What We Do When You’re Not Looking

Are you curious about what we do before you show up to your photoshoot? Wonder no more, I will show you!

1. We Set Up Our Tools

When you show up to your shoot we want to be ready to fly! Making you wait around while we paw through our makeup just wastes your time and ours. We hook up our airbrush machine, and familiarize ourselves with the makeup and tools we will be using with you before you arrive.

 

2. We Test Our Props For Safety

We would never risk injury to anyone so we are typically quite sure of the safety of props before even we test them, but anytime we are using something new we have to be sure. Here is an example of Veruschka testing out our oversized present before we allowed our guest to sit on it.

3. We Set Up Our Location

Whether this is dressing our bedroom set for boudoir, or planning an outdoor photo session, we make sure everything is set up so you can just step in and have your photos taken. If we are doing multiple sets during a shoot, you may get to see us in action setting up a secondary set.

 

4. We Test The Practicality Of Movements

Some poses, movements, and props seem like a good idea until you try them out. Sometimes our bodies don’t move the way we think they can, and other times things can happen that you didn’t anticipate. This is why we test our ides before we try them with you!

5. We Test Our Lighting

This serves two purposes. It helps us double check that all of our equipment is working – occasionally technical glitches occur and can set us back a few minutes. Anything we can do to mitigate this kind of disruption is critical. The other reason we test our lighting is that sometimes we want to do something a little outside of the box, doing a test run helps us get our lighting just right so we have less fiddling around to do when we’re working with you!

6. We Check Our Locations

This is important if we are shooting on location or outdoors as opposed to in our Edmonton studio. We scan the location of choice, scout out a quiet area, looking for any garbage or debris that could ruin a photo, and we map out the best paths that avoid dog doodoo.

7. Practice Posing

We like to plan as much of a shoot as we can, including posing. While a lot of posing is done naturally, as well as tried and true poses, occasionally we like to test poses ourselves. We might be checking the comfort-ability, the feasibility, or just the aesthetics of a particular pose.

 

 

 

Cheesecake Pin Up Photography

What is “cheesecake” pinup? The origins of the term cheese cake pin up are quite unknown. The best speculation goes back to a photograph taken of a girl whose dress was lifted slightly up her leg. The photo was taken by a photographer who worked for a magazine and the story claims that when the editor saw the photograph he proclaimed “why, this is better than cheesecake!”. While that is the best story I’ve heard pertaining to the origins of the coined phrase, there is some doubt worldwide. Some think it comes from the phrase “beefcake” but with a feminine twist, others think it’s because the poses are “cheesy”.

Whatever the truth is, this style of pinup photography can be identified as peek-a-boo pinup, where the subject is making exaggerated facial expressions as parts of her body (typically her legs and rump) are “accidentally” exposed giving the viewer an “innocent” peek.

Why You Need A Professional Headshot

Edmonton Photography

1. Helps You Nail Your Dream Job

Are you familiar with the age old adage “dress for the job you want”? Well, having a professional or corporate head shot is exactly the right step in having the job you want. Pretending that no one looks or cares about the photo you put on your LinkedIn profile is not going to help you. As someone with a Human Resources background I can guarantee you that potential employers are absolutely checking out your LinkedIn photograph. In fact, in this day and age recruiters are checking out all of your social media accounts that they can find. Perhaps that picture of you after an all night binger is hilarious, but it’s not going to make the best first impression.

Okay, so why does the image have to be professionally taken? You’ve got a decent camera on your phone, right? Sure, in fact I’ve seen some pretty decent self portraits done with phones but those pictures aren’t going to do you any favours in the corporate world. Reach for that CEO worthy headshot, get noticed, and then get that dream job!

2. Connect With Your Clientele

If you are a realtor or someone who works with clients, having a business photo is essential. People want to deal with other people, not companies. A professional headshot says so much about who you are, and it’s the first stepping stone to building lasting relationships with potential clientele.

