As many of you know I was 26 years young when diagnosed with stage 2B breast cancer Oct 2015. At that time I was spending hundreds of dollars a month on my hair, nails, lashes, and makeup. My middle sister Samii Ryan is a model in LA, my little sister is always coming up with a new fashion trends like bringing life and an artistic vibe to a wardrobe that is black on black on black. Basically, I was the typical “Bekki” as my sisters would call me. The typical cheerleader with long blonde extensions and pink lipstick… yup that was me!
Well, technically I was Barbie without the plastic parts (at that time anyways), even though getting a boob job was always a goal of mine. I mean let’s be serious… both of my sisters have D+ cup boobs… thank you genetics for giving me the teeny tatas, oh ya that cancer too! But anyways… Basically, I loved anything pink and the higher or more sparkly the heel the better! Then, that evil disease known as CANCER hit. It was literally like I was tumbling from the support of a sturdy stiletto as if I were at a club and while standing on a couch next to Vinny from Jersey Shore my heel simply snapped! (Not that that happened to me or anything but thats besides the point… 😉 )
Basically once diagnosed with a cancer and depending on the treatment course you decide to undergo, there are many different physical changes that occur. In my case, chemotherapy aka chemo aka evil chemicals that make you feel like SHIT greatly affected my outward appearance. In brief, It takes away your hair on all body parts, head, lashes, brows, arms, legs, and yes the almighty coochie! It parches your skin sucking out all the water your body has to offer so it looks like you’ve been stranded in a desert for months at a time, and it wasn’t so bad for me, but some girls I’ve talked to it gave them awful spots of dry skin and redness on their cheeks. I just recently while looking back on some chemo selfies noticed how awful my dark circles became during treatment! Holy Heck…
Oh yes, and not only does chemo make your face distorted and pudgy, but it also affects your body in general. Im talking the belly, booty areas people. Whether you have no appetite at all (like when I was on Adriamycin aka the red devil) and you literally wither away to bones, or you plumpen up from a medicine like Taxol, I can tell you that your body is going to change! So I will warn your now, you may as well tuck away your Insanity Dvds because if you hear Shaun T yell “Come on Y’all lets Gooooo” you may just give up on life all together! Don’t get discouraged though because you probably won’t even have the energy to get out of bed to pee or poo in the middle of the night let alone wake up at the crack of dawn to work out. (sidenote: continued exercise is encouraged in moderation, I used walking and light cleaning but please consult with a physician before continuing any high level type exercise, and heck if you are a work out fein don’t give up just because I did, you keep that six pack and beat cancer– boom boom boom).
Okay so, times a decreased energy lifestyle by about 6 months give or take the time that you are going through treatment, add the now slowed down metabolism of a woman nearing the age of 30 and you have yourself a muffin top! all the battery going on in the inside of your body due to chemicals that are saving your life… its obvious that your outside appearance is going to have some changes. I did research, took advice of friends and family, spent money, and yes changed my beauty routines to compensate for this “new” me, after of course days upon days of crying when looking in the mirror of course! Below are a few of my favorite things from BEFORE, DURING, and AFTER chemo treatments.
Hair: Pureology, and hundreds of dollars every 6 weeks at a salon.
