NOT ME by Guest Blogger Christine Handy

Christine_couchChristine, today.

I remember some of the details of the days leading up to my breast cancer diagnosis and of the moment the doctor called me with the results. The initial memories I do have are memories of disbelief and fear, not anger. The memories are of deep sadness, but not pity. They are of confusion and guttural pain. It’s a day nobody wants to experience and a day I will never soon forget.

I was diagnosed with breast cancer October 1st 2013, I was 43 years young with no family history of the disease. I was one of those ladies that never took the self exam seriously. But on that one, very random evening in late September for no apparent reason at all, I gave myself a breast exam and found a lump. It was a hard mass below my left nipple and it seemed to appear out of nowhere. That night my husband and I convinced ourselves that it was a cyst, it couldn’t be cancer. Not only did I not have any family history, but I worked out 6 days a week. I’m allergic to sugar so don’t eat any and I’m a vegetarian. Other than the major debacle with my right arm I was otherwise very heathy. This could not happen to me.

I was out of town the night I felt the lump and as chance would have it, it was on a Saturday. During my initial frenzy I contemplated going to the emergency room, but I had to come to grips with the reality that I had to wait. The compulsion for an answer that gripped my every breath was intense and yet I could do nothing about it. By Tuesday, I was back home and called my obstetrician who referred me to a breast specialist. Oh boy , I thought, here we go. I called the specialist and begged my way into an appointment the following morning. More waiting. I look back to the waiting during those days and I still shake my head. It was agonizing.

The following morning my husband and I headed to the “specialist”. Something unexpected happened when I checked into the reception area that morning. I started to feel humiliation. I had a lump. I was a marked woman (I thought) and I actually felt shame. I can’t explain why I felt humiliation, but I can only surmise it was because of the stigma attached to the word cancer . I remember growing up and adults whispering to each other, ” oh she’s the one with cancer,” like it was shameful. I had already felt fear and now I felt the black mark.

The specialist’s office was typical and systematic. We got to speak to the doctor fairly quickly, a brief hello and off with the shirt and bra. He did a physical exam and said that he believed the mass on my left breast was a cyst just from the touch and from the way it “moved.” I felt a surge of relief. I may have even smiled. The doctor then asked my husband to head to the waiting room and I was shuffled over to the line for the mammogram. I sat next to another lady who was older than me, I recall. She was very pleasant and started to talk to me. She said that she was there for her 6 month check up. She also said she had been diagnosed with breast cancer the year before, but that it was stage one and therefore she didn’t have to undergo any chemotherapy treatment. I felt sorry for her. She, although older than me, was still way too young to have had cancer- I thought.

Shortly after my mammogram , I was back in an exam room feeling pretty confident and a bit more at ease. The doctor came back into the exam room, sat next to me while placing his hand on my knee and said in a quiet , genteel voice that possibly it wasn’t a cyst, but that I should not be concerned. He also said that they needed to do a needle biopsy the next day. This was some kind of roller coaster and my brief feelings of relief were washed away by total panic. I remember I started to cry. All the emotional courage I had mustered up collapsed right before me. I asked for the nurse to go get my husband and she did. My husband walked in a few minutes later with a swagger and a smile but when he looked at me he immediately stopped and asked ” what’s wrong”. I explained to him what the doctor had said to me and then he lowered his head and in a solemn manner spoke out an, “awwwwww” sound . I knew from his tone and expression the he knew at this point that this was serious. As much as he recovered quickly and tried to convince me that it was going to be fine, I knew he felt differently.

It was at this very moment when the anger began. We left the breast specialist’s office and as I walked to the car I started to sob. You see, in the 14 months prior to this very day, I had had surgery on my right arm that led to an infection which went misdiagnosed for 5 months. The infection- during those 5 months- literally ate away all of my cartilage in my right wrist and broke every single bone while decaying the bones that were left. The misdiagnosis led to 6 additional arm surgeries, somewhere around 14 different arm casts and months of ridiculously painful physical rehab. It also led to my having a PICC line that was inserted into my upper right tricep and threaded to my heart. This allowed my “new” infectious disease doctor (I didn’t even know this type of doctor existed) to pump me with what was described as ” World War 2 ” intensity antibiotics to stop the infection. Even after all this, I ended up with a permanently disabled right arm.