3. You Will Use It Everywhere

Professional photographers know how to use lighting and posing to make you look your absolute best. You will find that you use your “business” photo for everything, regardless if it’s business related or otherwise. It will be the photo you use in your Christmas Newsletter to family, the photo that you put on all your social media accounts, and the photo that you send to grandma.

4. You Need An Accurate Representation

We all age, some of us put on weight, others lose it, and our hair changes color. Keeping up-to-date headshots for yourself provides an accurate representation of what you currently look like. This is ideal when job hunting, or just staying in touch with distant friends and family. It can be hard to go from that photo you took of yourself twenty years ago, to where you are now. People will notice a difference, some may even comment on it, but it’s necessary to represent yourself accurately.

5. It’s Fun

Getting professional head shots taken on your own time (not company time) is actually a very fun, and confidence boosting experience. You will find yourself laughing, and truly enjoying the experience of having your photos taken.

Newest Team Pink Member – Annie

Hair & Makeup Artist

We are so excited to welcome Annie to Team Pink! She is our extremely talented hairstylist and makeup artist. So if you’re getting a makeover before your photoshoot there is a good chance you will be making friends with this amazing woman.

With training in massage therapy and hairdressing, Annie is the perfect example of when creativity and passion collide. Her passion to help people feel confident is the driving force behind her creative aptitude. Every hairstyle and makeup application that she creates is done with the sole purpose of working with women to help them see their beauty inside and out.

When you book your shoot, go ahead and request Annie as your beauty guru.

What To Bring To Your Maternity Photoshoot

Maternity Photo with Name

Planning for an upcoming photoshoot can be exciting but also overwhelming. When you’re 34 weeks into your pregnancy, the last thing you need is to be stressing about what to bring for your photoshoot, so here is an easy to follow list to help ease your mind!

1. Wardrobe

Planning your wardrobe for any event tends to become an event in itself for most women. As if we needed another excuse to go shopping, right? However, in your final days of pregnancy, shopping may sound more daunting than enjoyable so raid your closet and look for your go-to maternity pieces. The clothes you’ve been wearing for the past 8 months reflect how you’ve been feeling, so wearing them in your maternity photos could be a nice homage to your experience, and it will eliminate the stress of looking for something new. For a detailed guide on choosing your wardrobe for your shoot be sure to read our article on what to wear for your shoot.

2. Baby Booties

Perhaps you’ve been given some beautiful hand-me-down baby shoes, or been gifted a new pair of baby booties by a family member, this is a great time to show them how much you appreciate the gift. Those tiny shoes make a beautiful prop, and they can also be a great way to reveal the gender to your loved ones. If you don’t know the gender of the baby but you like the idea of belly and boots photos, then get some gender neutral shoes – all shoes that small are beautiful and photograph well. These cute shoes can also bring some color into the picture to match your nursery. For example, if you’re having a boy and farming is a part of your life, John Deere baby cowboy boots would look oh-so adorable, and the green in the photo would look great on a wall print for your green nursery.

3. Letters For Baby

If you know the baby’s name in advance, bring some blocks or big letters to spell out the baby’s name. These “name” images look amazing hanging over the baby’s crib, and these tend to become a favorite for your child later in their life. If you purchase letter blocks, it becomes two-fold as they later become a toy for your child. Just make sure you get enough letters to spell your baby’s name, as the alphabet blocks tend only carry 1 of each letter A-Z.

4. Refreshments

Often your photographer will have some refreshments on hand, but if you have special dietary requirements it’s best to bring your own snacks and beverages as a precaution. If you show up to your session and your photographer has snacks that you can eat – go ahead and indulge! It’s better to be safe than sorry.

5. Undergarments

You will want to plan your undergarments as carefully as you plan your outerwear. Avoid any undergarments that fit a little too large or a little too small so that you don’t see any lines or added bulk in your photographs. If you can, bring in a strapless bra. At All Things Pink Photography, our number one request is our fabric flow photos – the key to these photos is good underwear! If you are doing a fabric flow shot, a strapless bra is your friend. If you don’t have a strapless bra, don’t panic – we’ve successfully tucked bra straps into the fabric before, but it is not ideal. Bringing two sets of underwear of different color is a nice precaution, as sometimes when you get under the hot studio lights we can see more than you bargained for, so a simple change in underwear color could make all the difference.