About a year before my initial diagnosis, I was JUST getting my hair exactly where I wanted it to be. Long, golden blonde, luscious locks! I FINALLY found a hairdresser (Jessica Scott Santo with Tangles Salon and Spa– follow her on instagram: hairbyjessicascottsanto ) who I literally trusted with my “life” at the time aka my most prized possession… my hair! I went through years and years of over processing, hair extensions, and cheap shampoo/ conditioner, until I met Jess! 1. She immediately scolded me for washing my hair almost everyday, 2. she was adamant that I MUST stop using my good ole friend Herbal Essence, or Tresemme because it is simply POO POO! At first I was honestly like, “ya okay, another salon trying to sell me some crazy overpriced products. She was a good saleswoman though because I decided to buy Pureology and I am yet to go back to some drug store CRAP! It was hard at first to cut back on my daily hair scrubbing because I always thought it was soon dirty when people wouldn’t wash their hair everyday, however with A LOTTTT of trust in Jess and her Master stylist advice, I pushed through the first week or two of being a grease head, throwing my hair in ponytails and pounding on the perfume in hopes that no-one smelled my ratchet head stank… but then, something amazing happened! Just like she had told me, in time your body adjusts to its natural oils and I could go about 3-4 days now without washing my hair. NOT saying I don’t shower daily, so no worries my choocha does indeed smell like Sweet Pea from Bath and Body Works (because i’m stuck in the 90s duh)…but, You seriously have to try the no hair washing thing!
So weeks turned into months and probably around a year of only washing my hair maybe 2 x/week it literally was growing like weeds! Im the type that would freak if she would even trim my tippy ends because I hated losing the length, but I would go for regular trims and WHOOLAH, I finally had long hair without extensions and I truly credit it to Pureology! I specifically use the purple bottle and the conditioner has a sort of methyl that tingles your scalp and I swear promotes hair growth! Im living proof… I mean, I used only pureology when my hair started coming back in from chemo and heck, I’m on my way to being the new Rupunzel I swear! 🙂
Skin: No moisturizer which my mother cringes at because once you are 20 per my mother “you should be using AVON ANEW”.
Don’t kill the messenger but honestly before my diagnosis I did’t use ANYTHING to clean or moisturize my face because hellooooo i’m young, invincible, and will never get wrinkles, DUH! When I was in my awkward teenage years, I had BAD skin as I would describe it. Not truly a pizza face, but I would get discussing breakouts and began scarring. My dad brought my sisters and I to a dermatologist and I will never forget his advice. “You don’t need all these fancy products… the skin on your face is the same skin on your butt. Clean your face like you would clean your butt”. From that day forward I threw away my Proactive, stopped all my over the counter splurging and literally would wash my face in the shower and that is all. Maybe not the best advice from a doctor… but hey, pimples are gone and my skin looked good to me!
Makeup: Cheap drug store, hand me downs.
Okay so like i’ve said before my sister in LA is a model. Well along with that lifestyle, you get cool freebies like MAKEUP. Oh did I mention I have two sisters, both of which wear makeup. So, my theory… take the makeup Samii would give me, and “borrow” the other stuff I wanted. Lets be serious, anyone with sisters knows you ALWAYS “borrow” clothes, shoes, makeup… then you throw a fit and scream, yell, throw things at each other when you see that she “borrowed” something of yours. Pretty simply right! Basically before treatments I really didn’t use a certain brand of makeup. Samii I think JUST turned me on to Tarte products, but anything sparkly was good for me.
Nails: acrylic or paint, all day, errrday.
All my life i’ve done nails. When we were little girls, my mom would make it a point to always paint our nails. I remember she would go to get her nails done and pay an extra like 5.00 so we each could get flowers or dots painted on our nails. In my eyes, a girls nails should ALWAYS be done. I don’t care if your an athlete yadada… it takes like 5 minutes. Get that chipped nasty nail polish CHANGED! I literally used to change my polish daily. Basically you can call me obsessed. I probably have around 150 nail polishes (and I know because I have a rack that holds 150 bottles and an additional drawer filled with polishes). Up until I became poor in college and could no longer mooch mule off of my mom for acrylics… I was at the nail salon strictly every 2 weeks. Once I became a poor college student and working on the weekends meant better food… I became the Misericordia nail salon! Aside from my main pet peeve n life of having chipped nail polish, a bigger pet peeve is when I pay to get my nails painted for instance and I have to go home and fix them because they missed a part on the side or they CHIPPED! Grrrrr. Anyways, long story short… my nails NEVER breath and they always have nail polish on. If you see me without nail polish, something is deathly wrong! AND better yet, if your reading this and just looked down and said SHIT my nails look just like that… GIRL go paint your damn nails! 😉
Workout: Insanity and Pole Dancing.
