Short Hair, Don’t Care*

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What is beauty? Some may say it comes from within… But in the teen and young adult dating ages a sad reality is that beauty is judged on looks, end of story! Although people like to preach how they date people because they are funny, or kind… reality is that, primarily the first attraction is based off of physical appearance. Look at  popular dating apps such as Tinder!

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My whole life I’ve had long golden blonde hair. People that know me would most often describe me as more “high maintanence” than the average girls who simply pin their hair back into ponytails everyday. I was raised with two sisters, and my moms motto for us was always “pain for beauty” as she ripped throughout our knots daily. I’ve had horror hair cuts, a perm to bring my pin straight hair to kinky curls in high school, i’ve burnt my hair, it has turned orange and green for that matter!  For me, the length of my hair no matter what the style or color never changed. I was able in a way to hide behind my hair, when i’m nervous, I would pull it in front of me to cover the nervous hives I typically get, If I don’t want to wear makeup, as long as my hair was down I never felt ugly.
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I am all for hair extensions and weave, the past couple of years I have been known to wear long hair past my mid back. When I’ve gone on my many service trips, my extensions remained in tact and I would be the one waking up an hour early to put on my makeup in front of my travel mirror despite 100* weather and knowing it would simply all sweat off my face! I’ve spent endless amounts of money on Pureology hair products, and am known to drive 5 hours home to simply keep my stunning locks healthy by my hair dresser Jessica Santos from Tangles Salon in Easton, PA.

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On November 4,2015 I decided that my cancer diagnosis would absolutely not take anything away from me… I would be in complete control throughout this “health hiccup” as my Hubby (so amazing to finally call him that) describes it! My hair does not define me! I have always been my sparkly, giving, happy, generous self… And although it was important for me to maintain my physical appearance, I am still me! I will let you in on a tiny secret… I may come off as this strong girl who is out to kick cancers butt… which I most definitely will! But, even after hearing my diagnosis, and facing the doctors as they described my upcoming treatments and procedures… Truthfully the thing I remember crying about most at night was losing my hair!

I refuse to “look sick” during this short part of my life! Cancer can attack my cells, it can force doctors to pump poison into my veins, I may shed tears because i’m entirely hormonal as I go through fertility treatments, and I do cry, but it’s natural! I can promise you one thing, I will never ever ever ever give up!

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“I’m Britney Bitch”! Okay, well i’m actually Meghan, and although its funny to my sisters and I to refer to myself as Britney as I held the razor to my head, I truly dont mean to make fun or be offensive to Britneys rough patch in life! Actually, i’ve learned a lot through her! Britney Spears has always been an idol to my sisters, cousins and I. We attended countless concerts, collected every sticker, and spent endless money on fan memorabilia! Refering myself to Britney and her hair shaving event keeps a smile on my face… So deal with it people!

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Anyways, I decided on shaving my hair for many reasons. My sister Jillians friend and angel looking down on us everyday, Jeaneane was diagnosed with a glioblastoma at the age of 14-15. We were young, but we also witnessed the challenges and insecurities she faced losing her hair as a high school aged young girl. Jill and her amazing group of friends never left her side, and when the time came to Jeaneane beginning to lose her hair, the girls all rallied together and cut off their long locks to make her feel more comfortable, as well as donate their hair to Beautiful Lengths to help other young girls feel more normal with wigs etc. I very specifically remember Jeaneane getting a new wig and the girls were so excited. To our surprise though, she didn’t thoroughly enjoy it. I remember her complaining that it was hot or itchy, and she felt more comfortable wearing thick headbands in the front of her head where she had thinning hair, she was comfortable, beautiful, and still able to sparkle and shine as a Pocono Mountain West Cheerleader!

On my first appointment to my oncololigists office, and after hearing I would be undergoing aggressive treatment through chemotherapy, one of the first pamphlets I was handed was a wig catalog. I opened the book which on the covered showed a beautiful middle aged woman with bright eyes and a pink hair wrap around her head. The horror came to life as I scanned the pages of the book to see nothing but hair caps, wraps, and literally old people wigs! I instantly began to cry. How was this happening to me?!?! I was a cheerleader for much of my life, I walked on homecoming courts in High School and College, I always had long golden hair and now I’m supposed to  look through this catalog and buy a grandma wig thats going to make me look like a Golden Girl?! Um… NO!