Regarding your bottoms, you can’t go wrong with a nude pantie. If you don’t have nude, bring in a light color and a dark color.

6. Accessories

Accessories include everything from your favorite jewelry pieces (earrings, necklace, bracelets, rings), to tights, and shoes. Long necklaces that reach the belly look gorgeous in maternity photos, but try to avoid any bulk pieces that might be distracting. If you’re unsure of what jewelry pieces to wear, bring them in and show your photographer. S/he should know what will look best in the photos. If you plan to show your bare belly, don’t wear tights or anything tight fitting around your waist for a few hours prior to your shoot to avoid lines on the stomach. If you want to wear tights with a dress, put them on after you do your bare belly photos.

7. Props

This includes anything not previously mentioned, but rather objects that might be important to you to have photographed. A stuffed teddy bear, or a family heir loom are both examples of props that clients have brought in to their sessions.

Prepping For Your Photoshoot: The 10 Commandments

Congratulations, your photo shoot is booked and you’re more than ready to be pampered and fawned over! Erin and her team are ready to help you look and feel your best, but there are a few things you should do to prepare for your fabulous photo shoot. I’ve compiled a list of essential commandments to follow prior to your shoot to help you put your best face forward. Plan an at home spa day, pour yourself a mimosa and let the prepping and pampering begin!

PLAN

Choose the outfits you want to wear for your photo shoot well in advance. Be sure your clothes are ironed or steamed and free of hair or lint. Peruse Pinterest for ideas of how you’d like your makeup and hair to look so you can communicate this to your artists. Pack your wardrobe, jewelry and items you’ll need for touch-ups the night before so you’re not running around the house the morning of your shoot. You shouldn’t need to bring much, Erin and her team are well equipped!

FACE

While you should always take good care of your skin, there’s no better time than prior to your photo shoot to step up your game. Try a hydrating mask the day before your shoot to add instant moisture and plumpness to the skin. While your mask goes to work, try applying cool cucumber slices to de-puff and perk-up tired under-eyes.

Be sure that your skin is cleansed and moisturized before you arrive at the studio. It’s a good idea to avoid testing out any unfamiliar products that could irritate the skin. If you’re keen on trying something new, be sure to patch test the product first on an area that won’t be visible during your photo shoot to ensure it won’t cause a reaction. Should a pesky pimple pop up at this inopportune moment, resist the urge to pop or pick. Spots are easily hidden with makeup and editing, scabs and wounds provide more of a challenge.

HANDS

Check out our previous post to learn how you can “nail” a DIY manicure at home! Your hands will likely be featured in your photo shoot and it’s crucial not to overlook them!

FEET

If you’re preparing for a boudoir photo shoot, there’s a pretty good chance your tootsies will make an appearance! A pedicure is a great idea, and polished toes are always sexy! If you don’t normally wear toenail polish, ensure that your nails are clean and trimmed, and your paws are scrubbed and moisturized. Apply a foot cream before you go to sleep the night before your photo shoot and wrap your feet in cozy socks. You’re sure to wake up the next morning with the softest soles!


SCRUB – GIVEAWAY! – Winner Selected Congrats Meriam!!

The skin on your face, hands and feet are getting some much needed pampering, and it’s important to give your bod special treatment too. There’s nothing sexy about dry, flaky skin, but the good news is, there’s a simple fix and we’re here to help you out! Even physical exfoliators like mitts and loofahs can work wonders for the skin. Take the time to scrub where you’ve never scrubbed before, paying special attention to knees, elbows and rough spots. Your skin will be soft, supple and glowing when it comes time to bare your limbs for the camera!

