I Can’t “Make” this Up…Pun Intended

Here I am yet again writing an emotion filled blog but this helps me to get everything out. Yesterday, I had the privilege of visiting with my sister friend Wycilia.  She lives about four hours from me and we haven’t seen each other in two years.  She was visiting a city an hour away and she had never met my youngest daughter. I gathered up my girls and we went to see her and do what many women like to do: eat and shop!!
Now, I’ve never been one to wear makeup on an everyday basis and when I would wear it, it was usually muted or natural/neutral tones. I was a firm believer that makeup should enhance your beauty but not make you look like a totally different person.
When I was diagnosed with cancer and learned that I would have to go through chemotherapy, I knew that I would be losing my hair. At the time, I wore my natural hair and I was very proud of my thick, curly mane. I hated that my hair would fall out but my attitude was that I valued my life more than my hair.  I had never worn a wig before and I didn’t know how I would feel about being completely bald.  I knew right then that I would probably want to wear makeup with my wig.
While going through my chemotherapy treatments, I learned of a program sponsored by the American Cancer Society called “Look Good, Feel Better.”  You see, before going to this class, I had never been taught how to properly apply makeup. I had previously learned by watching others. I felt good about my gloss mascara and shadow.  I could match my foundation with no problem but I knew nothing about blending, highlighting or the correct use for concealer.  In this program, women that are battling cancer are taught how to do small things that would enhance their beauty.  Some of the tips were ways to wear a scarf so that you could cover medi-port, tying a scarf around your balding head and then lastly, applying makeup.  Sometimes when going through therapy, because of all the side effects, your face may look pale or flushed and the person leading the class provided step by step details on applying your make-up. People expect that you when you tell them you have Cancer that you may lose your hair, but what they don’t realize it that this could also mean losing all your hair, including eyelashes and eyebrows which is exactly what happened to me.
I was so excited to go to this class for two reasons; one being that I would receive over $200.00 in free make-up and two because I would finally learn some tricks in applying my makeup correctly.   So, I went to the class and I loved it.  There were only about 3 other women in the class, all who had been recently diagnosed with cancer so we had no idea how our appearances would change. I had just recently started losing my hair but at the time of the class, I still had my eyebrows and lashes. The purpose of the class was to help build the confidence of the attendees even though we were going through a life changing illness.
After attending this class, I became a little more confident in my makeup skills.  It became a renewed interest for me.  I began watching make-up tutorials online, following celebrity and other big name makeup artists on social networks and also reading reviews about different products.  I begin investing in some of the products I had read about and watched others use on You-Tube.  I was so happy when I bought my first set of brushes.
I begin practicing different techniques and getting better and better; and although I am not a certified makeup artist, nor do I aspire to be, I enjoy wearing my makeup from time to time. I like the way that it looks and I love the way that it makes me feel. Some people have misconceptions about women that wear makeup. Just because I wear makeup, it doesn’t mean that I don’t like myself or the features that God gave me. In fact, when I wear makeup, I love them even more.
So back to shopping with my friend—I picked up some lip colors that I wouldn’t have normally worn before all of this practice and all of the videos. I decided to step outside of my comfort zone since I was getting better with my application, blending and whatnot. So I was sitting at home and decided to play.  It started with just testing the lipstick.  I put it on and I loved it, so then I decided to put on a full face.  I was so proud of the way that it came out that I decided to try on my wig.  And then I did it.  I took some photos. Several photos and a wig change with more photos later, I had posted some images to my social media accounts. I loved the look so much that I decided to update my profile picture. I received many likes, compliments but along with that, there were also some subliminal “hate” posts.
The worst thing about it was that it came from other women.  So I am back at this question again, why are women so envious of each other? Why is it so hard for women to celebrate other women?  This has never been an issue for me.   If I see another woman and she is dressed nice or I like something that she is wearing, I’m going to tell her. I never understood this. It seems that everything in life has just become the great competition.  It is sad that we live in a society where people can’t celebrate each other earnestly without trying to be better.  There’s a quote that is floating around social media that says, “The only person that you should try to be better than is the person you were yesterday.”  And I think this is true.
If you are someone who doesn’t wear makeup, that’s great.  Don’t put down people that choose to wear make up. There are many reasons why people may wear makeup but probably the most basic is because, we like it!!

Rant Over.

