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It was a dreary, cold January day when I received a phone call from my friend, Georgette. Her neighbor had just gone through her first chemo treatment for Lymphoma earlier that week and was not handling it well. Her doctors had advised her of what those forthcoming days would be like, but no one ever fully prepared her. Cindy needed someone; a friend who’d been where she was now.

And I certainly had been there. Originally diagnosed in early 2006, I was treated with chemo and in remission for six months before “Fred,” as I had named my cancer, came back. I then had further chemo and an autologous stem cell transplant in 2007. This time I was in remission for a year. When it came back in 2008 I had chemo followed by an alogeneic stem cell transplant at Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston.

Sure, I was experienced, (not the sort of thing one really cares to be experienced at), but I didn’t realize how important my practical knowledge was until I started rattling off a list of things for Georgette to pick up from the store. With a few exceptions (you can’t exactly run to CVS for barf bags) most were easily store bought items, but ones that I could not have done without. Suddenly it became very important for some else to have these items. “Don’t come back until you’ve got everything on the list”, I told her half jokingly. I even texted additional items while she was running around.

I was working on my Master’s Degree in education. I wanted to teach but I wanted to teach kids, and here I was, teaching a young mom how to alleviate dry mouth, get rid of “chemo smell” and keep a journal of her treatment, symptoms, and side effects because if there was one thing I learned through my treatments, it’s that chemo has a pattern and the sooner you learn your chemo’s pattern, the sooner you can take back some control of your life.

I was in remission for 2 1/2 years. During this time Georgette approached me with the idea of starting a business. “ Friends and family want to help when you’re going through a difficult time”, she explained, “and while fruit and flowers are nice, what you brought to Cindy is what a patient really needs.” It took I lot of convincing (truthfully I thought she was nuts, we were both teachers, what did we know about running a business) but using her desire to help people and my experience with a wide assortment of treatments and chemo’s, we created Liz’s Chemo Survival Kits. www.LizsChemoKits.com. It’s so practical, that aside from the more than a dozen items we’ve included, even the tote bag is washable. What I’m most proud of is “Liz’s Chemo Survival Log.” It’s a simple way to keep track of your treatments, symptoms, and all the questions your health care professional will ask you each time you see them.

As it turns out my cancer has returned yet again, and I’ve been in treatment for the past three months – and just got a clean bill of health! Looking at it from the practical side of things, I used this as an opportunity to test out and review new chemo alleviation techniques.

~ Liz

Top five things…

Top five things a chemo girl can do when first diagnosed:

Understand your diagnosis
Locate a navigator
Coordinate with a surgeon
Coordinate with an oncologist
Review and understand your treatment plan

We spoke with Patient Navigator Nurse Betty this past Sunday on the Beauty Pearls For Chemo Girls Radio show! Tune in to the podcast here!

Pear Mousse recipe from Ruth Fehr

To listen to our Radio Show from 2/13 click here!

To learn more about Ruth Fehr, visit http://www.thepalettefund.org/

Pear Mousse
Serves 4

2 cups unfiltered apple juice or pear juice
2 teaspoons agar agar
2 ripe pears
1 cinnamon stick
3 tablespoons roasted almond butter

1. Place the apple juice in a pot. Add the agar agar. Set it sit for about 15 minutes to allow the agar agar to dissolve.

2. In the meantime, peel the pears and core them. Cut the into chunks. Add them to the pot together with the cinnamon stick. Bring it to a gentle boil, then bring it down to simmer. Let it cook for about 30 minutes till the pears are soft and the agar agar has dissolved completely. To check if agar agar is dissolved stir it with a wooden spoon, nothing gets attached to the spoon. Remove the cinnamon stick.

3. Let it cool at room temperature for about 15 minutes. Then place it in the refrigerator to set. About 30 minutes.

4. Once set, puree it using a blender. Add the almond butter. Puree it once again till it has a mouse consistency. You may add a bit of maple syrup if it is not sweet enough.

5. Serve it in nice tall glasses and top it with berries. Can dust a bit of dark chocolate.

On the air with Dr. Jo Ann Weinrib

Tranquil Healing boosts your immune system, sharpens your mind, relieves aches and pains and reconnects your body to the positive energy inside. On yesterday’s show we spoke with integrative healer Dr. Jo Ann Weinrib on how chemo girls can find that spot of quiet calm to strengthen your mind and body as you work your way towards wellness.

Click here to listen to the podcast!

On air this Sunday 1/30 with Kathy Delaney-Smith

Athletes often visualize themselves overcoming enormous odds to beat back opponents. Listen to Beauty Pearls for Chemo Girls this Sunday to learn how the Harvard
University Women’s Basketball Coach, Kathy Delaney-Smith, used her Act As If techniques to not only inspire her team, but triumph over her own cancer!

On air Sunday 1/16 with Ruth Fehr

If you really are what you eat, then it’s crucial that chemo girls be well nourished, hydrated and make food choices that will help them stay energetic and strong during treatment.

Join us on Sunday as holistic nutritional counselor Ruth Fehr of The Palette Fund gives us a detailed list of what to buy, what to eat, and how to make whatever you’re eating taste delicious.

To learn more about Ruth, click here!