An exfoliator that I love is the Fresh Cocoa Body Exfoliant (it smells amazing!!). Before you head out to buy one though, enter to WIN our GIVEAWAY for a chance to get your hands on this exfoliator (pictured above)! All you have to do is leave a comment on this blog post! You can double your chances of winning by liking our Facebook Page and leaving a comment on the Giveaway announcement post on our Facebook Page! Contest closes February 20, 2017 – so be sure to check back here for our winner announcement! Shipping within Canada only (full contest rules).


SHAVE

Now is the time to remove unwanted hair. Shave, wax, tweeze, Nair – there are many options at your disposal. Be sure you think about all of the places you don’t want hair to show in your photographs. I’m not going to tell you what these places should be, your personal preferences are fine with us at All Things Pink – just be sure to remove the hair a day or two prior to your shoot to give any irritation a chance to calm down before the big day.

HYDRATE

In every sense of the word, this should be at the top of your list. Moisturize your face, body, hands and feet. Drink LOTS of water prior to your shoot and during – we’ll always have it on hand for you at ATP.

STRETCH

Erin knows how to pose you so you’ll look your best in your photos- and these poses may take some maneuvering! It’s in your best interest to limber up prior to your shoot to avoid soreness the next day. If you’re stumped on stretches, try this 20 minute morning yoga routine to loosen up stiff joints, it’s a perfect practice for all levels!

FUEL

Eat something! Don’t skip breakfast prior to your shoot- you’ll look better in your photos if you’re nourished and alert. Keep your energy levels up throughout the day by packing a granola or protein bar – just beware of chocolate smudges on clothing and in your teeth!

AVOID AGGRESSORS

Unfortunate as it may seem, some of our favourite things can actually make us look worse. Salty foods can cause water retention, caffeine has diuretic affects and can dehydrate the skin and cause redness. Alcohol has similar undesirable effects. It’s best to avoid these types of food and drink the day of and the day prior to your shoot to ensure you look and feel your very best!

Bear in mind that these tips and tricks are just that – ideas to help your photo shoot go as smoothly as possible, and be as enjoyable as possible! Though following all 10 commandments will surely yield the best results, even following just a few can make a huge impact. Choose the tips that are right for you and your routine, and let us take care of the rest. Your photo shoot with All Things Pink Photography is sure to be an unforgettable experience no matter what!

 

A Pin-Up Picnic

We are going Pinup CRAZY here at All Things Pink Photography. Our most recent shoot took place at our studio in Edmonton, and like all of our pinup shoots, it was a super fun day! This dress is part of our closet collection and can be used for your photoshoot!

5 Reasons You Need A Photoshoot

Pinup

It always amazes me how in 2015 women seem to struggle more and more with self-esteem and body issues. How many times a day are your thoughts consumed with weight issues, skin problems, ill-proportioned body parts, or hair malfunctions? We are all guilty of beating ourselves up for “not taking better care” of ourselves. You may think a photoshoot is the last thing you want, at least until your skin clears up, you lose some weight…etc. However, it’s the experience of the photoshoot, not necessarily the photos themselves, that have the power to make you believe in yourself and feel truly magnificent.

We all have days where we don’t feel like going out. However, with a good hair day and killer makeup we feel like we can take over the world. This is my number 5 reason why you need to have a photoshoot.

5. You get a complete makeover 

The makeover is where most of the magic happens. You will find yourself opening up to the makeup artist about your passions, insecurities, hopes and dreams. Having someone to listen to you can make even the most cynical person feel better. You will learn new features of your hair, face, and body that you didn’t know you had – that will have the wardrobe, makeup and hair person fawning all over. I have a friend that still boasts about the time the makeup artist said she had enviable eye lids. The makeover is such a boost to your self-esteem that you will walk away from the experience feeling powerful.

4. You get pampered like a princess

There is very little you actually need to do for a photoshoot. Over half the battle is showing up! At the studio your coat is hung up, you’re fed and given a choice of beverages, and you’re plopped down for the makeover. If you’re cold you get a blanket and a heater, if you’re warm you get a cool beverage, a fan or air conditioning. We have actually hand fanned someone that was feeling warm. You will see a team of people working very hard to ensure you are comfortable. Which brings me to the third reason why you need to have a photoshoot.