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My sisters, my rocks and foundation throughout this journey instantly came up with a plan. Knowing my goal of maintaining my sparkle and never looking sick, we had to do something and that something had to be fast! My middle sister Samii, aka Samii Ryan is a model/ actress/ accessory designer currently living out In LA, she reached out to some of her friends and there we found our options! An amazing company L’Avant Garde Hair pledges to “allow you to improve or change your appearance through effective and unique designs. With professional touch and process, your hair can be as stunning as what you have always desired”. Another group of angels were sent into my life! They have very generously decided to take my natural hair and turn it into a wig with my very own long golden locks that i’ve spent endless time and dollars to maintain throughout my life! Told you cancer… You messed with the wrong girl! I have a plan for everything;)

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Finally, the day to shave! Obviously I pushed up my wedding and planned it in two weeks to have my natural hair, although looking back wearing a wig would have saved so much time because most of them are already styled! I never want patchy thin hair just because that isn’t me… So I made the decision to shave my head and have wigs for occasionas that I want to have long hair— im like the real live Hannah Montana! I can go GI Jane or Barbie in the same day! AND, being a newlywed… I can practically be any fantasy my new hubby would like;) quit simply too.. Just a change and tightening of the wig straps!

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I chose to shave my head on Novemeber 4, 2015 because the following day would be the starting day of my chemo treatments. With L’Avant so graciously taking my hair to make a wig for me out of my very own hair, I had to have healthy hair follicles to send in, and turn around time would be 2 weeks! AMAZING! My fabulous videographer and great friend Paul Saunders from Shofilms whom I can’t rave enough about, dedicated his time to come to my home and capture the event! I facetimed my mom and cousin Cindy, and after parting my hair like Angelica Pickles from Rugrats, with scissors in hand… I took charge and cut my first ponytail.

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The sound of hair cutting always terrified me, because Ive had sooooo many horrible cuts, and normally would panic if a hairdresser would take off even my dead ends! As I cut through my ponytail, that sound I used to associate with terror, was still frightening because I was literally cutting off my own hair… But it was inspiring because I was not about to let cancer win! My sister Samii took the scissors to the next ponytail, my little sister Jillian to the next, and my loving husband with the help of my sisters of course, cut the fourth ponytail off my scalp. I held up the mirror and looked like a HOT MESS, something like my head literally got caught in a lawn mower! I may have panicked a tiny bit… But My cousin who was facetiming in had her staff at Pocono Medical Center in the background encouraging me and telling me how beautiful I truly was, hair or not.

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It was time… We plugged in the clippers and away we went! This was my chance to be Brittney! I attempted shaving a mohawk straight down the middle of my head, but being that Ive never done this before… The videographer, Paul had to step in the help! A little while later… My head was shaved! My sisters held up the mirror and I wasnt ugly, I didnt look like a boy, and my beauty hadn’t disappeared! Looking back at me was the reflection of me… I was still Meghan! I still had bad eyebrows;) hahahah, drawn on lips, fake lashes… And my sparkle hadn’t disappeared!

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I am here to stay, hair or no hair… Barbie or Chinchilla! I will forever Sparkle On!

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XOXO Meghan

Please check out  L’Avant Garde Hair Studio for more information on natural wigs and hair alternatives*

Angels Among Us… My Dream Come True

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Looking back on the whole experience of wedding planning, I would not have wanted it any other way!  Jamie from “Jamies Dream Team” truly deserves all of the credit in the world for making my dream a reality!  She has this incredible team of vendors and through her Facebook site was able to reach out to other amazing talented people in the area willing to donate their skill, talent and time and ultimately make all my dreams a reality!

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The first vendor I got to meet with was my new, phenomenal, magical photographer Sasha Danielle.  My sisters and I set up a time after my tests at the hospital to go over the details and a plan for how we would pull this off.  We parked the car, crossed the street and as were scanning the street for the studio, a bright smiling girl with glowing ombre gray hair was greeting me with open arms.  Her assistant the stunning dark haired Rachel was also by her side and they were more welcoming.  As we were escorted up the elevator and down a hallway, her gorgeous rustic studio with exposed brick surrounded us!  At that moment I knew that Sasha was brought into my life for a reason.