So, on this very sad solemn day in late September 2013 while walking to my car fearing the worst , I was still in a cast . You see the reason I was out of town when I found the lump was not because I was on some kind of vacation after the arm debacle. It was because I was in NYC seeing the surgeon that had just fused and bone grafted my wrist. It was my 6 week post surgery check up. I hadn’t even gotten a chance to realize the magnitude of my permanently fused arm and I was worrying about having breast cancer. By the time I got to the car that day in Dallas Texas, in the parking lot outside of the breast specialists office, I started to scream. Literally scream in broad daylight. I couldn’t wrap my brain around having any more pain, any more suffering and I especially couldn’t imagine having cancer. Was all that I had gone through with my arm not enough? Was I being punished? I screamed and screamed and screamed some more. Not me. Not me I cried. 

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photo-262The week before chemo starts.

photo-264Chopping hair off before losing it to chemo. 

Christine_PeterChristine & her husband, Peter. 

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Christine resides between Dallas and Miami. She is a wife and mom to two great teenage sons. She’s a former model and power athlete. Stay tuned for Christine’s next inspiring post! She is also writing a book about her dual journey with her battle with breast cancer and the fusion of her arm. 

 

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THE STRUGGLE FOR BEAUTY VS. THE BEAUTY IN STRUGGLE By Guest Blogger- My Sister Natalie Bolton

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Let me start off by saying that I am here to write about beauty-this is my agreed upon agenda. And as a licensed esthetician, I know a thing or two about beauty. So here we go…

I’m Natalie. I am your typical girl, well, to be clear; I am your typical tomboy slash girl. Growing up I would fight with my mother to wash my hair, and all hell would break loose if she caught me digging out my dirty clothes from the hamper to do the trusty “re-wear”.

So it’s actually a little funny that I am here to talk beauty, but life has its beautiful twists and turns.

As a kid, I would watch my big sister do her (what I thought to be mystical and enigmatic) fashion and make-up rituals. It was as if I was watching spirits being called down in a Native American fire dance or something. It was just so mysterious to witness for someone such as myself that was more of the likes of perfecting the art of rounding third base. She was so sophisticated and graceful.  As I got older I started to see other kinds of beautiful as well.

And it had nothing to do with product, the latest miracle whatever or overpriced red-bottomed shoes.

It all started when I was 13 traveling the world as a missionary. I was part of a team that helped build homes, provide and prepare food, and gave clothing to families in need. I was able to see through all the barriers and experience the beauty in these people for who they were, how they lived, and the texture of their struggle, which made them beautiful.

As I was doing my best to bring solace to these less fortunate, they also provided me with something-an exhilarating joy and peace that only comes from serving others and giving back.

Cut to a few months back, I had the privilege of performing a facial treatment on a new client. She was a tiny woman with the biggest, sweetest spirit. I walked back in the treatment room from allowing her to change before the service, and was shocked to see that she had removed her wig. Her hair was wiry, patchy, and grayed in some spots-but I didn’t react or comment. I draped her hair like I would at the start of any facial and simply began. She was gripping the wig in her hands to the point that her knuckles could arguably have been turning white. I then sensed that this wig must have become such a protective piece of armor. And it was in this moment my heart was touched by her. By the end of the facial she was no longer gripping her wig. She had trusted me and was completely relaxed and was able to fall asleep -so much so, that she was snoring sweetly. 

I felt honored to be able to provide service for this woman (who was a cancer survivor as she explained to me later). The uncomfortable realization that I have never had to sit in a doctor’s office to receive a life threatening diagnosis stirred something inside me. It hit me like a runaway train. I have never had to walk in those shoes, and yet, my experience with her for this brief time was completely life affirming. She touched me. I’m not really even sure why. As my client she was kind and thankful for my service and extremely pleasant. She was so beautiful on the inside in spite of the remaining effects of her pain. So beautiful in what she had endured. In that moment she was beautiful to me. She brought back for me the feeling I had serving others in those far away lands. The feeling of connecting with another human being came back to me with such a fierce familiarity. 

And once again I am experiencing the glorious confusion of who is actually being of service to whom. She made a difference in my life.  I will never forget that exchange.