3. It’s all about you

For three hours you get to see how supermodels live their glamorous lives. Everything is taken care of for you, and you alone. Your hair will be maintained for you, your wardrobe will be fitted and adjusted, your makeup touched up, and your body posed. Everything that is being done around you is all for you. You will feel important because to the photography team, you are important. You are a celebrity.

2. You will feel truly beautiful

I always smile when people come to me with their fears about having their picture taken because I know something they don’t – they are so beautiful and they are about to see that for themselves. There is a true connection that happens through every step of the photo process. You will open up to the makeup artist and finish up feeling glamorous. You will put on your wardrobe and stare at yourself in the mirror with self acceptance and maybe even self love. When you are in front of the camera, for a split second you will feel yourself cowering, and then you will remember that you look amazing. You will connect with the photographer because she understands your insecurities. With the entire process moving foward you will feel truly beautiful.

1. You will find your confidence

The entire experience of the photoshoot is such a confidence booster. Women will call me hours after their photoshoot to tell me how much they needed that experience. It’s not just the outward appearance of the makeover and good lighting that will make you feel good, it’s the connections, and friendships that form from all wanting to see you succeed and be your best self. Any time you need a confidence boost or just a reminder that you are someone to be reckoned with, book a photoshoot. The photos that come later are just a reminder of the powerful experience you had at the studio with the women who understood you.

The overall experience of a photoshoot is not only esteem boosting it’s an absolute blast. You will have so much fun being a princess for a few hours that you will want to do it again and again!

Halloween Costume Tips

The Dress

The inspiration for this Halloween Costume was the Red Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland with a geisha inspired twist. Originally we had wanted a beautiful Chinese dress for the complete look, however, we chose to do the Red Queen costume on a budget instead. The Chinese dress is still a beautiful idea with this geisha inspired makeup – which you can do yourself with this tutorial.

  1. All you will need to achieve this look, is a plain red dress and some red and black tulle.
  2. Sue already had several red dresses in her personal closet, we chose a dress that only cost her $20. The dress came to her mid-thigh so that we had room to pin the tulle.
  3. With the dress on, we safety pinned the red and black tulle to the bottom seam of her dress. We were careful to flip the seam up side down in order to hide as much of the pin as possible. We left a gap in the tulle in the front of her dress to show off Sue’s gorgeous legs. You could be as creative as you would like with pinning the tulle. You could have a slit on the side, rather than the front, or bunch the tulle up for a poofier appearance…etc.
  4. From a deck of cards, we chose 2 cards to stick to the front of the dress to completely hide the safety pins holding the tulle to the dress. Using double sided tape (fashion tape) we bonded the cards to the dress effortlessly. The double sided tape should not ruin the fabric of your dress when you remove the cards later that evening, and it should provide enough hold to last you throughout the entire evening.

The Accessories

The accessories for this costume are where we spent most of our money. The jewelry was purchased from Forever 21, the crown was purchased from Value Village, and we made the card fan ourselves with a free deck of cards and chopsticks.

  1. Our goal was to create a beautiful Red Queen costume for as little money as possible, which meant we were limited with the jewelry pieces that we could purchase. However, we managed to find a beautiful bold necklace that was regal enough for a queen. The hands were decorated from knuckles to tips with rings of varying styles and sizes. You could be very creative with the jewelry regardless of your budget.
  2.  The card fan was made in five minutes by hand. Using a deck of cards that we got for free (free because it was not a full deck of cards – but that didn’t matter for this project) we took out all of the heart cards and hot-glued them to broken chop sticks. The chop sticks were also glued together with another chopstick that was against the cards.

 


The Dress

A costume for Captain Hook is probably one of the most easily accessible costumes you can do for Halloween, but it’s also a costume you can get very creative with. Most of this costume came from the Halloween section at Value Village. The add-on’s were an underbust corset, a scarf we used as a belt, and a tiered skirt. All of these items are easily found this time of year, and many costume shops carry some wickedly amazing pirate outfits.

