TBT: The Cancer Series-Part 6 (The One Where Radiation Tries to Ruin the Valentine’s Day party)

Crunchy Parent- Alina's preschool valentine's party & my last week of radiation

If you want to read earlier posts from the Cancer Series or learn more about why I am posting these personal blog posts years later, you can do that here. This particular excerpt comes from the private blog that I maintained through MyLifeLine.org at the time surrounding my cancer diagnosis and treatment. It highlights the emotional and logistical struggles that I was moving through at the time as I tried to be present as a mom to my three young children while fighting cancer in my spare time.

This entry was originally published on February 16, 2011 following my 24th round of radiation.

Tomorrow (Thursday) will be my final day of radiation. It was supposed to be today but that whole blizzard snow thing a couple weeks ago pushed it back a day. I can’t say that it’s coming too soon. I’ve been exhausted once again this week. From what I understand the radiation, or at least the way they’re doing the radiation for me, builds up over time so that the largest doses of radiation are reserved for the end. I’d have to say that it feels that way. On Valentine’s Day, my beloved valentine put the kids to bed and took care of all of the other nighttime tasks while I crawled into bed at 7:00 pm and slept clear through to 6:00 the next morning. I still woke up feeling like someone had filled my body with sand.

Actually, Valentine’s Day was it’s own little comedy of errors, although in the end it was delightful. Alina had a party in her classroom at 10:30, which is of course not too compatible with my 10:15 radiation time. Knowing this, several weeks back I changed this one and only treatment to 9:30 so that I could make the party. I even anticipated the whole “Monday meet with doctor day thing” and asked about pushing my sit down with Dr. Radiation to Tuesday this week. Sadly no change could be made because she was not going to be in this Tuesday. She promised instead that we would make it a quick meeting. In truth, our check-ins usually are pretty quick, but last week she was running crazy late and I sat around waiting for almost an hour before they told me to just go home and try back the next day. I was a bit anxious tacking the appointment on to what was already going to be a day when I was tight on time.

Anyway, I got to the Cancer Center at 9:30 on Monday, only to be told that my radiation machine was down and was being repaired. Now, it’s not exactly my machine or I assure you that I would have already received the bill for seven million dollars, but radiation is a pretty exacting process. I do need to have my treatment done using the same machine every day. I also have five little permanent black tattoos scattered across my legs and a custom mold to navigate my lower half into on the radiation machine so that they can position my body in the absolute same way every time. There is no “close enough” when it comes to this whole radiation game, so when I heard that the machine was down, my heart sunk. It was not helped much when the tech said, “We thought for sure that they’d be ready by the time that you arrived, but we were wrong.” (evidently).

I hung out in my hospital gown for a bit and then the tech ran in and said that they were going to use a different machine. She said that it used different films but that the doctor had approved it, so I was good to go. I did not really feel good to go on the different machine with the different films (I want to do cancer just right, thank you very much). The Universe must have sensed my hesitation because as the tech was walking me to the different machine all the other techs started shouting, “No No No! He’s done. She can get on the other machine!” So the tech leads me back to my machine and I jump on. She starts to get me all positioned and another tech comes over the intercom and says that they haven’t calibrated the machine for the day yet so I need to jump off, and it will be about ten more minutes. I am crying inside. On any other day I could roll with this, but all I can think of right now is sweet, little Alina excited for her mama to come to her party, and I can’t get there because, cancer.

At this point the tech takes me to see Dr. Radiation so that I can at least get the appointment part out of the way while they ready the machine. As I’m waiting to be seen by her I borrow the phone (because I’m in a hospital gown this whole time with my phone locked up in the Women’s Changing Room). I make a quick call to school to relay the message to Alina’s teacher that I will be late, I just don’t know how late. I’m having visions of a very disappointed Alina when all of the parents file into the classroom and her mommy just isn’t there.