I would have to say that during my college years I was rather active/ near athletic. Lets be real, and those of you that know me personally can attest that I run like a duck, I look awkward in a gym, and okay I’m far from athletic. BUT, my whole life I was really good at gymnastics and cheerleading! I’m flexible, agile, and hell just call me “Meggy Spaghetti”. My whole life from middle school through college I dealt with patellar dislocations or in lame mans terms, my knee caps pop out. I was always that cheerleading taping my limbs or wearing 2 long black knee braces on my legs while being thrown up in the air during basketball games. I LOVED cheerleading and it literally was my life! From playing soccer, softball, tae kwon do, basketball to mastering the art of cheerleading… I finally felt like I found something I was good at. All the other sports I was totally a bench warmer 🙂 haha. I just suck at running guys, but I’m okay with admitting my flaws!
So I entered college and turned down going to cheer for Pitt to go to Misericordia because did you know that you actually pay 30+,000.00 a year for college for a degree which leads you to a career… NOT sports, I mean unless your going to be a pro athlete I guess… I cheered competitively through my freshman year and dealt with my knees dislocating over and over. The one competition it actually dislocated minutes before we went out onto the floor and I was forced to tape it in place, compete, fly, and tumble, then collapsed after my adrenaline subsided and had major damage requiring surgery.
Basically, I couldn’t cheer anymore. I tried dance but my ballet skills weren’t up to par as some of the girls who stuck with dance their whole lives… then I found Pole Dancing. I would drive 1 hour to a gym every weekend and I was happy to do that. I found something I was good at, again. Lets get things straight everyone… I did POLE DANCING for exercise. It wasn’t performed in a club for dollar dollar bills, however I do have a very high respect for the girls who do trick pole dancing in clubs for money because that ISH is HARD! I LOVED IT! I bought a 300.00 pole and set it up in my dorm room of a Catholic College:).
Life went on and I began working my first big girl job. I began teaching some trick pole classes, then ended up focusing a lot more on my career and sort of fell away from it. :(I decided to start using Insanity DVDs to keep me in shape along with pole dancing to unwind and bring some enjoyment to my life. Insanity is basically INSANE! I remember my first day literally puking through the WARM UP!!!! I stuck with it, with the help of my sisters and cousin of course and I was really starting to feel good about myself! I would wake up a half hour before work to workout! That was soon not me, I need every single ounce of beauty sleep I can get! That was until I was doing some kind of crazy Insanity move and POP out goes my knee. Insanity is history since then…
Hair: Oh wait… I lost it all– BUT definitely spend the money on a high end 1.00 Loofah, its so worth it;)
After finding out I 100% NEEDED chemotherapy, my immediate thought was to find something to keep my normalcy and my beloved hair! I stumbled across Cold Caps and was convinced I would spend around 5,000-10,000.00 on the treatment that doesn’t have much research however does provide me with a glimpse of hope that I won’t lose my hair. BRRRPPP, wrong. As soon as I told my surgical oncologist about my idea he immediately NEXTED me. He brought out the research that he was familiar with and examples from his own practice. Cold caps are basically freezing your hair root or follicles to “protect” them from the chemicals in chemo. I guess in a way you can look at is as hibernation? My doctor explained that in his last hospital rotation, he saw a few girls use them who actually were later found with cancer spots on their scalps! His advice, “If you were my daughter or my sister, I would help you shave your head before I EVER would allow you to use those things”. Of course it is always my decision… but really, ever an ounce of a chance to be diagnosed with cancer somewhere else to me, IS NOTTTT worth hair! Thus my decision…
Basically I shaved my hair off before I started treatments because I DID NOT want cancer to take one more thing away from me, i’d rather do that myself! It was sort of empowering to me, in a situation I was NOT at all in power! So, I packed up my troops, my hubby, puppy, sisters, and cousin on facetime and we shaved my hair off together! I was very fortunate that a company my sister did work for Lavant Garde Hair actually took my long ponytails and turned them into a wig for me! Now I may look all smiles in my pictures but shaving my head was probably THE hardest thing about this whole journey. I basically was taking away my identity. A lot of times I hid behind my long blonde locks, and one it was gone… I felt vulnerable, ugly, and treaded looking into the mirror (read some of my earlier posts about my hair and you’ll get it)… basically when my shaved hair then began falling out in patches and was prickly at night when I laid down, I took it upon my self to straight razor it and it was the best thing I could have ever done. I was no longer uncomfortable, and HECK I felt pretty! I would put regular cheap dollar store hair gel on my hand and mix in some lose glitter than rub in only head and used my sparkle to make my feel beautiful!
