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

Breast Cancer Awareness Photoshoot

I had the pleasure of spending a warm September afternoon photographing a strong, and beautiful breast-cancer survivor. Our photoshoot together was filled with laughter, warmth, and happiness. We weren’t just celebrating her triumph, we were celebrating her journey.

I arrived at her beautiful country house in the early afternoon. She wasn’t ready for me yet as she was preparing an early dinner for her husband and family who were all farming. Without batting an eyelash she had me set up with space to do her makeup, a glass of water & snack, she quickly showered, and managed to not burn her dinner. This is a woman who is in control and doesn’t let things slow her down. Including cancer. While she had no control over how her body responded to treatments or if she would ever recover, which she told me was one of the scariest parts of breast cancer for her – she did have control over her attitude. She tried to carry on as normal as possible during her treatments, and kept a healthy and vibrant sense of humour. You can read about her journey here, where she writes a blog post in her own words, reminding us all that laughter is, in fact, the best medicine.

After a quick makeup session that had her dancing in every mirror in her house, we set off around her farm and the country side to photograph her victory! Here are the results of a very memorable afternoon with this remarkable woman.

Colour Of The Year – And What To Wear It With – Fall/Winter 2015

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You’ve probably heard about the colour of the year for 2015 – the amazing, deep shade combination of brown/red/brick – marsala. I have to say, this is my favourite colour of the year for the last few years, and I love the combination of the colours this year. If you haven’t seen the colours yet, check them out here and then get going on all your fall and winter shopping inspired by this gorgeous colour of the year!

 

Hot Looks This Season 

Of course the dawn of fall is all about boots, jackets, scarves, and hats, but there are a few other hot items to focus on this season. With the items you invest in, look for texture to refresh your outfits. There is also a lot of geometric influence this season, so with your shoes look for stacked and block heels, square purses, and chunky accessories. Fall is also a time of layering, so keep an eye out for scarves and wool felted hats to complete your outfit.

 

What Pieces To Invest In

One of the best ways to incorporate a new colour into your wardrobe is with hints of it in accessories like scarves, hats, gloves, and jewelry. However, marsala is such a fantastic neutral that I think you can go all out with this colour – even head to toe in some cases! So for fall, my first suggestion is the perfect coat. I’ve found this textured beauty for an amazing price. Another way to wear this colour is with new boots. I’m always on the hunt for new leather boots, and here is a great pair of booties to put into your wardrobe. It’s definitely okay to wear as much marsala as you want this season, since it’s such a flattering colour and easy to wear with different colours. I also love this printed top, even paired with this skirt, and of course, this amazing lingerie set from Claudette. And while you’re at it, go all out and pick yourself up this nail colour and this eyeshadow palette.

 

What To Wear With Marsala

One of the many things that I love about the Pantone colour of the year reveal is that they also supply you with an array of other colours that are popular this season. Many of these colours can be worn with Marsala, but I will also share a few of my own ideas. As I said earlier, I think Marsala is an amazing neutral. So much so, that I think it would be great to pair it with something cheery, say this super soft pink sweater, or keep it classic fall tones with items in burnt orange, eggplant, and these ochre wide-leg trousers. For my own style, I might keep it a little dark and pair a marsala sweater with a black vegan leather skirt, or mix up my neutral palette with a pair of grey culottes. Pretty much anything goes with marsala, and I am very excited to incorporate this colour into my fall and winter wardrobe!

 

 

Fall/15 Trend: Bedford Avenue Granny

I’ve always grown up with the notion that patterns and textures were distinctly not to be mixed. A pattern is paired with a solid, am I right? Well, this season, that’s definitely the wrong approach. The Bedford Avenue Granny trend is all about mixing patterns, colours, and textures to create a completely unique and interesting look. Yes, you can go raid your stylish grandma’s closet, but please take out any unnecessary shoulder pads first. It’s a little Iris Apfel (toned down, of course), a lot of grandma’s vintage clothes, but with a high fashion, chic and intentional look.

Key Pieces In Which To Invest

If you want to take on this eclectic look, these are the pieces you will want to have in your closet this fall:

The Perfect Jacket – And by perfect, I mean long, printed, and/or textured. Keep in mind, your nana would have worn something structured, so stay away from ponchos if you want to perfect this trend. Capes, however, are most definitely allowed.

Skirts Galore – Your grandma probably had an array of perfect skirts, and so should you! A real sub-theme in this trend is 1960’s influence, so feel free to embrace the many styles of the era. Think simple a-line, pleated, and floral. And of course, tartan!