Tune into our Radio show this Sunday 12/26

As the excitement of Christmas settles into the quiet of winter, many chemo girls and their supporters may find themselves wondering how to keep the faith and hope and spirit of the season alive in their hearts throughout the year. Join Marybeth, Debbie and their guests Rabbi Brian Leiken and Pastor Jeff Borkoski as they discuss how the joy and spirit of the season can continue to shine no matter what sickness may bring.

Visit this link, and click on “LISTEN LIVE” or tune into your local station

Gift-giving time — On air with BP4CG

It’s gift-giving time of year, and many chemo girls may find themselves wondering what to ask for when friends and relatives wonder what they would like to receive – leaving those who want to make a difference and show they care very few clues about how to make their holiday present truly special.

That’s why Marybeth and Debbie asked skin consultant and philanthropist Krista Olsen Dibsie and Fashion stylist and interior designer Francine DeMarco to join us on the air Sunday December 19 to discuss all the fun, interesting, necessary and pleasing gifts chemo girls will enjoy.

So download the podcast and get great ideas, important insight and specific suggestions on what you can do or buy for both the patient and her family — then make your list, check it twice and make your present especially nice!

Let’s talk about your skin! – Written by Sue Perez

Skin reactions to drug therapies are very common. Let’s talk about some of the best ingredients and some things you can do to improve your skins texture and make it feel less dry…

Exfoliation using manual/ physical products like face scrubs, also, some cleansers now contain ingredients like salicylic acid or jojoba/almond spherical beads to gently rid the surface of these dead unwanted skin cells. As we age,  skin takes longer to renew. New cell turnover happen every 28 days in your 20’s to every 48 – 60 days in your 40’s  and 50’s. You can help shed those cells so you improve the skins natural cell turnover rate just by exfoliating!

TIP- use a warm wet, washcloth…GENTLY, out of the shower.

Moisturize, Hydrate, Brighten, Protect! The basic function of moisturizers is to prevent water loss but there’s a difference between moisturizers and ointments. Ointments act more as a barrier and protect the skin from the elements, but they do little to hydrate. Look for high performance ingredients and delivery systems, these creams may cost more, but are more effective.

Look for High Performance ingredients like Grapeseed and Green Tea extracts, Vitamins A, C, E, Hylauronic Acid, Zinc Oxide and Aloe Leaf extract. TIP-use moisturizer on damp or wet skin. Water acts as a conduit to help the treatment absorb more deeply. You also use less!

DID YOU KNOW Grapeseed extract is a natural brightener and excellent to lighten pigmentation of the skin. Green Tea is a powerful anti oxidant that protects against cellular damage. Vitamins are preservatives but in higher end treatments have higher percentages and cellular metabolism benefits. Zinc Oxide is a highly effective sunscreen and vital in preventing future sun damage to the skin.

Aloe is calming and reduces inflammation in the skin and Hylauronic acid binds 1000 X its weight in water making this an important result oriented ingredient to look for.

Photosensitivity You may have reactions to your skin when you take certain doses of a particular medication combined with sun exposure, IE: Retin-A, Acutane. In most cases it takes anywhere between 5-20 hours for you to see a sunburn or in some cases blistering, peeling swelling. TIP– If you were able to tan previous to Chemo, that does not mean you won’t have a reaction to exposure, wear sunscreen (spf 30) and definitely avoid the Tanning Salons.

Serums Nolonger aspecialty product serums are used to increase radiance and improve the appearance of the skin quickly. OTC brands may sell for as little as  $21.99, but the ingrediants are not nearly high performance. delivery system to ensure direct and complete delivery of vitamin C, resulting in the highest levels of collagen and minimizing the appearance of wrinkles, fine lines AND discoloration. Stay-C 50, a multi-functional vitamin C derivative found in Cellular Laboratories De-Aging C Serum, supports the normal production of collagen and elastin both necessary for soft, uniform and luminous skin.. And who doesn’t want that at every age?

Get a monthly facial!- Drug store brands do not have the same high performance ingredients as some spa brands and are nothing like what professional licensed Estheticians’ use. Just make sure that you check with your oncologist or doctor to make sure you don’t have any contraindications. Facials move Lymph and help the skin detox and look radiant! I especially enjoy treating my clients who have acne with soothing and calming facials and treat the skin gently before and after extractions. Next month I will be updating Beauty Lines with some great spas in New York for services.

You can join my mailing lists for great deals happening locally in the NY Metro Area for spa, salon and makeup events at www.sueperez.com

Sue Perez

BP4CG On the Air – 12/12/10

With holiday parties now in full swing, it’s hard to make it across the room without finding someone holding a camera or video recorder, ready to document and preserve the fun on film or tape.

But if you’re going through chemotherapy, instead of smiling and saying cheese, you may see a camera and want to hide. It’s not easy to be festive and confident when you’re dealing with drastic changes to the way you look and feel, so we thought the best thing we could do for our sisters in need is to give them some expert advice to help them face the camera and the world with grace and style.

Listen to fashion designers Christine DeAngelo and Henry Picado, and Esthetician and makeup artist Sue Perez give chemo girls some great advice on what to wear, how to accessorize and how to care for your skin and face so that you can be your own personal best no matter what side effects chemo is creating.

Click here to listen to the podcast!