The Accessories

The accessories for this costume are key. If you want a pirate costume that is Captain Hook influenced, a red coat and a hook are a must. However, its the little touches that take a cool costume to a great one.

  1. The hook came in the Captain Hook pirate costume set at Value Village. It was actually a very nice looking hook, not a terribly obviously cheap plastic one that you often see kicking around. The problem with the hook is keeping it on your hand for most of the night. You could use double sided tape and stick the hook to your sleeve to ensure it stays on all night, however, it might be nice to be able to remove the hook if you actually want to make use of your hand underneath.
  2. A very key accessory to any pirate costume is the jewelry. If your neck isn’t being weighed down with jewels, chains and pearls, you’re not doing it right! We made sure Kassy had her share of jewelry, but since we were glamming up Captain Hook we decided pearls were the perfect accessory. She also painted her fingernails black and had some oversize jewels on her fingers.
  3. Black hair tends to accompany the most notorious pirates, so to cover Kassys normally platinum locks we fitted her with a beautiful black bob wig.

 


The Dress

The inspiration for this years Halloween Photoshoots was to glam out famous villains. Ursula’s face is so recognizable because of the intense makeup she sports so we couldn’t really tone down the makeup without losing her essence. So we glammed out her costume and hair.

  1. To achieve this look we purchased a full length, black gown. We made sure the dress was strapless and that the bodice somewhat resembled Ursula’s tentacle dress.
  2. The dress we chose was layered with chiffon and as a result created a look and a feel of floating as if on water whenever Alyssa moved.

The Accessories

  1. Ursula’s hair is a bit crazy and hardly glamorous. I understand that her hair points straight up because she’s in water, and that’s what our locks tend to do when in water. However, glamorous Ursula needed something a little more chic. Keeping in line with the platinum locks and short hair, Alyssa donned a fabulous platinum bob. In order to remove the crazy shine that comes on synthetic wigs we doused the wig in Dove Dry Shampoo.
  2. Ursula wears a nautilus shell around her neck, however, it was a very difficult task finding such a shell on a chain. Instead we opted for an octopus necklace as a subtle reminder of who we were dealing with.

 


The Dress

Cruella De Vil is the ultimate glamorous villain. Her heavily contoured face and razor sharp cheekbones however, made her slightly less chic and a little more on the scary side. The plan for our Cruella De Vil was to stay on the glamorous chic side.

  1. For this look you will need a plain black dress and a fur coat (obviously). We are pro faux fur, however, if you must get real fur please use vintage. The fur coat we used is obviously not a Dalmatian print (that would have been ideal) but we used what we had. Cruella’s coat is usually portrayed as being white but I think any fur coat will do as long as you have the hair and the cigarette you will be recognizable.
  2. The dress we used was actually a slip. Since the dress is usually hidden underneath the fur coat we didn’t see a reason to go all out on a fancy dress.

The Accessories

  1. The main accessory for the Cruella look is obviously the cigarette. The cigarette holder we used in the photo was purchased from etsy. It is a functioning cigarette holder – the toy ones tend to look like a toy, and Cruella doesn’t play around – so the real thing was needed for this shoot. However, if you’re a non smoker, I suggest sticking with the plastic costume cigarette holder as it will be far more affordable.
  2. The jewelry we aimed to keep as sophisticated as possible. A single strand of pearls around her neck showcased Cruella’s sophisticated taste without being over done. The pearl bracelet is attached to a diamond ring with a diamond and pearl centerpiece. Any sparkling rings will work for this costume.
  3. Cruella’s hair is perhaps her most identifying feature. However, because we wanted to glam our girl Cruella we opted for a platinum wig with black hair woven throughout. Although it’s not as recognizable as the split white and black hair, we definitely think this wig was a nice modern and chic update.