Living in the land of the “beautiful people” I know that beauty comes in many forms, but I strongly believe it all starts from within. The mandate for my life is not only bringing beauty to people by external means with new technologies, and cutting-edge technique, my goal is to also refresh the spirit. I pray every morning to bring beauty to the spirit of everyone I touch-so they leave feeling more beautiful and at peace after they leave me. I want to live my life like that as well.

I want to leave the world more beautiful than when I found it.

Shifting gears a bit; I feel that one of the most important issues in the beauty industry today is the lie we believe about ourselves. We are inundated with the lie that we are not enough, and we believe it over and over again. Little girls are growing up feeling inadequate-too fat, too short, eyes are too big, nose not perfect…and these lies are dangerous. These lies are killing us. The beauty industry is a 59.8 billion dollar industry in the US alone. So it is clear we all desperately desire to see beauty through our view. And I am by no means trying to bring profit loss to this industry. BUT I think we can redirect the way people see themselves. We can reaffirm the beauty within us. We can embrace the inherited diversity that lies within and that is brought to life by existing with others. The difference that gives one little girl signature freckles and another little girl slanted almond shaped eyes IS the definition of beauty.

We need to re-approach the beauty industry from a place of celebration and not from a place of fear.

I find it my personal mission to be on the forefront of that redirection and reconnection to the beauty that exists in all of us.I am here to take a stand for every person I encounter to help transform his or her negative view.  And I have no problem doing it one by every single one.

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Natalie is a board certified licensed esthetician and the owner of Corpus Dei Perfumes, which retails in Los Angeles (www.corpusdeiperfumes.com). Her creative cup runneth over as she feels it is a blessing to be able to combine her skincare credentials with her nutrition background, and ultimately tie in her knowledge of essential oils all for the result of healing, beautifying and ultimate personal enrichment. Natalie truly feels that our body is our temple. We must create the space for us to want to come sit within ourselves and attract others to want to visit as well.

Any questions, comments or information on Natalie:

www.nataliebolton.com

www.corpusdeiperfumes.com

facebook: msnataliebolton

twitter: msnataliebolton

instagram: shetalkstoangelsrunswithwolves

Email: Natalie@nataliebolton.com

Pulling out the BIG GUNS…we’re camouflaging the muffin top!

Hey Sparklers!

I hope everyone enjoyed celebrating their Independence yesterday! Even if you aren’t American, we are all FREE on many levels. For that alone, we should all be truly grateful today. I sure am.

In today’s new webisode I pull out the big guns and attack an issue many of use deal with as women no matter if you’re a size 4.  Due to birthing beautiful babies, poor posture or over production of cortisol due to stress– many of us are dealing with the dreaded MUFFIN TOP SYNDROME……..Grrrrrrrr!   Fortunately, there are several tricks to camouflaging this body part we all despise. Check it out…

{Obviously, this is the don’t}

REMEMBER, I am loving spoiling you girls to death this summer with a fabulous Swag Bag Giveaway every week through August. All you have to do to participate is follow the SOS facebook page, make comments and be a subscriber of this blog!  Here’s what is in this weeks bag- winner announced Friday afternoon:

“The Go- Giver” by Bob Burg

This gorgeous journal from Luscious Soul

Face Serum by Sia Botanics

Beauty Sprinkles Vitamin Cocktail Mask

Colour Couture Tan Extender (one of my fave products ever)

These fabulous shades by StarStruck Eyewear

My final thought-

after learning that so many of you SOS sistas are cancer survivors and now watching so many hanging on for their lives due to this unforgiving disease- please make sure you ALL follow your dreams every single day! Life is precious. Life is short. Please do not waste time moaning and groaning about what “should have been”. Get busy living life.

If you have a brilliant idea for a small business designing jewelry….DO IT!

If you want to learn how to salsa dance….DO IT!

If you want to finish your degree….DO IT!

If you want to take a mission trip to Haiti….DO IT!

Trust me, I am guilty of getting stuck in the day-to-day crap and can make excuses like the best of them.  That’s why I love Pinterest so much! I am a visual, artistic person and so inspired by the virtual vision boards we are able to create there. I highly recommend creating inspiration boards of all the things you want to see manifest in your life!  Whether it’s on Pinterest or a collage of things on your fridge, make sure keep your dreams + visions in your sight everyday. 