Now like I said before, I also had a wig made of my hair. Because wigs especially silk front wigs which look the least fake are SUPER expensive… like I’m talking thousands of dollars, there are some options. First I cruised around amazon for some fun wigs because when else in my life would it be acceptable for me to wear pink or blue hair other than now?! Like I said before, I was also so so so fortunate to have the opportunity presented to me to have my own hair made into a wig, however… For those girls looking for options who don’t really feel comfortable rocking the bald head or “glitter head” look that I created… reach out to the American Cancer Society. They have programs that provide FREE yes and I really do mean FREE wigs to women with cancer! Check out your local branch today to get more information! What i’m trying to get at is that there are options. Some girls rock the head wrap/ hat thing… for me, thats just not my style. I was very anti “looking sick” however when I look back on pics I’m like “OMG did I really look like that!!” I feel like if you feel comfortable in your skin you will feel pretty and thats what matters most. To me, covering my head with a hat or wrap made ME feel sick, to other women… they look stunning, it just wasn’t my thing.
Even though I shaved my hair before chemo, soon enough the stubble began to fall out leaving me with patches:( Why in the world would I want to walk around with a line of hair, patches, and a four head that quickly became a sixteen head? So, I straight razored it all off! And I’m pretty sure that was the happiest I ever was! Oddly, I felt pretty again!
Eye Brows: Where they at?
Bet you never guessed that with the hair on your head loss comes body hair loss. I did not stutter. If you’re like me, you will be a naked mole rat for a short bit of your time throughout treatment. BUT, you DO have options!!!! You just have to get a little bit creative. My best advice is to USE your RESOURCES! Yes, like they stress all throughout your highschool/ college career. They are soon correct though. We live in the day that internet pretty much runs life! Get on YouTube and watch video after video then GO to ULTA/ SEPHORA and let the masters get to work!
I am soon thankful to my sister Samii Ryan when it came to fixing my hairless self. She did all my researching for me and I cannot tell you how much of a relief that was! So, here… now i’m gonna give you some of my tips! Tarte has absolutely AMAZING products however their eyebrow amazonian clay waterproof brow mousse was AMAZINGGGG when I was brow less! I used a small brow brush and literally would draw my brows on everyday but I would never have to worry about having to redo them every couple of hours. Now, because I was literally brow less, sometimes if I rubbed my face they would smear a little bit, but heck— thats what family is for, to fix your brows DUH!
Eye Lashes: Oh Yes those are gone too!
How in the world do your eyelashes fall out?! Thats what I was saying on the morning I looked in the mirror and first noticed my lashes literally looked torched. As I would wash my mascara off my eyes at night I noticed more and more lashes floating down the drain. They basically got really thinned at first then I was down to counting individual lashes towards the end of my treatments. You do not know how useful lashes are until you DO NOT have any. I literally was that girl who used lashes as an accessory. The bigger the better they say, and that was absolutely my motto before cancer on my lashes so lucky for me, I knew how to apply falsies, what glue worked the best etc. However, I never realized that lashes literally keep dirt, dust, and other random environmental floaters as I call them out of those two holes in your head!