Pink Champagne

The following is the story of a heroic, brave, and inspiring woman who battled breast cancer. Every woman has her own story of how breast cancer has affected their lives, here is hers. You can see the pictures from her photoshoot here.

 

Pink Champagne

By the time this post is up, I will be celebrating my 2 year cancerversary (a term coined by survivor Hollye Jacobs).  Yay! Let’s drink pink champagne!

My chemo and radiation treatments ended in October 2013, and so did using the “cancer card” whenever I wanted to get my way.  Using the cancer card was a technique I would “occasionally” utilize to guilt my family into getting my way. The classic phrase that stems from me having cancer is this one: “Can you get that for me?  I have cancer.”  Yeah… all manipulative triumphs come to an end and thankfully so has my treatment. My cancer adventure endured through some 15 months of treatment and included 2 surgeries, 6 rounds of chemo cocktails, 30 radiation treatments and 6 months of bizarre reactions to hormone therapy.  And I drank no champagne during the adventure either. Sigh.

In all honesty, my cancer adventure would have been unbearable had it not been for my neediness to lighten things up, laugh, enjoy copious amounts of Starbucks CDL and whine about our ridiculous health care system in this country and province.  Not allowing myself to wallow in self pity gave my family license to laugh with me, make fun of me and, ultimately, gave us all the strength to take on the gravity of this horrible disease.  My positivity and sense of humor helped me journey through circumstances that were beyond my control. Oh, and when I say sense of humour, it doesn’t mean that I am funny, witty or quick with a comeback.  Quite the contrary, but I always looked for the funny side of things, and my family members who are funny, often had me in stitches.  Thank-you family.

THE DIAGNOSIS

After turning 50, I began treating myself to an annual mammogram.  Gotta love menopause!  For 4 years, my results always came back clear and I expected nothing less as I didn’t have any of the typical risk factors in my life. That fall, as I expected, my results came back clear and I was sailing into November and a lovely autumn…my favorite season.  A few weeks later, I noticed the lump when I was adjusting “the girls” to strike the upward salute yoga pose in my bra (versus downward dog, the place they naturally were drawn to go).  I knew that lump wasn’t there the day before, and now suddenly there it was.  I had just had a clear mammogram weeks before, it couldn’t be cancerous.

Fast forward 10 days later, I finally see my doctor as the damn lump was still there.  I was so hoping it would disappear, but that gut feeling deep down inside told me it just wasn’t going anywhere.  It was a whirlwind after that.  Another mammo, ultra sounds, bone scans, more biopsies and needles galore impinging my precious booby. Then the unforgettable call from the doctor, “I am afraid I have bad news, you have breast cancer. Blah, blah, blah, blah.”  I never heard another word after he said the c word, “cancer”. I was scared to pieces; a co-worker had recently passed away from breast cancer. However, my husband and I cried for all of 5 minutes and then we determined to kick this shit to the curb.  We must celebrate our strength!  After a glass of pink champagne of course.  My husband drinks whisky.  No bubbly for him.  More for me.

I learned that one should never have cancer in December.  There apparently isn’t a doctor who treats cancer in our city, province, or country who works from December 15 through to January 15th.  I guess that’s because cancer doesn’t grow at Christmas time. Seven weeks after my diagnosis, I am finally in surgery for a lumpectomy. It didn’t go well. Three weeks later, I had to do it all again, as they didn’t get clear margins. Lumpectomy to chunkectomy. My original diagnosis was stage 2.  Waiting 7 weeks for surgery with an angry tumor growing like a Kardashian tweet, catapulted my cancer to a stage 3B now with lymph node invasion.

How did I get cancer anyway?  Every patient asks that question, wanting to assign blame somewhere.  My cancer began manifesting, according to my cold and unfeeling oncologist, more than 10 years prior to being diagnosed.  She said contributing factors to my cancer were likely stress and bad luck.  WTF – bad luck? I had none of the risk factors (genetic, environmental, etc.) and considered myself relatively healthy. Other than the occasional indulgence of pink champagne, plain champagne, champagne with hibiscus flower, champagne mimosas, Kir Royale, Prosecco and my addiction to Starbucks, I had no bad habits.  Cancer was so not on my radar. And neither was bad luck.

