipstick, and a fabulous eyeshadow gift set. Plus a gift card to pick my own goodies. I have taken such an interest in my make up now, especially since I am now bald as a cue ball (you’ll see soon). So A, thank you from the bottom of my heart. I feel pretty when I go out 🙂

This post will be a little longer, because I’m going to share with you some of my basic routine. First of all, I am horrible about a cleansing and moisturizing routine. Which is bad because my skin gets very dry. So I recently signed up for BirchBox. So far, I am enjoying it. They send different samples each month, and if you like them, it is super easy for you to order from your “box.” I have ordered a serum and a moisturizer from them. Once I give it a few weeks, I may review them here (I am not being paid by BirchBox, I just want to share things with my friends that I think works).

I am a pretty loyal Bare Minerals user. I have been for years, now. It doesn’t irritate my skin at all, and I don’t feel quite so guilty when I sleep in my makeup. Although, since I’m so focused on my eye makeup, I tend to wake up looking like a, well, a person who might wake up in an alley questioning her previous night’s decisions (was that PC enough?). Not to mention my poor pillowcase. So I am focusing on washing my face at night now. How quickly I digress.

My favorite thing from Bare Minerals right now is this product, applied with the pictured brush.

It’s a tinted hydrating cream. In the summer, I sometimes wear this without their famous BareMinerals Powder Foundation. Right now, though, I start with this as a base, applying it to my face with my finger, and blending in with the brush, paying closer attention to dark or red spots, and applying specifically under my eyes (dark circles) and on my eyelids. I follow with the three-steps of the powder foundation.

Here is my look from today. I didn’t have a chance to take it until this evening, so some of the makeup has undoubtedly worn off, especially since I’m still blowing my nose a lot.

I had on one of the cute hats that my friend S knitted for me, but I was too warm when I got home, so I decided to show you my new bald head.

I wore a black and grey top today, so I decided to try out the sample I received in my December BirchBox. But, I wanted to throw some more dimension too. Here are the shadows I used:

So my inspiration for the look was the sampler in the middle. I think it is found in the set linked there. But, since I received Le Grand Chateau from Too Faced as a gift (I linked the brand site, but feel free to search your favorite makeup place, too), I felt like two shadows weren’t enough. As far as tools go, I do have a set of eye brushes that I got from Sephora (worth it, in my opinion. I have other brushes too, but I got a gift card, so I got this new set with several more brushes. Bottom line is that eye brushes — whether a few or a set — make a huge difference in application).

I started with La Marais from Too Faced as an all over color — up to the brow bone, down to the lash line. It looks very white in the case, but it actually has this gorgeous pale pink shimmer to it (upon further research, it appears that this is only available in the gift set I was given. However, I am sure that they carry a similar, if not, exact color with a different name). Then I used the left color in the Sample Pack under the brow bone, to the corner, to the lash line. Feel free to connect that all to appear as one stroke. I did this two or three times on each eye to build the color.

Next I used the Mojito in the crease (again several applications). Unfortunately, this did fade quite a bit. I’m still hoping for an eye shadow primer in one of my future BirchBoxes.

Finally, I took a liner brush to the darker Sample Color to create the look of an eye liner to the lash line. For me, the shadow ends up creeping to the lower lash line, so I just need to fill in a bit to get the bottom liner look.

I followed up with Too Faced Better Than Sex Mascara. I’m not being dirty, that’s actually the name of it. It was part of the gift set, and I didn’t fully realize till I looked at the picture with my eyes closed how much I like it!

I finished up with Tre Fab bronzer, which apparently is only available in Le Grand Chateau, linked above, and a swipe with my Bare Minerals finishing brush. I don’t add more powder, just use the remaining in the brush to create a seamless look. The eye shadow can spread to your temples and under eyes … just take a big fluffy brush to wipe away. If you don’t have a brush, a tissue works wonders too 🙂

OK, that’s a wrap! Please provide your critiques, suggestions, adulation, whatever, in the comments.

XOXO!