My advice, experiment. You can try serums and spend money on trying to save them but the way I see it is whats going to happen is going to happen. God created makeup for a reason… now USE IT PEOPLE! Pull out that random pallet of shadows you have stashed away because the colors are bizarre, pick up some liquid eyeliners and BOOM you have yourself a concealed way of not having lashes! However, for those a little more makeup inclined and those who want to experiment… I used fake lashes every day through treatment! To preserve those lashes that are hanging on in there, if you are concerned about keeping the little guys, avoid mascara and eye make-up when possible and use a gentle eye make-up remover. On lashes still hanging on for dear life and if your chose to use false lashes, you have to be extremely careful when taking them off at night because your natural lashes (because the follicles are weaker), will fall out on the strip lash… however that was a risk I was willing to take!
My favorite lash glue is by Kiss and you MUST use the CLEAR version. It does come in black, but its harder to judge when the lashes are dry enough to apply– also I find that black glues burn my eyes, I’ve NEVER had this clear brand burn if I do get a little in my eyes which happened A LOT especially when I didn’t have lashes to adhere the glue to and I was moreso using my skin. The trick for applying lashes is WAIT FOR THE GLUE TO GET TACKY. Thats why I LOVE this glue, because it turns from white to a clearish purple when its tacky. I apply a healthy line across the strip lash, wait about 2-3 minutes then wooolah, lashes that last all day long! Truth be told, Ive actually used this glue and kept my lashes on about 3 days, being extremely careful when sleeping because face in the pillow calls for some creased lashes in the morning, and that simply is NOT cute.
Whispies and demi’s and human hair, OH MY! decisions decisions… where to start when choosing lashes. My recommendation for starters are Whispies. They, to me look the most natural for the price of about 3.00ish depending where you find them. They are a typical drug store lash, CVS, Wal Mart, Rite Aid all carries them. I actually found these Broadway lashes from Dollar Genral, I think they run me around 2.00 and I was OBSESSED with them during treatments. They are a little longer so they give your eye more of a wabooom look, but I just love them!
Skin: IT cosmetics
With chemo comes dry skin, as well as my moms long lost DREAM of me using a facial moisturizer! You do HAVE to be careful when choosing new products once on chemo because your skin does change. I became so much more sensitive and found that brands such as Avon Anew burned and I just didn’t like it. Until I found this guy!!!! Heaven in a jar! I am OBSESSED all around with IT Cosmetics as I was halfway through chemo, felt like crap, looked like crap, so on those types of days what do us girls do? Head to Ultra to shop for makeup, DUH!!!! I met some amazing ladies who spent time explaining benefits and trailing different products on my skin. Thats when I found this little yellow jar!
You may have seen the commercial for IT Cosmetics where the woman has rosacea and she wipes off half her face (the makeup covered face) and it uncovers a bunch of red, speckled skin… but the other side is completely covered. Well, if it worked for her, I was like HELLS YES it should work on my chemo covered skin, and it DID! It is called “Confidence in a Jar” and that is exactly what it gives me! I bought my first jar at ULTA then my aunt bought me a jar on QVC for cheaper.
Basically “this moisturizer helps improve the appearance of your skin’s texture while helping to minimize the appearance of pores, fine lines, and wrinkles. Hypoallergenic and perfect for all skin types, your skin appears smoother, hydrated, and younger looking”. Why is it different you ask? “Confidence in a Cream is formulated with ceramides, peptides, collagen, hyaluronic acid, antioxidants, and colloidal oatmeal. It helps minimize the look of fine lines and wrinkles while smoothing the texture of your skin and delivering moisture to your skin. Paraben-free, hypoallergenic, and non-irritating, this super cream is perfect for all skin types” (Thank You, QVC). I basically am in love with this jar!
