This year my Martin Luther King day was spent a little bit differently than the years prior. When I was in school, it was a day in reflection, when I worked in the hospital, it was just another day making people more independent in many areas of life. This year working in a school, I get a day off, much needed I might add but also a day where different opportunities can present themselves… and thats is exactly how I spent this past Monday!
“Lifes most persistent and urgent question is, what are you doing for others?”- Martin Luther King Jr. I decided that I am far more fortunate than some when it comes to spending time and doing special things with friends and family. So, when I was awarded the Fab*U*Wish day of pampering from Guiliana Rancic, Nordstrom, and Estee Lauder, there was no doubt in my mind that I had to share this experience… but with who? It didnt take me long to decide that the people that deserve this experience the most is other young girls going through the breast cancer journey like me!I immediately sent out a post on instagram on a quest to find 3 of the most perfect girls in the Pittsburgh area who 1. Wanted a makeover, and 2. Who was eager to share their journey with me! A day I assumed would consist of makeup and lunch turned into an experience I will remember and cherish for the rest of my life!
I had many women, actually even from outside the Pittsburgh area reach out to me… but in my heart I knew I had to meet Katie, Lissa, and Sarah all young, strong, determined women fighting breast cancer under the age of 35! For the first time in my life since October 2015 when I was diagnosed, I felt a bond and a connection that is different from any of my friends or family. Its like when I was with these girls, they just “got it”. I didnt have to fight back tears, hold in my emotions, or try to sugar coat things as not to offend the general “non cancer” public. I could talk about the evil “c” as much as I wanted without being judged or feeling like the person on the other aide doesn’t really want to talk about the topic and they are just being polite, which happens often!
The day arrived and my incredible mother in law was even willing to share in this special day on her day off! My mom and sister live over 4 hours away and I couldn’t plan a day for my close friends and cousin to attend so, looks like we’ll just have to plan another day of pampering… oh darn!;) Anyways, my mother in law arrived at my house in her mink floor length coat which I am totally jealous over because its gorgeous, so I had to pull out my faux fur coat and away we went!
Our day of pampering took place at Ross Park Mall in McCandelis PA, about 15 minutes from downtown Pittsburgh. We found a parking spot and my first stop in the mall was Teavana! Im sort of like a fein for it… since ive moved to Pittsburgh, Ive only been buying their tea and making it at home in my fancy smancy Teavana 200.00 tea maker, however I swear it doesnt taste the same! So, as I grabbed my tea, my mother in law and her hypersensitive nose stayed outside as to not get nauseated by the smells of the fruity teas before our makeover… we just couldnt have that now!
We walked back to Nordstrom and towards the Estee Lauder cosemetics counter where we met our two makeup artists. Sandy Clark is a beauty advisor at this local Nordstrom and was ever so personable, talented, and engaged throughout our sessions, and Cindy Toohey is an actual make up artist from Estée Lauder who ever so graciously traveled over an hour and a half to not just put makeup on our faces, but to learn about our journeys and provide us with a make over experience by educating us on makeup application and products, skin care, and also provided an open ear and heart as us girls were chattering along as she was trying to apply lip stick to a moving mouth (that would be mine if you couldnt have guessed).
Both Sandy and Cindy created a day that truly made each of us feel like individual princesses. They matched our complexions with this awesome doohickey as I like to refer to it as that actually takes the lighting out of the assessment to gain an accurate interpretation of your skin color. They let us look at colors of blush, eye shadows, and my favorite lip sticks! We were encouraged to think outside the box, as a few of the girls dont typically wear as much makeup as I normally do… it was so fun for them to pick the brighter of the two pink lipsticks, or ask for a little more mascara! This experience not only pampered us and made us look hawt on the outside, but towards the end when we were all dolled up, you could tell that we had all found our #sparkleon (that internal beauty that radiates to the outside).