The Blouse(s) – Yes, you will want many blouses tucked into that adorable skirt you plan to wear. Again, a floral print, a paisley print, and a bow blouse are necessities. However, you could go with any variety of cute prints. And of course, tartan!

Jewels upon jewels – Necklaces, earrings, rings, and bracelets are your best friends. Layer them on, and make sure they all make a statement!

 

How To Style

The key to styling this trend will be to make sure your prints and patterns are different scales, and that they are in scale with your body. Try not to pair too many large prints together, especially if you’re quite petite. Here are some ideas to help you style yourself this fall.

Casual – As this trend doesn’t “scream” casual, you will want to pair a cute, casual sweater with printed pants. Add on your variety of accessories and you’re ready to go!

Office – You might want to tone down the craziness for the office, but pairing two chic prints together will still make a statement. Pair a floral blouse with a slight tartan print skirt or pant, and you’re office ready. Top it off with earrings and and skip the rest of the accessories.

Cold Weather – This is where your new amazing coat comes in. Your coat will cover up the majority of your outfit, so this might be a good time to show off your eclectic style with printed tights, textured gloves, scarves, and a fun bag.

Going Out – This is an excellent opportunity to pull out that little a-line skirt and pair with a cute printed top and, yet again, layer up the accessories. In cold weather, again add tights, and even some printed socks. Put on some fun coloured lipstick in purple, pink, or coral shades, and be sure to have your nails done as well! Grab a snakeskin, fur, or printed clutch and head out on the town.

 

This trend is so easily uniquely styled, and can be so fun to create different eclectic outfits. Keep in mind if you book portrait photography, don’t wear too many prints or the photo will lose focus of your beautiful self. However, with street style you can use this trend to express your different, eclectic, and unique style in so many ways. I hope you have a ton of fun with this exciting fall trend!

 

Fall/15 Trend: 1970’s

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This spring we saw an incredible 1970’s influence in the fashion world, especially with bohemian festival wear. This fall we will see a continuance in the 1970’s trend, but a bit more chic and tailored than the summer trend. Think earth-toned outfits of mixed patterns and textures, suede boots and jackets, and chunky statement accessories. There will still be an influx of floral garments, but a contrast of geometric patterns and blunt lines will also be popular.

 

Key Pieces to Invest In

For the fall, these are the pieces you will want to have in your closet:

  • Bell-Bottom Jeans These will be a great casual staple this fall and winter. Get a pair in dark denim to keep it sleek, and faded blue denim for a more relaxed look, or have some fun with earthy-coloured denim. You may have the urge to raid your mother’s closet for these, but there will be many amazing options in store as well!
  • Chunky Platforms – Really any sort of platform will do here, or an alternative would be a stacked, sturdy heel. I suggest a clunky version of the penny-loafer, a knee-high suede boot, or an ankle boot.
  • Long textured jacket Fur is in again! There are so many great faux-fur or vintage fur options. Another textured option would be patchwork, tweed, or suede.
  • Wide-Leg Flared Trouser A wide leg trouser is the perfect piece for just about any woman. They lengthen legs and create a longer silhouette, and are great for the office. Any neutral colour will do here, and a herringbone or tweed weave would perfect these trousers even more.
  • Chunky Accessories – Look for necklaces with big geometric beads, blunt and square handbags, and geometric bangles and earrings will be great accent pieces.

 

How To Style

Styling your fall outfits doesn’t have to be hard, just stick to neutral, earthy tones with statement accessories and you will be fine. It will be easy to go overboard with the ’70’s inspiration, so be sure to pair your outfits with modern garments to keep your style up to date.

Casual – This is the perfect time to break out those faded bell-bottom jeans. Pair with your favourite t-shirt and converse shoes to keep the retro vibe. No need for accessories here!

Office – Pair a wide-leg trouser with a matching vest and a light-coloured flowy blouse. Keep the accessories light, but feel free to pair with those great penny-loafer platforms to keep you looking sleek.

Cold Weather – This is where the amazing duster coat comes in! Pair your jacket with knee-high boots, a suede skirt and turtleneck to keep warm. Don a wide-brimmed felt hat and chunky necklace and you’re good to go.

Going Out – Any sort of retro style micro-mini dress will work here, but bell sleeves will be a great thing to look for in a dress. Stack up those bangles, load on the necklaces, and add in some earrings. Candy-coloured eyeshadow with a bold cat eye and a neutral lip will be the perfect makeup for your evening, and any platform shoe will make an incredible outfit.

 

The 1970’s fall trend is going to be an easy one to style and incredibly fun to wear. Be sure to invest in classic pieces that will last to keep your peace and love lasting through the years. And if you dig the ’70’s as much as I do, book a 1970’s themed photoshoot with your photographer!