My sisters and I sat down on the couch as she began asking my vision for the wedding as well as my story.  She was so intrigued to hear about John and I and our love for each other which was so special to me.  We came up with a plan, then Sasha went over all the amazing things she so graciously wanted to offer to me.  It brought tears to my eyes that this girl with striking beauty and such a eye for creativity would ever be so outstandingly willing to make my dreams come true!  I instantly began to cry with her generosity and will to help!

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The next vendor I had the privilege to meet was the most amazing man I have ever been introduced!  I once again was in Sasha’s studio as one of her mentors, a local videographer Paul from ShoFilms entered following my boudoir shoot and just in time for some wedding dress glamour!  He shook my hand and instantly pulled out the camera as the gorgeous shoot unveiled. A few hours later, I was off to an appointment to meet my DJ the re-meet with Paul later on the top of West End Overlook to do some interviews with John.

My DJ: Tyler with Modern Era Weddings was our next stop.  I was so mad at John because he got stuck in traffic but all was well as we entered the office as a little hyper puppy greeted me at the door.  We sat down with Tyler, explained our vision and he took very specific notes regarding the DO NOT PLAY list including the chicken dance and YMCA :)!  After meeting Tyler, all my anxiety was at ease because I had full confidence in his creativity and style to give our family and most importantly friends a party they would NEVER forget!Britt

I also want to let you know about a couple other spectacular people I’ve met throughout this journey.  I met Brittany Leshen my gorgeous, gothic goddess who is responsible for much of the makeup for my bridesmaids on my wedding day!  She also took charge of my hair and makeup for my boudoir shoot with Sasha!  Brittany also introduced me to her friend Kayla Willkom Scanlon who is a professional hair stylist in Pittsburgh and dedicated her time to my hair, and multiple bridesmaids for the big day!  To the woman who saved the day, wedding hair stylist Nicole Brentzel Webb from Polished to Perfection in North Huntington, PA was able to crank out the curls, plaster our heads with hair spray and literally our hair lasted through the entire night of fun and dancing!

I cannot forget my wonderful musicians!  An amazing volunteer through Jamie’s Dream Team, Deborah Walters stumbled across my story as she herself was looking to give back to the community.  When I received Debbie’s contact information I was stunned because 1. she was raised in the same town as my parents, and 2. after discussing the music for the church and explaining how may dream has always been to walk down the aisle to “A Whole New World” from Aladdin, Debbie had the music and was more than willing to make my dreams a reality.  On such short notice, I never in my life expected to have any more surprises!  That was until my dad came across Nyke Van Wyk, a local violinist from my hometown Bethlehem, PA where he works as a traveling violinist, performer, composer and instructor!  Without the talent of these two amazing individuals, my wedding would not have had that sparkle and glow that it did in the end!

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Rings, what is a wedding without rings! With all the craziness of planning a wedding in two weeks, can you believe I didn’t even think about 1. Choosing rings, 2. Pricing rings, or 3. Having rings for John and I to exchange! It wasn’t until mid week that Jamie from Jamie’s Dream Team called me and asked the very simple questions, “Do you even have rings”, to which my response was “NO!. Me being the back-up plan queen decided that we would just simply get plain bands, exchange them and have them blessed then for our anniversary or the date that I AM CURED, we would celebrate with the exact rings of our dreams. This plan just would not suffice with Jamie being a part of this dream. That’s when GDC Fine Jewelry in Irwin, PA came into my life! I met a woman named Megan! She immediately got me on the phone, had me send her a picture of my engagement ring and an idea for what John would be interested and a day prior to the wedding her incredible team was able to custom design us the most beautiful pair of rings on the planet. The sparkle of my diamond band and delicateness of Johns black band brought tears to my eyes and made this wedding so much more real and sentimental than just a big party. These rings would be the ones to tie our love together, and within those circles our bond shall never be broken!