I meet with Dr. Radiation who is aware of my tight party schedule. I’m trying to figure out some way that I might be able to run over to the 10:30-12:30 party, drop Alina off at home with Rich and Asher after school, scoot back to radiation, and then back home to get the kids to hightail it back to school by Eva’s class party at 2pm. I really don’t think that there’s any way for me to make the pieces fit. Dr. Radiation suggests that if I can’t make it work they can just skip my treatment today and add another day on at the end of my run. I don’t even want to wrap my brain around moving this much-anticipated radiation finish line back another day, but it’s really a non-issue. I am scheduled to be done with my radiation treatments on Thursday and I already have my follow-up MRI and CT scan scheduled for Friday morning so that I can have the results in time to meet with my surgical oncologist next week (sigh).

Dr. Radiation gives me the once over. This is our last official weekly appointment. From here, we just cross our fingers and hope that it did what it was supposed to do. Dr. Radiation says that she wants to see me again 4-6 weeks post-op, and gives me a farewell hug. The tech scoops me up and runs me back to the machine while telling me that they have only done my “energies” on the machine but that at least it’s ready for me. I have no idea what the first part means, but I understand the “ready” part and so I hop on. They do what they do and I’m changed and running out to my car in a flash, which is no easy task because my leg really hurts these days. In all, I left the Cancer Center approximately five minutes earlier than I would have on any other day when I hadn’t moved my appointment up 45 minutes (best laid plans…).

The running was worth it. Despite my racing heart and knotted stomach, my sweet girl was sitting in a circle with her friends as the teacher ushered them through a singing game. I made it to school in time to see Alina skip around the circle of her peers as a little pink blur with her braided pigtails bouncing and her smile beaming as everyone sang “A Tisket, A Tasket.”

A Tisket, A Tasket.....Alina skips around the circle to put a valentine in a friend's basket

A Tisket, A Tasket…..Alina skips around the circle to deliver a valentine to a friend’s basket

After the song we ate fruit salad from the shared party goodies and some gluten free banana bread that I had baked and brought to the party to share. I got to spend time with her while she played outside, watching her run and seeing her smile framed by rosy, wind-kissed cheeks. We came home for a quick lunch, and then were back at school again to enjoy more fun and games at Eva’s party before returning home for the remainder of the day, which I can now scarcely remember due to the exhausted stupor.

Party #2 with Eva's class

Party #2 with Eva’s class

All things being equal, it was a pretty successful Valentine’s Day. Last year the girls and I spent the entirety of Valentine’s Day in bed. They were both home from school with whooping cough, and I was on week 19 of my bed rest stint with Asher’s pregnancy. They missed their class parties and valentines from friends, and I couldn’t have come to school for their parties even if they had been there. By comparison, this year was a step up, I guess. Next year I’m aiming for total health and well-being for us all, and maybe five conscious minutes with my husband to wish him a happy day too.

My sweet boy's first Valentine's Day outside the womb.

My sweet boy’s first Valentine’s Day outside the womb.

So in summary: Radiation=tired. Almost done. MRI and CT on Friday to see how things look following the radiation. Meet with my surgeon next Wed (the 23rd).

Anticipated needs for assistance in the near future: 1. if anyone is coming up this way from the St. Louis area and can bring a cooler of milk from our donor, that would save us a really long drive; 2. our school carpool partners are going to be out of the country for the first half of March, which will also encompass my surgery date. If any of our school friends wouldn’t mind dropping Eva off at our house at the end of the school day at any point from 3/1-3/15, that would be a big help to cut down on multiple trips to/from school. All the driving and coming and going with Asher and Alina in tow really saps my energy (see above) and also requires me to wake Asher up from his naps every day.

Thanks all!

So today’s video is a flash mob, because I have a bizarre fascination with them. I know that it’s a bit late on the notice, but if someone wants to organize the doctors, techs, and other patients at the Cancer Center to bust out into a flash mob tomorrow when I finish treatment, it might just make the whole five weeks worth it….After surgery, I’ll be tumor free. No cancer for me…….