To me, makeup has always been a way to feel more beautiful. Where there are many women in the world whom feel that all naturale or basic is beautiful… I completely disagree. I feel like God created makeup for a reason, and honey if it adds an extra 15 minutes of time onto your morning routine, go to bed 15 minutes earlier because girlllll you look sooooo much better with makeup;). Some may think im a bit vain now, but come on! When I was going through chemo and legit resembled Uncle Fester from the Adams Family, do you really think that telling me my all naturale look was beautiful? Honey, NO! As my sister told me, “put some damn makeup on your face!” Because girl, you will feel so much better about yourself.
To my cancer sisters… chemo and the other drugs that you may be on now from hormone blockers to mood boosters, these all have a direct correlation to what your lovely skin looks and feels like. Not only does chemo attack the good and bad cells of your body, but all these drugs changes your entire chemical makeup, so its especially important to compensate for these changes… when it comes to your skin. There are a kazillion companies out there some thriving off of being chemical free, other high end make-up companies being famous off of their celebrity ambassadors, my advice… go to your local Nordstrom, walk up to the Estee Lauder cosmetic counter and say “hey, I have cancer… fix my face” and im sure they will look at you like your crazy, but im telling you, these ladies have a lot of knowledge that can really help you to look even more fabulous!
Makeup aside, one of THE most amazing moments for me that day, and Katie I hope you dont get upset with me for blowing up your spot here… but, Katie was the one pink sister who I invited who is right in the middle of chemo. Where the other three of us have finished that stage and have our short hair do’s growing and were still sorta trying to figure out the new “us”.
So, this gorgeous girl Katie shows up, head covered like many women who are going through chemo do. Sidenote: When I was first going through chemo I felt like by wearing my wigs, or hats I could somehow hide what im going through, or feel more “normal” with a covered head… i dont know, losing your hair is so uncomfortable, heart breaking, and image degrading as a young woman… you are vulnerable and dont have hair to hide behind. But now I look back and im like Goshhh why didnt I rock the bald look more often, it truly is beautiful…
Anyways, so this beautiful girl walks up to the beauty counter and we start talking yadada… so shes getting her makeup done, and literally Cindy adds just a little bit of foundation and vavooom, Katies face is looking brighter and her smile is getting a little bit bigger etc. Okay, so I think I was in the chair then getting my makeup done and Katie says something along the lines of, “im going to keep this off because Im with you girls”— okay it wasnt those words at all my chemo brain, short term memory loss totally messed that one up. But, what I am getting at is… this day of makeovers didnt just pamper us, make us feel beautiful, and educate us about other young cancer journeys… but, it did something so much more! You see, towards the end of this experience, we all gained something even I deal with on the daily… we had confidence. You know, Katie walked around with us, ate lunch, and as we said our farewells… that beautiful bald head of hers was still out and about! It was an amazing moment I will never forget it.
Estee Lauder treated us to literally fabulous goodie bags, and I know I straight up felt like a celebrity! We were taking pictures and it was just so fun! Nordstrom hosted us for an all inclusive lunch at their totally wonderful Nordstrom Cafe! Now I have never eaten here before, and boyyyy am I sorry I never have because, OMG my mouth is actually watering just thinking about it! The food is so fresh and beautifully prepared, I might have to go there for dinner tonight 😉 and, let me not forget the staff that took care of us! I cant even put into words how fabulous every single staff member I came in contact with that day, so welcoming… eager to meet us, it was definitely red carpet status!
After gobbling down some scrumptious salads, it turned out that our fantasy day had to come to an end. Words literally cannot describe the bond I felt meeting these girls, getting to know about their hardships with balancing work and cancer, kids and cancer, husbands and cancer, owning a Chick-Fil-A and cancer… like seriously, did I tell you how amazing these girls really are?!
It all goes back to a quote that I grew up with and had engraved in my head by a group of British girls… Girl Power! Us girls can do anything, it doesnt matter if our roads are crossed my cancer, failure, heartbreak, or loss… we are girls, we are beautiful, and we are strong, when we stand together, we can make it through anything! I am so blessed to have met Lissa, Katie, and Sarah… thank you for influencing me to keep on fighting and never give up! And the biggest thank you to The Pink Agenda, Guiliana Rancic, Fab U Wish, Estee Lauder, Nordstrom, and the Ross Park Mall and staff for making this whole day possible!