Where there is no vision, the people perish. (Proverbs 29:18)

High five + a hip bump,

Tiff

HATS. HEADSCARVES. HOPE.

Hello Gorgeous!

It’s Black Friday- the day all serious shopping addicts can get their “fix” on!  Are you braving the malls today?  If so, are you insane girl?  I truly hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving and created special memories with good friends and loved ones.  

NEW WEBISODE:

A few viewers have asked me to give some options for cute winter hats while their hair is growing back after chemotherapy and I also show how to tie my signature headscarf look.  I realize this is a sensitive subject, but I believe these brave women should feel as fashionable as possible during this transition.  In 2011, there will be 2.6 million breast cancer survivors so I know this has touched all of our lives directly or indirectly in some way. Celebrating their courage and bravery today!

For Fall 2011, the hat must have- A Floppy Fedora!

OR grab a chic hat with feather accents like this one my BFF, Heidi is wearing by Jessica Simpson!

Have you tried the GLOW DIET?  

I have been diligent in eating blueberries every morning and have been adding more kale and sweet potatoes to our meals. Not only does your skin glow, but it amps up your energy too.    Remember, our skin takes a toll in winter with the extreme temp changes from outdoors to indoors with the brutal heaters so take special care of your beautiful face!  Change up your night cream and moisturizers.  Most of you know, I love the Arbonne RE9 line especially their night cream, but wanted to change things up.   For the past 3 weeks, I have been using VICHY’S Liftactiv Retinol HA Night Cream and give it 2 thumbs up.  It has a TRIPLE dose of  Hyaluronic Acid for an intense, stabilized filling action + New Generation Retinol (Retinol+Adenosine Complex) for an accelerated resurfacing effect.  Your skin looks plumper after the first use. SERIOUSLY!  I love the convenience of being able to pick it up at CVS!

BE INSPIRED:

I have to share a new beautiful song by my hubby called “My Number One”.  Take a few minutes to listen and be inspired!

http://soundcloud.com/aaronhendraproject/my-number-one

“It’s so important to tell those we love how important they are while we have the chance.  My new song, ‘My Number One’ talks about two lives that left this world without knowing, without hearing the words… It’s important today and everyday to tell those we love how much they mean to us”. ~AH

Sharing the beauty, style + inspiration,

xoTiff

5 Fabulous Fall Styles (plus a few extras)

Hello Beautiful!

WooHoo!  Get ready to SHOP YOUR CLOSET!  Most of the looks for Fall 2011 are repeats and carried over from last Fall.  There are a few stand out colors for this Fall- MUSTARD GOLD & PEACOCK TEAL-  that you can simply add with a blouse or scarf.   In this week’s webisode, Stylist & Image Consultant, Hannah Hilburn and I give your our Top 5 Faves for Fall.

WATCH WEBISODE:

A FEW EXTRAS:

Everyone looks stunning in TEAL.   Get a beautiful blouse or scarf for an instant REGAL look- feel like a QUEEN!

Now this color is a bit tricky- MUSTARD YELLOW.  It’s the hottest color this Fall, but unfortunately- it doesn’t suit everyones skintone!  Make sure it’s vivid- not pale and muted.  Pair it with brown, khaki, metallic bronze or wine colors.


REMINDERS:

Win a super cute outfit from OTOMIX ACTIVEWEAR valued at $120.  Click here for details.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  I know we have all been directly or indirectly effected by this disease.  Thoughts and prayers go out to our Mothers, Daughters, Sisters, Aunts, Girlfriends and Co-workers.  Please remember your routine self exams!  *********************************************************************

“DON’T PLAY SMALL! STAND UP! TAKE CHARGE! You are doing yourself & others a disservice by catering your actions towards how you THINK others will react. When you are simply being yourself you will ATTRACT everything that is in alignment with who YOU truly are. You will be shocked to see who drops away. Their absence will leave a space for NEW & AMAZING relationships to enter your life. Just be YOU & let everyone else do what they may. You will be rewarded for your COURAGE”. – Jackson Kiddard

Sharing the beauty, style + inspiration,

Tiff