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TBT: The Cancer Series-Part 5 (The one where I wean my baby)

If you want to read earlier posts from the Cancer Series or learn more about why I am posting these personal blog posts years later, you can do that here. This particular excerpt comes from the private blog that I maintained through MyLifeLine.org at the time surrounding my cancer diagnosis and treatment. It highlights the emotional and logistical struggles that I was moving through. I was trying to reconcile the attachment parenting choices that I wanted to make (i.e., exclusive breastfeeding and child-led weaning) with the gravity of the illness that I was facing, coupled with my intense desire to do everything in my power to increase the likelihood of the success of my cancer fight. It recounts my attempts to meet my infant son’s nutritional needs in a way that was healthy for both him and for me.

Although I did not know it at the time, in addition to Asher dealing with a mommy who had cancer, I was dealing with a child who had multiple food allergies and feeding delays (we still attend feeding therapy regularly four+ years later). This is our journey through weaning. I am posting it here to relay my experience and my story. It is not to be construed as medical advice, or any kind of advice for that matter.

This entry was originally published on February 9, 2011, approximately three weeks after I began my radiation treatments.

Let’s cut to the chase. I’m tired. Actually today is better than the past two days have been, which is why I have the energy to at least get to item #26 on my “to do” list for the day and post a little update. Undoubtedly, the fact that three weeks ago Eva was home sick the whole week, and two weeks ago Alina was home sick the whole week, and last week the Blizzard of the Century kept everyone home most of the week all contributed to my general exhaustion. I think there’s more to it than that. I’m not sure if the current fatigue is due to the radiation itself or to the need to get to radiation every day or both. I’m hoping that at least a big part of it is due to the need to get to radiation every day, and will thus be temporary.

I go to radiation every morning right after I put Asher down for his nap. This means that the time that used to be my least parentally-demanding portion of the day is now unavailable to get laundry, dishes, cleaning, cooking etc. done. Nevertheless, all of those things are just sitting around still waiting for my attention later in the day without regard to how tired I am feeling. This brings me back to the radiation itself. I do think that the actual radiation is making me tired too. The last two days I woke up wondering how soon it would be before I could get back into bed, and my limbs felt a bit too cumbersome to both lift and move. Bleh. But enough about the tired, let’s move on to the next thing.

Weaning. It’s been almost 48 hours since Asher last nursed. It makes me sad. He’s doing pretty well with it overall, but it makes me sad. And did I mention the sad? In a quiet moment, I took this video of me and Asher on my third day of radiation, when I knew that our days of nursing were numbered. Rich offered to take it for me, but I really wanted to just remember what it looked like to gaze down at Asher while he nursed to sleep. He always rubbed his hand back and forth across my stomach while nursing. I think that it was his comfort object. I guess that’s the best reason to have a soft mommy belly.

To clarify, according to several of the most respected breastfeeding authorities, it is believed to be safe to continue nursing through radiation. In fact, the only instance in which nursing is thought to be contraindicated with radiation is in the case of breast cancer. Even then it is believed to be okay to nurse on the side that is not receiving the radiation. Tuck that away as an interesting fact, because both the nurse at the radiation oncologist’s office and the La Leche League leader with whom I spoke told me otherwise. If I hadn’t challenged them based upon other research that I had done, both they and I would have continued to believe this incorrect information.

So, you ask, if it’s safe to breastfeed then why am I weaning? (Side note: Did you all know that Rich, Alina, and I were the “faces” of La Leche League’s national capital campaign in 2007? We were. Did you know that I have spent every day of the past 8+ years either pregnant or nursing or both? I have. Do you still wonder why I’m tired? I don’t.).

Jokes aside, breastfeeding is very important to me for many many reasons and has been a big part of my mothering relationship with each of my babies. I was not eager to wean Asher so soon. In fact, I have never weaned my children. I followed the girls’ lead on that, but by the same token it is very important to me that I do everything that I reasonably can to restore and maintain my good health so that I can mother my children until they are parents themselves.