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Finish Line

Today is the eve of my last Chemotherapy treatment and I couldn’t be more excited! As I sit back, I am reminded of so many things as I made it through this part of my journey. I will never forget the day that I  actually discovered my own lump (early detection is key!). Honestly, I wasn’t purposefully doing a self-exam, it was just discovered while showering. The same night, I remember crying hysterically because somehow I just knew it was breast cancer. I am notorious for experiencing symptoms, googling and then self-diagnosis. Unfortunately for me, this time, I was right. The next 10 days went by so fast and the next thing I know, I was headed to outpatient surgery for placement of  a medi-port. On the day of my diagnosis,  a decision was made that a positive attitude would only be accepted. I only allowed myself a few minutes to cry about it on that day. That doesnt mean that I didnt have my moments during the process but I didn’t want any pity parties and I wanted to be vocal about it. I decided to trust God and God’s word for a complete and miraculous healing and the only way for people to witness it would be if I talked about it and I showed them. Being transparent also held me accountable for my own  faith as well. I wasn’t sure of what to expect from the treatments. The doctor had prepared me for many side effects, most of which I was very blessed not to experience.  My first 4 rounds of treatment were the most aggressive. This mix of medicines included the infamous “red devil.” The side effects alone were enough to make me want to run and hide but it was only by the grace of God that I experienced minimal discomfort. Sixteen total rounds of Chemotherapy and I’m done. One thing that I’ve learned on this journey is to celebrate along the way. And this weekend, I’m going to celebrate. It’s no coincidence that my last Chemotherapy session is happening the same weekend as National Cancer Survivor’s Day.   This weekend will be one full of celebration and fun and I’m so grateful!

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In the event of my demise…Part 1

D-e-a-t-h. When combined, they are the five most powerful letters in the world. There is nothing that can save you from it. What is ironic is  that death is accepted as a fact of “life.” It is what compelled me to write today.

Today, death has claimed the life of someone that I didn’t know. I’m sure you’re saying, that happens everyday, all the time; but this time, it is different. This someone was my sister. My Pink sister. Even though I never met her, we were  the same. Both plagued with this fear that “today” would somehow come sooner for us than it would have under normal circumstances.  Our worst fear came true for her today; A 37- year old mother of two beautiful little girls died today.  Two little girls that will have to experience life without their mother. And no one will be able to tell them why.

Years ago, I used to be so obsessed with just the thought of death. I wasted time, a lot of time thinking about what things would be like after I died. My fascination was the very moment of death. I wanted to know how it felt. Would I know that I was dying, is it going to be  painful? What happens after I die, am I going to be reincarnated and come back to live another life?  So many questions but no answers. To be continued…

My Pink Haven

The following is information that I have included in my flyer informing people about my online breast cancer support group, “My Pink Haven.”
As one can imagine, being diagnosed with breast cancer was the worst day of my life. I, like many others, looked at my diagnosis as a death sentence. However, I was determined that I was not going to leave my babies. They needed their mommy.
I’ve met some wonderful women on my journey. Being diagnosed with Breast Cancer at the age of 35 was one of the most mentally challenging things that I have ever had to go through. I was prepared for the worst but I am so thankful for my journey. It was important to maintain a positive outlook. This was why I was inspired to start an online support group. More specifically, I wanted to connect women in the state of South Carolina, so that if they ever desired to meet, it would be feasible.  With the group being online, it allows women to participate from the comfort of their own homes. I want to encourage other women and to give them a place where they felt comfortable. It’s not always easy to talk to our friends and family about what’s going on with us. Many times, they don’t understand. Other times, we may be too embarrassed to discuss certain things. This is why I was inspired to start My Pink Haven.
My Pink Haven is exactly as the name suggests. It is a place where women from all over South Carolina whom are battling breast cancer can go for encouragement, advice and support from other cancer fighters and survivors. My Pink Haven provides a platform for women to share without the fear of being judged. It’s also a place where they are free to post questions, concerns and praise reports, etc.  All member information (profile names, posts) is confidential and should not be discussed outside of the online forum.

Steps to join My Pink Haven:
1. Send a inbox request to join to my personal FB account “Grace Favor Mercy”
—– OR—–
2. Send an email request to mypinkhavenmph@gmail.com

Inspired-Writing vs. Friendship

This morning, I feel inspired. I am inspired to write, to share, and to express creatively this moment in time. At this moment, life has revealed another lesson that causes me to reflect on “the point of it all.”   Writing has always been therapeutic and cathartic for me. It allows me to really be myself; flawed and all. I don’t have to edit myself for fear of intimidating or offending.   I don’t have to wonder or even care, for that matter, how it makes anyone feel once it’s out there.  It allows me to be myself; uncensored and unconcerned.  I don’t need validation. No one has to love my writing, because it’s only for me. I have the choice to share it or to keep it to myself. I can share fragments or the entire body of work. Friendship is similar to writing; or at least in theory the concept of friendship is somewhat similar. You see, when you are blessed to have a true friend, you may feel the same way as well.  Think of your closest friend.  There is a commonality in the theme amongst those that say they are the best of friends.  Friendship is a “no judgment” zone.  This is one of the reasons that you (friends) may be so close.  You can confide in your friend and not worry about if they think you are weird or crazy and they will still love you the same.  You have an option to share every moment in your life, past or present, good, bad or indifferent.  Genuine friendship is like a blank sheet of paper. You put the pen to paper and just let it flow; and it flows out beautifully and naturally. The best part about it is the feeling of complete euphoria once you begin to write; much like confiding in your closest friend. You don’t have to worry if you spelled a word incorrectly, if the sentences make sense, if you used the correct grammar. You can write as much or as little as you like.

