Feeling Beautiful

I have a much different definition of beauty now, after surviving breast cancer, chemotherapy, and a failed breast reconstruction attempt, than I did before my breast cancer diagnosis.

Before my diagnosis, I loved my long hair, and so did my oldest son, Ethan. Ironically, I had been growing my hair out to donate it to cancer patients so it was getting rather long. I’m happy to say that I was still able to donate my hair. But I was worried about how Ethan would deal with the loss of my hair, so prior to my first chemo appointment, I talked to a child psychologist. I mean, how do you explain cancer and chemo to a five year old? The child psychologist advised me to be honest with Ethan and explain to him that I am sick but I will be ok but the medicine I have to take will make my hair fall out. And she suggested that we make a party out of shaving my head. We invited friends and family over and my mom began cutting my hair. Poor Ethan! He cried and yelled, “Mommy’s not beautiful anymore!” My mom kept assuring him that I was still beautiful and always would be. My husband, Brian, also shaved his head and we asked Ethan if he wanted to shave his too, but he declined. He said his hair was too pretty to cut off! He does have nice hair, but I learned quickly that it is not the hair that makes a person beautiful.

One of the worse parts of chemo for me was the bone pain. My bones hurt so bad that I couldn’t sleep at night. To find some relief, I would soak in the bath tub. Brian would sit into the bathroom with me, in the soft glow of a night light. It would have been so romantic if I wasn’t bald, boobless, and bloated. I certainly didn’t feel beautiful, but to Brian, I was his beautiful wife.
Jamie and brian

When a woman has a bilateral mastectomy like I did, the next step is often reconstruction. For me, surviving breast cancer wasn’t as difficult as surviving a failed reconstruction attempt. Infection set in and I started having blood pressure issues. I was transported to a bigger hospital in Chicago in the middle of the night and things were touch and go for a while. My doctors told me I could try a reconstruction again after six months, but after all I had gone through, I decided reconstruction wasn’t for me. And Brian didn’t want me to have it done either. I decided I need to embrace the chest I have. Scars can be beautiful. I asked a friend who is a body artist to paint on my chest and I posed for topless pictures featuring my scars and her art. I nervously took a chance and posted these pictures on social media during October, breast cancer awareness month. The feedback was overwhelming. I was surprised at the number of people who praised my courage and called my photograph beautiful.

body paint

After my breast cancer diagnosis, I spent a lot of time reading and researching about all the chemicals that are in commonly used items, such as cleaning supplies, personal hygiene items, and food. Scary stuff! We are unaware of what is in the products we buy and we are unaware of safer alternatives. So I threw away EVERYTHING in my house that contained chemicals, and immediately stopped using deodorant and other skin products. While I was detoxifying my body, I didn’t know what alternatives there were to commercial health and beauty products. One day, my mom took me aside and told me that I stunk, literally! And on top of that, my face was an oily, acne mess. Was it possible, I thought, to be beautiful and chemical-free? I turned my research efforts to finding healthy, chemical-free alternatives that were as effective as the commercially made ones. I then began making my own chemical-free, aluminum-free, paraben-free deodorant and tweaking the recipe until I settled on a product that worked. This was really the start of what would become my business, Spero-Hope, LLC.


Please remember that this post is the opinion of the author and should not be replaced for actual medical advice or attention.  Please learn more before making lifestyle changes yourself.  Lacuna Loft supports healthy living, whether chemical-filled or chemical-free!  Find what works best for you!

These Boots Are Made For Kicking Cancer In The A$$

December 14 was my three year diagnos-aversary.

In 2012, I was 33 year years old and a stay-at-home mom with two small boys, ages 2 and 5. Life was good, until I found a lump in my breast. My first thought was, “Holy crap, this is breast cancer.” And my heart just stopped. It’s strange, but I knew immediately it was breast cancer. I guess it was just a gut feeling. My doctor wasn’t so sure. She told me not to worry because, she explained, since the lump was painful, it most likely wasn’t cancer but a cyst. Just to be on the safe side, she sent me to have an ultrasound.

The ultrasound revealed a mass but my doctor said it could be just fibroid adenoma. Again, to rule out cancer, my doctor scheduled a biopsy. For everyone else, the date 12-12-12 was a lucky day, but not for me. That was the day of my biopsy. I was told the results would be ready, two days later, on December 14. I woke up that morning and had my first ever panic attack. I told my husband, Brian, that he had to call in sick to work and stay home with me. He asked why and I told him because the doctor was going to tell me I have breast cancer. I was so freaked out that I called the doctor’s office three times and each time, they told me the biopsy results weren’t back yet. Then I got in my car and drove to the doctor’s office. They still didn’t have the results, but they did give me a prescription for Xanax to help with my anxiety. Finally, at three o’clock in the afternoon, I got the call I knew was coming and the official diagnosis of breast cancer.

blog pic 1

One year later, on December 14, 2013, I was adjusting to the new norm. I had 12 surgeries that first year, four rounds of chemotherapy, had my ovaries removed, and endured a painful and life-threatening reconstruction fail, but I was cancer-free. That’s when Brian gave me my first diagnos-aversary gift of a pair of shoes. He told me it was to celebrate how I kicked cancer’s butt. The next year, Brian bought me a pair of pink Uggs…another year I kicked cancer! This year, for my three-year diagnos-aversary, my husband got me a pair of Sorel boots. I look forward to many more pairs of shoes coming my way in the future as I continue to kick cancer to the curb!

blog pic 7

Welcome Jamie!

Lacuna Loft is excited to continue introducing some guest bloggers! These great folks represent a variety of perspectives on the myriad of topics covered here at Lacuna Loft. Before everyone starts really getting into the nitty-gritty of all they have to say, we wanted to introduce them a bit. Without further ado, here is Jamie!

Shortly before Christmas, 2012, Jamie Kastelic was diagnosed with breast cancer and had a double mastectomy as soon as the holidays were over. At the time, she was only 33, the wife of a state police officer, and mother to two young boys, ages 2 and 5. Over the next year, Jamie balanced chemo treatments with raising kids and endured a failed breast reconstruction that became life-threatening. She is now happily cancer free and committed to living a chemical free lifestyle. To this end, Jamie began making her own chemical-free, paraben-free, aluminum-free deodorants, body butters, shaving cream and other personal care items. Thanks to the support of her family, Jamie is now an entrepreneur!  She launched Spero-Hope, LLC in the summer of 2015 and now sells her all-natural personal care products across the country via her website, and in retail locations throughout the Midwest. What Jamie learned from her cancer survival experience is that opportunities sometimes come on the heels of tragedy.