Basically I unveiled many of my secrets about stealing my sisters makeup over the years, however once I started treatments I wanted to feel pretty without hair, so I splurged on some fancy products. Basically, my makeup bag is filled with IT cosmetics, Tarte, NYX, Jefrey Star for lips obvi and my brushes. My life is complete with some Ulta gift cards and QVC 😉
I did find that during chemo, I needed a good primer for my makeup to last all day. I use NYX (pictured above), I like the purple “photo loving primer” its just super light weight I hardly know its there but it obviously does its job because my makeup does indeed last! Oh yes, and get yourself a real BEAUTY BLENDER– they are gentle on your skin and give you that sort of airbrush finish. I use mine for my primer and foundation!
Lips: Your newest asset
The truth is, once your bald you have to find SOMETHING to make you feel pretty and stand out. For me, I turned to my smoochies or my lips. When life gives you lemons, you must make lemonade, therefore when hairless, pale, and weak… sometimes you just gotta spice your life up with some bold, bright, glossy or matte lipies!!! What better way to feel sparkly, sexy, spunky, and glamorous than trying out the colors you would have never dreamed of wearing before?! Truth is, I was always a clear lipgloss type prior to cancer. Actually my mom and sisters would always make fun of me because I HATED colored lip. My sisters would look so hot with their bright red, perfectly lined lips, and I literally felt like a clown.
One thing i’ve noticed is how OBSESSED I am with a bright lip. Now I mean a good nude is always a necessity in a girls purse, but you really do have to try out some color! I love my bright reds, hot pinks, and yes PURPLE! My newest craze is the lip sticks aka liquid velour by Internet Royalty himself, Jeffree Star! He makes the most light weight liquid-to-matte lipstick on the market! New colors are introduced constantly but these things sell fast! Follow him on instagram for a sneak peak into new releases and re-stock! I literally cannot rave enough about these loves! They do cost you about 18.00 however, totalllllly worth it in my eyes! Through treatments you lips may get more dry than normal, I simply used Berts Bees chapstick and put my color right on top of it and it lasts all day long! Some of my favorites are “Mannequin, Unicorn Blood, and Prom Night”! — PS: don’t you just LOVEEEE those names! One thing that doesn’t go anywhere throughout treatment are those lips, so work it girl— and always remember, “you’re never fully dressed without a smile”.
Toothpaste: mouth ulcers/ sores
One symptom of chemo especially Adriamycin are mouth sores and ulcers.I remember my taste buds becoming soon dull to the point that the only thing I craved was BBQ wings with extra sauce! I literally ate to live, but didn’t really enjoy very much anything because I couldn’t taste it for a while! I noticed some oral irritation and 1 little white ulcer on the side of my tongue one day. It was so so painful so I rinsed with peroxide and yes, popped it like a pimple! It was INSTANT relief!!! I kept it clean rinsing daily and had my nurse check it, but it healed within a few days. After that however my mouth became EXTREMELY sensitive. I switches to a baby soft tooth brush, limited my mouth rinse (non alcoholic Listerine still burnt), and I tried soon many toothpastes all of which BURNED so bad that I would brush then run my tongue underneath the water to relief the burn.
The best paste I found was Sensodyne for a while however I was still rinsing my tongue overtime I brushed my teeth. I reached out to my dentist and they couldn’t really recommend anything that I haven’t tried. That was until I reached out to my MOM! Who else to go to when times are tough, right!
My mom is a consultant for DoTerra, most commonly known for their essential oils. Through my whole cancer journey my family really has switched to more natural/ organic foods and toiletries all around. That was when I finally found MY TOOTHPASTE!
My biggest issue with Natural toothpastes is 1. my teeth don’t feel clean, and 2. there isn’t a whitening agent, and I pride myself on my sparkly teeth so I was just dealing with the burn! Pain for beauty, you know. Well, that was until I tried this tube! AMAZING IN A BOTTLE!!!! It leaves such a fresh flavor in your mouth, my teeth feel clean, and WHITE! ANYONE with a sensitive mouth MUST try this stuff! Now my dentist was concerned for the lack of fluoride in it however I do supplement it with a alcohol free mouth wash with fluoride that burns but I just rinse my tongue afterwards. You really have to try this stuff!