I had the very strong feeling that I needed to stop nursing to allow my hormones to regulate. My body does not seem to respond well to the hormone fluctuations associated with pregnancy/nursing (menopause is going to be FUN!) I didn’t want to make this fight any harder on my body than necessary. I also wanted to conserve my body’s energy for healing rather than producing food. In addition, I was hoping that not nursing at night would allow for better sleep, because radiation is exhausting and my body needs the sleep time to repair from the damage done by the treatment. Most importantly though, was my desire to be able to really pursue cleansing and detoxifying my body following radiation, cancer killing, surgery, etc. I can’t detox while still nursing, or my body will dump the toxins into my milk, and then into my sweet boy, and that’s not a good option. So, here we are at weaning.

Now, this is an appropriate time to remind all that both of the girls are on gluten and dairy free diets as they seem sensitive to gluten and dairy. Asher too showed sensitivities to gluten, dairy, soy, and nuts through my milk, so I rarely ate any of those. This presented me with the challenge of what to feed him if my milk, and soy or dairy-based milk substitutes weren’t going to be an option, and he was heretofore exclusively breast fed. I tried him on some food (mushed avocado and applesauce). That was a disaster. He hated both, and clearly kept trying to figure out how to get the liquidy evil off of his tongue (he tried gagging, drooling, crying, etc.) He also got all rashy, and the whole thing was generally bad news.

My next step was to look into breast milk banks to see about acquiring alternative human milk for him (before you judge: just how well do you know the cows making milk for the local grocery store? I figure that at least we’re talking the same species here). Well, guess how much milk from a milk bank costs. Just guess…..Okay, so milk from a milk bank costs four dollars AN OUNCE. So after writing Alina a bill for three trillion dollars and talking with my insurance company who said that they would not cover the expense because Asher did not have a medical need (no, just the lady who MAKES the stuff), I looked into other resources. I found two, well, actually three.

1: Friends who know people who lactate 2: milkshare.com 3: Eats on Feets. The latter two are organizations designed to connect moms in need of donor milk with women willing to donate milk. Through these three channels I have been able to find four generous and kind women who have agreed to provide milk for Asher. They have also provided me with copies of their pertinent medical tests and patiently answered all of my many questions (there are questionnaires to guide moms through what to ask potential donors).

Now my freezers are stuffed with milk for Buddy, and we’ve been able to take on the weaning process. *FYI for those still concerned, we follow the recommended procedures for flash pasteurizing Asher’s donor milk to kill potentially harmful viruses or bacteria. This surely degrades some of the amazing health benefits of breast milk, but it seemed to be a reasonable and responsible compromise versus formula feeding. Check out this video if you too want to learn how to flash pasteurize for some such reason.

**Second FYI, no I can’t find donors who are gluten, dairy, and nut free AND other mothers do things like take medication or drink caffeine GAK! The loss of control has me reeling, but I’m trying to be very zen about it all. That said, Asher has developed a white coating with a big white spot on his perfect formerly-pink tongue since starting donor milk, any suggestions? (I don’t think it’s thrush by the way, but what do I know?).

Weaning has been a series of fits and starts (Ha! I so did not mean for that to be a pun, but I guess it is. Yuck. I don’t even like puns. Anyway, moving on). At first we started with night weaning and after a bunch of sad and screamy nights it seemed to be going pretty well. Then Asher got the cold that Eva and Alina had. That put the kibosh on the weaning and he was back to nursing at night.

He never really took a bottle, but we were able to get him to consider using a sippy cup. He was taking in about 6 oz. of donor milk each day, and nursing the rest of the time. Over the past few weeks we have worked his donor milk intake up to 25-30 oz. per day, although he was still nursing once or twice a night.

Last night, Rich and I finally got our acts together enough to flash pasteurize milk and set it on ice in our room in anticipation of Asher waking up. I warmed the milk in our sink and fed Asher that when he woke up at 2:30am rather than nursing him, and voila! Just like that it’s been almost two whole days since I’ve nursed.

I’m not ready for it. I knew that in a way I would probably never be totally ready to wean my last baby because it means closing a chapter on a very special and unique aspect of mothering. I really was not prepared for it to happen so soon or for this reason. That said, I feel confident in my decision. I know in my heart that if the adult Asher was talking to me right now he’d say, “Mom, I’ll be okay. Take care of yourself.” That doesn’t mean that I don’t still have tears streaming down my cheeks as I write this.