Consequently though, all of those great attributes about the liberty of writing and friendship is the same thing that sets the two apart. In the process of writing, there’s this thing called editing. Is editing really necessary?  Editing is censorship. It is also elective. One would be wise to edit their writing if they are planning to share.  Writing to share must be manipulated and formulated so that it suits a certain purpose.  Writing to share also has to be manipulated so that it meets certain expectations of your targeted audience. Here is the gray area. Some people treat friendships like a piece of writing that is going to be shared. You cannot manipulate your friends so that they suit your purpose. “That’s not how it works. That’s not how any of this works.”  So it leaves the question, does friendship really come with all of these great amenities?  Is their liberty in friendship?  Is friendship really a “no judgment zone?” My opinion is definitive. NO.  There is no such thing. For all the reasons that were mentioned above; you see because even in the confidence of your closest friend, you have to still be “considerate.” Before you are even allowed to truly be “yourself,” you have to take their feelings, experiences and emotions into consideration. Editing yourself is not elective in your friendship, contrary to popular belief. It is imperative if you value it. It sounds nice and flowery to say or think that you don’t have to but the reality is that when dealing with people, ultimately, self-preservation wins.  This means that no matter how close you think you are with someone, if there is a line drawn between you and them, they will always pick themselves.  You will always pick yourself. This is why editing is essential in preserving the relationship between friends. You cannot maintain a friendship and be totally uncensored.  It is just not possible.

I’d like to hear your thoughts on this. Would you say that this is true or am I way off base?

Make Time or Lose Time–That Simple.

Today, I had a great epiphany. It occurred to me that maybe food addictions are real. Generally speaking, addictions are real. Sure there is scientific proof that you can be addicted to substances like drugs and such, so people that have those types of addictions, we never really question them; because we can scientifically validate them. But when the addiction comes in the form of other things such as sex, shopping, or something else, there’s not really much that we could use to support the theory that the addictions are not really as powerful as we give them credit.
Well, I realized today, maybe I just might have a food addiction. There is no particular food that I must have but certainly there are foods that I should definitely be avoiding. This is how I actually arrived at this conclusion. Here I am, battling breast cancer and I am still eating foods that I subconsciously know will negatively impact my health. It’s not that I mean to do it. I just want what I like. As a cancer patient going through chemotherapy, you learn that some things that you used to be able to eat, the body just doesn’t tolerate it at all anymore. For example, when I drink soda, it literally tastes like poison (if I had to imagine what poison tastes like). It literally burns my throat. One would think that this would deter me from drinking it or attempting to drink it. Not so! I wouldn’t necessarily say that I crave soda, but put given a choice of spring water or poison, I’m drinking the poison. I met with a dietician when I was first diagnosed. Let’s just say, I haven’t seen her again. I know exactly what foods to eat and what foods to avoid. It just so happens that everything that I need to avoid, I like. Go figure.

It seems to be a simple thing, but whether we want to believe it or not, our health is directly impacted by what we put in our bodies. This is no secret. People know this. It’s not a great discovery. Nothing that I am saying is new. Now, it’s just personal. It’s not enough that I have to deal with cancer, but I am not helping to improve my overall health by eating and drinking things that I know are “bad.” I am well aware that the foods that we eat now are genetically modified; they contain additives and some of the ingredients may cause these addictions. The hormones, the sugars, the artificial sweeteners, they are all detrimental, yet these are the things that we like. It’s been said that you should always check the labels. If there is something in there that you can’t pronounce, it’s bad for you, avoid it. Who has time to do that? Who has time to do meal preps/planning using only fresh fruits and veggies that don’t have a GMO label? Who has time to grow their own produce? Who has the money or resources to always buy fresh produce? Well, the answer is simple, make time or lose time. You decide.
So all of that to say, I will definitely have to be more purposeful when it comes to my addiction. I need more time. I have babies who need their mommy. Most people are of the persuasion that once something is written down, it’s official. You become accountable. So here I am, writing the vision, making it plain. I have to eat to live. I need more time.