DoTerra Essential Oils-– http://mydoterra.com/cherylryan
Now, since I started talking about it.. lets talk this amazing company. So, pretty much i’m obsessed with all of their products. Along with any cancer and treatments comes stress, anxiety, and in my case odd side effects. Well as my mom says, “I have an oil for that”. Now I don’t know about you, but I absolutely HATE pills! Half of the reason is the simple fact that I am allergic to so many different medications. When I was going through chemo, I turned to essential oils to help fight the many dreaded side effects. From ingesting, using topically, to placing a few drops into my diffuser, my oils surround me on the daily! It is absolutely AMAZING how one drop of peppermint oil on my temples can almost immediately heal my headaches, or having my diffuser fill the air with the essence of lavender… magically I go right to sleep without having severe anxiety before bed! Im telling you this stuff is amazing! Now there is a bunch of studies of cancer and Frankincense oil… in my eyes, Jesus received it as a gift from the kings for a reason— Im gonna go sniff some oils now:) Check out my moms site http://mydoterra.com/cherylryan — GO BUY YOURSELF SOMETHING AMAZING!
Vitamins: DoTerra DUH! and some Biotin for Rapunzel Hair
So anyone going through cancer treatments will quickly learn how absolutely BEAT UP your body is going to be. Meet DOTERRA DDR PRIME gel capsules! Its primary benefits
are to “promote a healthy response to free-radicals. It protects the body and cells from oxidative stress” (DoTerra). I actually really enjoy taking these pills twice daily. I HATE vitamins… but these gel caps unlike some other vitamins and oil based tablets like Fish Oil, this pill leaves the most pleasant almost floral after taste, I feel so healthy haha!
Key Ingredients and Benefits
Frankincense: Promotes a healthy response to free radicals*
Wild Orange: Supports a healthy cellular response*
Lemongrass: Protects against environmental threats*
Thyme: Broad-spectrum activity in promoting immunity and cellular health*
Summer Savory: Supports healthy response to oxidative stress*
Clove: Powerful antioxidant properties*
Niaouli: Supports cellular immunity*
HELLO EVERYTHING I NEED!
I also need a little hair help, obviously! Well, get to the store right now and get some BIOTIN in your system. My secret is about 10,000 mcg a day. One again, I take these with my DoTerra pills and I mean, I see the difference! Every patient is different… but compared to some other girls sorta similar to my time line of treatments, my hair is thicker, and lengthier! Whether it be the Pureology or Biotin, or both… I’m gonna keep doing what I’m doing!
Nails: glue ons– limit nail polish**
Just as chemo has affects on your hair, guess what— your nails are living too therefore these nasty chemicals affect them as well. Sorry to be the barer of bad news on this one. They tell you NO nail polish during active treatments because it is very important for you to observe changes such as lines in the nail, indentations, change in pigments or discoloration, brittleness, or dryness.You may find that your cuticles are fraying more, and that your nails keep breaking and are just not growing back! Just like any other thing that chemo decides to take away from us, in time they will return… but what to do in the meantime!
Nail Care is of utmost importance when going through chemo. There are things to do and things NOT to do. DO NOT Peel or pick any lose or frayed cuticles, instead take a small pair of cuticle scissors, clean it with alcohol, and carefully trim around the nail bed being sure not to cut or cause bleeding. If you notice your nails lifting off the nail bed, be very careful. This may make your nail vulnerable to falling off however your biggest awareness must be towards not allowing bacteria to get underneath the nail. Wash Wash and again WASH your hands!
SIDE NOTE: Did you know that nail care has a direct correlation in preventing lymphedema? I didn’t know any of this until I saw my lymphedema specialist…After surgery and if you had lymph nodes removed as in my case, you are at a higher risk for lymphedema which is a condition that occurs when lymph fluid gets stuck in the tissues of the arm causing swelling because the nodes are no longer working to push it through the body. Hangnails or cuts on your hands, fingers, or nails could lead to an infection which puts breast cancer girlies at a high risk.