I will note though that it hasn’t been all bad. For 10.5 months Asher has almost always fallen asleep nursing. Whenever he is tired or hungry he makes a rather violent horizontal dive bomb for my chest to make his desires known. Since the weaning process has progressed, Asher has stopped diving to nurse when tired. He now cuddles his head against my shoulder, a move that he had previously reserved for Rich. Now, after I give him his sippy of milk before bed or naps, I stand up and hold him. He snuggles into me and I get to kiss his head and tell him how much I love him, before putting him down to sleep. It’s not the same as nursing him to sleep, but it is still loving and special, and I know that he feels cared for by his mom. I’ll take that.

That all got way longer than I’d planned. Sorry. According the MyLifeline.org, I’m supposed to try to end on an entertaining and uplifting note. Here, I like this. Enjoy.

-C

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As a final note, I cannot possibly post this without extending a very heartfelt thank you to the many mothers who fed my son when I could not. It was the greatest possible gift that we could have received at that time; making it easier to do something very difficult. I will never forget it.

I wanted to share this story that I came across today. It is from a mother who donated milk as a way to connect with, and honor the baby whom she lost (I do not know this woman, only her story). Donation is a beautiful and special gift from child-to-child and from mother-to-mother.

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TBT: The Cancer Series – Part 4 (the one with the Snowpocalypse)

If you want to read earlier posts from the Cancer Series or learn a bit more about why I’m posting these personal blog posts years later, you can do that here. This particular post takes place just prior to, and shortly following a storm that quickly became known as “The Snowpocalypse.” There was a lot of buzz and concern about the “storm of the century” that was headed our way. It turns out that the buzz was well-deserved. Parts of Northern Illinois were hit by a massive blizzard that dumped over twenty inches of snow in a matter of hours. Rush hour traffic from Chicago quite literally came to a standstill as cars were abandoned on major roadways or drivers spent the night in their vehicles. It was a storm unlikely to be repeated in my lifetime, and it took days for the cities and roadways to recover.

The girls "helping" me prepare to shovel the post-Snowpocalypse driveway.

The girls “helping” me prepare to shovel the post-Snowpocalypse driveway.

As someone going through cancer treatment at the time, the Snowpocalypse added another layer of fear and loss of control to my treatment plan. I continue to remember being afraid that I would have to miss out on one or more days of my radiation schedule and how that might impact my prognosis. After the initial storm, I was desperate to dig an exit route out of our driveway so that I could get to radiation if it resumed the next morning. Our snow blower had broken, and I was outside with the girls while Asher napped and Rich navigated conference calls from home. My leg was really hurting from the radiation and my shovel was barely making a dent in the massive piles, but I had to keep going. I was at it for about an hour when our new neighbor who I hadn’t even formally met and who had no idea of my cancer status, completed his driveway and brought his snowblower over to help me finish up with ours, even though it had started snowing again and was pretty brutal outside. It was an act of kindness that made a real impact for me during a true time of need. You just never know what battle someone else is fighting. Remembering that day has propelled me toward many acts of kindness since. I can only hope to lighten someone else’s load the way that he did for me.

A lot of snow standing between my car and the Cancer Center.

A lot of snow standing between my car and the Cancer Center.

This entry was originally published on Tuesday February 1, 2011 in the heart of The Snowpocalypse.

You might have heard that the Chicagoland area is expecting nine feet of snow within the next day or so. Consequently, you might be wondering how Corrie is going to get to radiation tomorrow (Rich hates when people speak of themselves in the third person, but I think that as it’s meant to be you having a thought about me, he’ll forgive me this time). Anyway, here’s the skinny on that one. Yesterday, when I had my weekly meeting with my doctor I asked her about the impending storm and what I should do come Wednesday in the event that the sky opens up and dumps a ton of snow. She assured me that they’d be there, adding that she might even spend the night at a friend’s home closer to the hospital since she herself lives far away. That said, I live 20 minutes away so I figured that it was worth asking anyway because even though they might be open, it doesn’t mean that I can get there. She said that it’s no big deal, they’d just tack on an extra day at the end of my run. As it turns out, it’s a good thing that I asked.