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When it came to decorations, aside from me using whatever I had round up already throughout the year, and knowing that flowers are rather pricey, I initially decided to simply go to Costco and buy some roses and make my own bouquets. That was until a fellow coworker and fellow OT Jess told me her mom is a florist and may be able to help! Val from Peggy’s Floral in Wampum, PA immediately contacted me and wanted to help. She had me send her ideas and picture that I had collected from pinterest and used her creativity to develop simply gorgeous bouquets and décor. I told her “use some scraps and whatever is cheapest”, her response was “I don’t do cheap”. When I got to meet her as I entered the church, I was floored with the beauty of all the flowers she used and the masterpieces she was able to create! My bouquet was filled with gorgeous lilies and pink and purple combinations! Everything was simply exquisite! She even stayed around to fix my dress before I walked down the aisle with my dad! What an absolutely amazing woman she is!
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Finally my DRESS!  I was lucky enough to had started wedding planning far in advanced and my original dress purchased from Sorelle Bridal in Washington PA came in probably a month prior to my diagnosis.  I cannot rave enough about this bridal salon!  I initially met Michelle the owner in July when I called her a week before my sister was flying in from LA, and my mom and Jill were coming for Jill’s graduation party at my home.  Michelle answered my call and instantly set up a private fitting so I could “Say Yes to the Dress” with my closest family present and at my side.  I think it was the 4th dress I tried on that brought tears to everyone’s eyes.  I purchased the dress and a little over a month later received a call that it was in!  I attended my first fitting and it fit perfect! No need for hemming, I just need a bustle.  Sorelle Bridal connected me with Debbie their alterations specialist and another angel I have come across through this journey!

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Debbie without question setup a fitting and performed all of my minor alteration and complex bustling effect because my dress was such a gorgeous ball gown.  Me being the sparkle queen that I am had initially planned to add appliqués to the waist of my gown for some extra sparkle— I had planned on a trip to NYC to find the perfect amount of bling!  With two weeks until the wedding I didn’t have time to shop, that wqas when Debbie pulled out a small box of scraps and we found the most perfect appliqué that matched the exact beading of my dress!  It was meant to be I’m convinced! I returned for a fitting and by this time with my stress and fertility treatments I found that I was losing weight.  The dress that fit so perfectly the first time was getting big in the bust.  Debbie doubled my padding and I was ready for my dream wedding to come true!  The next day I had my glamour shoot with the all so talented Sasha which is where we found my dress to be far too big!  It was a blessing in disguise that I had that shoot set up prior to my wedding day!  I called Debbie immediately and her giving compassionate self dropped everything to get me back in, take measurements, and make my dress everything and more perfect than I could have ever dreamed!

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Finally Jamie’s Dream Team.  I am at a loss of words for what these extremely kind hearted and compassionate group does for people in need. Jamie literally dropped her life to plan a wedding for me in TWO WEEKS, on top of other big dreams that she was in the process of traveling to and planning!  Her staff is nothing short of incredible!  Throughout the entire journey from her immediate family (her mom and grandma) to other volunteers (Monika and Leanna just to specifically name a few)… they would text me, call me, check on me like they’ve known me for years.  Their dedication and incredibly LARGE caring hearts were always there when I needed them. From reaching out to venders, performing crafts, setting up my entire reception… I am at a complete loss of words for how grateful I am for there services and how I am so excited to join their team and grant other peoples dreams and wishes when they are most vulnerable and in need.

For more information regarding Jamie’s Dream Team and the other fabulous vendors that took part in the mots magical day of my entire life please click the links below.

Jamie’s Dream Team: http://jamiesdreamteam.myfastsite.net

Sasha Danielle Photgraphy: http://www.sashadaniellephoto.com

Paul with ShoFilms Videography: http://www.shofilms.com

DJ Tyler from Modern Era Weddings: http://www.moderneraweddings.com

Nicole from Polished to Perfection: https://www.facebook.com/polishedtoperfection15642/

Nyke Van Wyk Violinist: http://www.nykevanwyk.com

Megan from GDC Jewelry: http://www.gdcjewelry.com

Val from Peggy’s Floral: http://www.peggysfloral.com

Sorelle Bridal: http://sorellebridalsalon.com

And We Lived Happily Ever After…

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On October 31, 2015 my fairytale love story finally came true! Many of you that know me personally are aware that John and I got engaged last November and decided on an extended engagement for the simple fact of saving money, no stress during planning, and enough time for creativity for the execution of the most perfect princess wedding!  With my knee surgery in April and literally being house bound, I had my “Knot Wedding Planning” binder for guidance and have been slowly making different pinterest projects over this past year.  When I got the news of my cancer, my firsts immediate thought was, “I am not getting married when i’m bald”… so I didn’t!