 

THE TREATMENT

I lost my hair, my finger nails, toe nails, sense of taste and really missed my eyelashes and eyebrows.  We (my family) celebrated the hair loss with a buzz cut party! My cousin (hairdresser) was on the phone guiding the process! After it’s buzzed off, you have to “bic” it she said.  Bic razor. Oh yeah.  We all played with the wigs and joked that my future son-in-law and I had the best bald heads in town.  There was no more pink champagne in my life during this part of the adventure. I became addicted to bubbly Perrier water instead!

As my treatment progressed, I wanted to distract my mind away from the challenges of chemo and focus on something important.  Renovating our basement! The timing to get reaaaally nice stuff was NOW.  I may have abused the “cancer card” just a little during this time, but hey, I now have Swarovski drawer pulls and door knobs in my bathroom.

Life returns. The fear subsides. My hair grew back, albeit slow, dark and curly!

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MY SUPPORT SYSTEM

I had the most incredible support in my family.  My mother came from 1000 kilometers away to wait on me hand and foot.  Besides my family, I had friends, neighbours, and congregations of people I didn’t even know, call me, write to me, and send me cards and prayers.

My step daughter ( a nurse), actually moved in across the hall from my bedroom and literally got up in the middle of the night to ensure I took my meds and to check my totally attractive drains and tubes and other oozy things coming out of my booby – things that don’t seem to faze nurses or step daughters.  My other step daughter is also a nurse, who at the time chose to do an intern round at the Cancer Institute to help me in my adventure.  I received great care from them, but not so much from our health care system.  Lesson learned – be your own advocate, don’t ever back down.

Cancer is a long adventure and it was vital that I had my husband, children, step children, sons in-laws, parents and siblings as my adventure companions.  They made me laugh, they made me puke bucket kits, made me meals, made me drinks (Perrier & lattes), made me addicted to Downton Abbey and Scandal (thank-you by the way), made fun of me and made me so proud they are a part of my life.

 

THE TAKEAWAY

People often ask what did I learn or take away from this experience.  First, I say that a positive outlook and a sense of humour do not curb or cure cancer, but it certainly empowered and distracted me from ever dabbling toward a pity party.  Misery is an option.  Cancer doesn’t make you what you are, but it will reveal who you are.

Second, I take nothing for granted, and I have stopped obsessing and complaining about all the little stuff.  It doesn’t matter if my kitchen is vacuumed today – although it would be nice if I had new cupboards in it, and maybe a sparkly bar fridge for champagne at just the right temperature!  I am grateful on a daily basis.  Not perfect, but grateful. My outlook continues to be positive, my spiritual life continues to grow and my focus on healthy living continues to improve.  I am not running marathons, climbing mountains and travelling to Bali to see if there is healthier food there.  Although I would love to go back to France and this time visit the Champagne region. I imagine they have really healthy champagne there with mountains for me to climb to get to it.

Really, what matters more now than ever, is spending time with my beloved family and treasured friends. To love well and fully, leaving God to do the heavy lifting.

I used to be particular about how things looked – from my house to my wardrobe to my yard to my weight.  Now, I am obsessed with spending time with my family.  I used to put job, house work and yard work ahead of everything, not as much now.  Things still get done, but after I re-charge and spend time with family.  I still wish my house were cleaner, my yard with fewer weeds, and that I had the body of Jane Fonda, however, those are fun wishes, not toxic obsessions.  I am enjoying loving the first of, hopefully, many grandchildren to come.  Our new grandson has brought me much laughter and a sense of hopefulness…life goes on.

There is a reason I have been given the gift of waking up today and it is the gift to share and celebrate life and love.  Until the last breath I take, I pray I will always see the positives in life and love – and enjoy toasting them with a perfectly sparkly glass of pink champagne!

-Cheryl Lovich