Driving to the Cancer Center this morning, I had my Grandma B.’s voice very loudly in my head. She would have called me today if she could have because she knows that the weather is bad and that I have treatment tomorrow. She would be very worried about me planning to drive in inclement weather. Frankly, she wouldn’t have liked me going this morning just knowing that bad weather was scheduled to begin six hours later. After she got off the phone with me, she would have called Mom and said the same thing. I miss her. It’s nice knowing that she would have woken up today thinking of me, and wanting to take care of me.

When I arrived at the Cancer Center you’d have thought that they were giving treatment away. The Cancer Center section of the parking garage was totally filled and I had to bring the minivan around to my valet boyfriend to park for me lest I be late. (Did I not mention that I have a valet boyfriend? Well I do. His name is Vlad. At least in my head it is. His name may actually be Jeff or Craig, but I have my doubts. Nevertheless, more on that another time). So, the place was packed and I figured that the predicted weather conditions were prompting people to come in early to receive their treatments. Sure enough, when I was done getting my radiation I asked about tomorrow and the tech said that there was now a 90% chance that they’d be closed, but I should expect an official call later today (no slumber party for Dr. Radiation, I guess).

When I got back to the women’s dressing room Stage 3 Endometrial Cancer (turns out that her name is Helen) and Lady with the Grumpy Attitude were there waiting. I broke the news to them that tomorrow looks like it’s going to be a bust. Lady with the Grumpy Attitude was really disappointed. Apparently tomorrow was supposed to be her last day of radiation. She’s really been looking forward to it. She actually wondered aloud if maybe they’d just let her do today and then be done. Helen and I surmised that Grumpy’s plan would not be well received. I figure that if the medical establishment gets mad at you for not completing a full course of antibiotics, they probably don’t want you flaking out on the end of your cancer treatments. I told Grumpy that we’d throw her a party on Thursday to celebrate her being done.

Grumpy and I kibbitzed a bit (Helen got called back for her turn after me). She told me that the last 10-14 days of radiation are pretty tough and that sleeping gets hard once the skin starts to blister. Hmmm, I’d kind of hoped to avoid the blistery skin thing. It sounds painful. She added that from that point until about two weeks after treatment ends I’ll be pretty tired and uncomfortable (this ain’t Grumpy’s first time at the rodeo. Maybe she’s not so grumpy after all, just really really tired).

I’m not looking forward to the prospect of painful blistery skin that keeps me up at night. I’m not sure how exactly to explain to three young kids that they can’t run or jump into me. Well, I know how to explain it, I just don’t know how to get them to actually remember, and Asher is always dancing/pushing off my lap. That’s sure to spell trouble. I have no idea what one wears in a blizzard when they have to keep fabric from irritating their blistery leg skin. Nine feet of snow is not yoga pants weather I’m afraid. I guess we’ll all know soon enough what those last couple weeks will look like. I’ll be there at the end of the week.

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TBT: The Cancer Series-Part 3 (the one where I talk about hair)

I sometimes wonder if I am being self-indulgent or living in the past when I post these excerpts from my personal cancer blog from early 2011. I may be, but I also think that although these experiences and feelings are in my past, they are very much present for others who might relate to my words. A longtime friend-through-a-friend whom I have known since college will be having surgery to remove cancer from her body tomorrow while her children wait at home wondering why mommies and daddies get cancer. I saw her recently and it was clear that so much of what I struggled with is washing over her. I hope that for her, and for anyone else who might be fighting against cancer right now, these words serve as some form of empathy and validation. Just keep moving through it. If you want to read parts one or two of the cancer series, please do. This will be here when you get back.

This entry was originally published on January 28, 2011; six weeks after receiving my diagnosis and about two weeks into my radiation treatments. It reflects in part on my gratitude for looking well despite being sick; this allowed me to protect the kids from some degree of my vulnerability. However, the mismatch between my outward appearance and my internal state also reminded me a bit of being in one’s first trimester of pregnancy; so much is going on, you may feel exhausted, sick, concerned and yet to the average passerby there is no hint of a deviation from normal, unless you tell…

Several people have commented lately that I’m looking great (thanks!) It makes me think of a t-shirt that I saw when looking for cancer advocacy clothes (I’ll show you the t-shirt that I settled on once I get a picture of me in it).

