In addition to a new look with the website, I also have a new look! I started volunteering with Imerman Angels after my Stage IV diagnosis in 2008. Imerman Angels provides an incredible mentoring for folks at any age, any stage, any kind of cancer. I’ve been matched with several women who are also young and Stage IV. Those connections have been incredible and life changing. Those connections are also a cruel reminder of this disease as I’ve watched two of my “mentees” succumb to metastatic breast cancer.
Back around Thanksgiving I was contacted by Imerman Angels about having a makeover done (hmmm, maybe I should take a hint?!) Celebrity stylist, Eric Himel, graciously offered his services and connections for a makeover. Since my job as a Professional Cancer Patient doesn’t offer a “holiday party” to attend, we decided the makeover would be for New Year’s Eve! I became his project and most recent challenge. (Note, I’m not a typical girl. I don’t really enjoy shopping, I find it overwhelming, especially trying to fit my new body.)
After a Skype consultation with Eric, I went to Chicago to go shopping with him. I was nervous meeting him, I only knew his snarky TV persona from the reality show “Giuliana and Bill.” I was afraid he would deem me a hopeless cause, but he was kind and excited to get to work. Here is a quick picture before we started.
Jonny Imerman of Imerman Angels, me, Stylist Eric Himel
Living in the cornfields of Illinois, there isn’t an opportunity, or need, to go shopping with a stylist, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. Eric led me back to a dressing room at Ann Taylor on the Magnificent Mile. He had created many outfits complete with accessories and shoes and had everything waiting for me to try on. He said, “Do you mind if I stay in the room with you?” I quickly replied, “Do you realize how many doctors have seen me undress? You realize I don’t have breasts, right? I’m totally fine with you being here.” He laughed and started handing me clothes to try on.
The second outfit I tried on was the one. It is a black tank with fringe all down the front. A white and black patterned fitted pant. Crystal clear chandelier earrings. Five inch tall black platform heels. And to top it all off, a new coat as comfortable and warm as a pair of Ugg boots. He had me try on a few more outfits, but we kept going back to the one.
Now that the outfit was picked, it was time to hit the salon for my hair makeover. I met with colorist Robert Bennett and hair stylist Josie Nevarez at Maxine Salon. Robert dyed my hair just a tad darker then added a few Balayage highlights to give it more depth. (PS-I didn’t know what Balayage is either, it’s a fancy word for painting individual highlights into the hair rather than using foil strips.) After the color was complete, Josie started cutting. Keep in mind, I have a short pixie cut and my hair is thinning from this chemo, so Josie didn’t have much to work with. After discussing ideas, we decided on a style similar to Ginnifer Goodwin. The combined rich color and slightly edgy cut went along perfectly with the outfit!
On New Year’s Eve morning, I headed back to Chicago where I was able to my friend Erica Strama for lunch at Joe’s. We decided since it was NYE, we would have a glass of champagne to celebrate. After catching up, chatting about life and eating, I headed to Exhale Spa where Eric arranged for a massage. After a little bubbly and a massage I’m lucky I wasn’t completely mush and was able to make it to the make-up appointment.
I met make-up artist Juli Valdez. She was a magician, I’ll spare you the “before” pictures! Right as Juli finished, photographer Barry Brecheisen arrived. He has photographed some of the biggest names in music for Rolling Stone, Chicago Now, and Lumino Magazine. Thankfully he was graciously kind in snapping a few pictures and editing them to make me look like a rock star! After my transformation, I jumped back in my car and headed to a party at a friend’s house in Champaign.
It truly was a legendary experience and fabulous end to the year!
Today, however, I’m back to being a Professional Cancer Patient. I met with my oncologist and had my quint-chemo cocktail. It’s another two weeks of chemo, a two week break, then time for another scan at the end of the month.
Thank you for all the kind comments, thoughtful emails, and countless prayers. I’m thrilled to experience 2013!