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My sisters and cousin immediately all came to Pittsburgh and we began planning a two week wedding!  With insurance issues and legalities, it just made sense to push up the wedding.  My amazing cousin Cindy is also planning her fairy tale wedding for next July, and when we got my news she so graciously even brought up the idea that myself, John, Cindy and her Fiance Aaron all get married with a short intimate marriage together!  It was soooo unbelievably thoughtful and broke my heart that she would ever do such a thing for me… but I refuse for my diagnosis to ruin that many amazing wedding plans:)  I initially was going to settle on a small courthouse ceremony, but all of you that know me know… I typically “Go Big or Go Home”!  My mother in law made a few calls to my initially booked venue and to our surprise they had an open ballroom on Halloween!  In that instant, I knew it was meant to be, I would have the wedding of my dreams.

We began initially by calling all of my booked vendor’s to see who was open and free on such short notice, looking at financing, and getting a list created for bare necessities… that was prior to us meeting my angel, Jamie from “Jamie’s Dream Team”!

My aunt had a neighbor who was diagnosed with breast cancer at a young age as well, heard our story and circumstance surrounding the wedding and encouraged us to reach out to Jamie!  My aunt was determined to help,  and so graciously wrote an email describing our situation and within 4 hours Jamie wanted to meet my sisters, cousin and I and she was fully on board to make my dreams come true!  My sisters and cousin went to meet Jamie that day and the wedding planning was full blast!  I mean, this wedding was to take place in 2 WEEKS!!!

Luckily I had the majority of my wedding planned, with my “The Knot Wedding planner” in hand, my sister and cousin were in full wedding planning mode.  Due to the fact that I have had doctors appointment, tests, and procedures, my days were literally booked hour by hour but I still wanted to be a part of this creation!

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John and I decided that this wedding would be both meaningful and sparkly:) not focusing on my diagnosis at all, but simply our love for each other!  With my fascination toward Disney, my lifelong goal of being a princess, and a little bit of fairytale magic— our theme ended up being that of a Princess wedding. After many arguments between him and I, the normal wedding stress and my increased hormones due to my fertility treatments, it was hard but we made it through!

When the day finally arrived, I wasn’t nervous at all! I was soooo excited to marry the man of my dreams!  Both John and I decided that since this whole wedding was going to most likely be a bit emotional, we wrote our vows to each other and provided each other with small gifts to exchange on our wedding day!

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My girls and I stayed at the Hyatt House– donated through Jamie’s Dream Team and the boys at our home on N Vireo Dr. The girls woke up bright and early and began hair and makeup promptly at 6:30 am.  It was all so worth it though!  With my mom and Johns mom present during our princess transformations, all of us girls slowly but surely became gorgeous pink goddesses!  **Side note: my reasoning for having pink as my wedding colors had absolutely nothing to do with breast cancer, PINK is my favorite color and I was always planning on having pink!  The boys most likely rolled out of bed around 10:00, began drinking from our keg and put their tuxes on just in time for the photographer to arrive!

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One of the most meaningful parts of my entire day was receiving the gift John gave to Cindy to give me the day of our wedding. Because we chose to sleep in separate places the night prior to our wedding it was a bittersweet moment not to actually exchange the gifts.  As I pull a picture frame out of the blue gift bag with crinkled stuffing, I immediately began to tear… he wrote me a poem.  I also got a MK wallet, a jewelry box engraved with the words “I DO” and our wedding date, and the most precious engraved necklace with our wedding date and my new initials “MEK”.

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I also left him a gift on our bed with specific instructions to wait until morning to open it. I hand wrote a letter describing our story and my love to him, then I wrote out my specific vows.  I sealed the envelope with a kiss wearing one of my favorite lip sticks.  I then had wrapped a photo book from my boudoir session, for his eyes only.

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Our wedding day was absolutely spectacular and anything I could have ever imagined! From our wedding party, to champagne on the party bus, to the most beautiful ceremony to a dipped kiss on the alter, to the paper airplane release to the horse drawn carriage with pink sparkly hooves, to the amazing venue with fireworks, a chocolate fountain, and Photo Booth, what more could I have ever asked for!  Our DJ was spectacular, my photographers and videographers were there to capture the entire night… and looking back I would just love to have it all start over again!  I specifically want to thank all of my friends and family who were present for making the nigh absolutely unforgettable— and to remind my other friends and family who could not attend to mark your calendar because as soon as i’m CURED we will have a spectacular party in celebration!

Please click the link below to see our beautiful teaser by ShoFilms:

Franz/Koziel Wedding Teaser