What did I do during treatment? Well of course I BROKE THE RULES! First things first, I literally did checks daily of my skin etc. but I COULD NOT do the whole bare nails thing. I first would use a cuticle oil and hand moisturizers constantly to aide against the harmful effects of the chemo. Then, instead of painting my nails… I glued them on! Therefore about every 3 days or so they’d pop off and I could check their quality. I had no problems at all using glue ons. My doctor didn’t have a problem being that I was doing checks. I DID leave nail polish off of my toes, just so I did atlas have those to look at daily. I noticed brittleness and some lines, but nothing too severe thankfully! Heres some pics of my nails during treatments. After chemo I waited around 3-4 months before starting to get acrylics again. So yes, i’m back to my bad habits of biweekly trips to the nails salon… did I mention I LOVE IT?!
Workout: walking besides John and Izzy on the good days, Physical therapy
Truthfully, I am about 9 months out from initial treatment, 5 months from chemo, and currently undergoing radiation and I am still WHOOPED! It is still quite difficult for me to have my energy to clean, cook, shop, and party like I used to. It seems ridiculous to me however when I look at all my body has undergone, I’m like DUH that why I feel like crap! Basically throughout chemo, waking up and existing was my work outs. John and I would take Izzy for walks, John of course holding the leash and me walking along side of them. Even a short circle around the block felt like miles!
I also was undergoing Physical therapy, 1. for my prior leg surgery, 2. to increase energy/ endurance, 3. especially after my double mastectomies. It is so so so important to speak to your physician about the therapy aspect to your care. Sometimes, appointments at therapy and simply getting out of the house will truly brighten your day. From aquatic therapy to simply using electrical stimulation to activate my muscles, there is ALWAYS something to work on in physical therapy. Its a love hate relationship we have… and I will forever refer to them as Physical Torturizers— Occupational Therapist are so much kinder;) — blog post to come, why OT should be utilized MUCH more in the life of a patient with cancer…
Look Good Feel Better Class
I have not had the time to go just yet, BUT I have heard all about the “Look Good Feel Better” courses provided through the American Cancer Society! It’s free program and what better way to learn new tips and tricks about things you hadn’t had to do before than by FREE professionals! Its like a no brainer!!! I personally had my sister telling me all my tips, but if I had’t had her, I absolutely would have signed up for this instantly! I think my local does one per month, but you do have to pre-register. AND supposedly, you get a whole goody bag full of top-branded make-up such as Clinique, and Estee Lauder!
Once the day finally comes that I am DONE with all treatments, I think ultimately I am going to shed tears of joy, go outside and scream as loudly as I can, and simply hug the air because I DID IT and I am ALIVE! I am going to keep a lot of the more positive habits that I have endured over the last year and keep them forever! From eating organically to buying better quality makeups etc. I am going to take the time to research and see what is good for my body, where before Id grab the cheapest on the shelf!
The greatest thing I’ve learned in all of this is, if we can do small things to make ourselves feel and look a bit more “normal”, along with a bit of well-deserved pampering, it really does help with our confidence and general well-being.This is for anybody, not just us lucky few who are going through treatments! Self confidence is key, if you look in that mirror and you feel pretty, I PROMISE you will look pretty to everyone else. In time you will regain your energy and do what makes you happy!
2.5 months after my double mastectomies I was kayaking! I’m getting ready to return to my work as an acute care Occupational Therapist, and I am loving my life!!My greatest advice is try not to be too harsh on yourself, listen to your body, try to get educated on healthier habits, and most definitely treat yourself to a shopping spree every now and then! Do what makes you feel like YOU, and DO NOT forget… you are still the person you were before this diagnosis. Its taken me a while but I am still Meghan, even when the mirror doesn’t show it… my heart does!