My mirror selfie in the women's changing room at the cancer center. It was Feb. 4, 2011; World Cancer Day. I wore my t-shirt as my battle armor before changing into my hospital gown for radiation.

My mirror selfie in the women’s changing room at the cancer center. It was Feb. 4, 2011; World Cancer Day. I wore my t-shirt as my battle armor before changing into my hospital gown for radiation.

Anyway, the shirt that I saw said something like, “Nobody told me I looked this good before I had cancer.” It took me a second to get the joke, but once I did I found it quite funny, and it’s true. I am hearing with much greater frequency that I look good. No complaints, I’ll take it thank you very much. I’m not sure though if the joke is that people say that you look good because they’re trying to make you feel better, or if they don’t know what to say, or if they are in fact surprised that you don’t look more “sick” given the gravity of what’s going on with your body. In my case though, there has been one recent significant adjustment that I imagine factors in to the observed change in my appearance as well.

When Eva was born, amidst all of the drama and stress and confusion my hospital bag was brought back home even though I had not been. I was stuck in the hospital for six days with a brand new baby, limited ability to move, tubes in my hands and plastic hospital bracelets all up my arms that kept scratching her new baby skin, and no ability to pull my hair up and out of the way because my hair elastics had been brought home in the bag. I remember thinking that my hair was such an annoyance and always in the way as I struggled to figure out how to mother this new little person from the confines of a small bed in a miniscule room tethered to machines seemingly everywhere (Interesting Fact: Rich hit his head 112 times on the TV suspended from the ceiling in that room). About fourteen minutes after we got home from the hospital I assumed my “mommy hairdo” of my hair pulled back off my face in either a ponytail or makeshift bun. For eight years I’ve pulled my hair back to keep busy little fingers from tugging at it or tiny faces from wiping their noses in it as they snuggled against my shoulder. Wearing my hair down became relegated to the extremely rare adult-only outing, so much so that Alina developed a unique Pavlovian response wherein she would burst into tears any time that she saw me take my hair down even briefly for fear that I was leaving her to go off somewhere.

When I go to radiation each morning, I tend to see the same group of women moving in and out of the women’s changing room. We smile and chat briefly. There’s Breast Cancer, Colon Cancer with Metastases to the Kidney, Stage 3 Endometrial Cancer, Round 2 of Chemo, Lady with the Pretty White Wig, Lady Who Won’t Wear a White Wig Because She Always Dyed Her Hair Dark, Lady with the Grumpy Attitude, etc. I can’t help but to notice that among them I am clearly Young Lady with the Baby as they are all between the ages of my mother and my grandmother. I can’t help but notice that I’m also The One With the Hair Who Doesn’t Need Chemo, as all but one of them comes to radiation sporting a wig or a hat to protect her against this windy cold weather and this evil disease. I hear them talk about chemo and the nausea and the debilitating pain and I am acutely grateful that at least for now that component of the cancer trifecta (radiation, chemo, surgery) is not part of my future. Truth be told, there is not really an effective chemotherapy for liposarcoma, which is why it has not been recommended as a part of my treatment. Regardless of the reason, I have been spared the physical and emotional pain of losing control of one more part of my life, and I have been allowed to keep my hair and at the same time allowed to remain healthy looking regardless of my cancer status. To my children their mom looks and is healthy, and for that and many other things I am thankful. So if you’ve seen me you may have noticed that after an eight-year hiatus I am once again wearing my hair down. It’s my very small tribute to the others who have needed to sacrifice so much more than I have to this illness, and it is my personal expression of gratitude that I still have my hair to enjoy, even though Asher has been wiping his nose in it all week.

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TBT: The Cancer Series-Part 2


Counse / Foter / CC BY

As I’ve mentioned before, this blog began in its original version back in 2007 when I was a crunchy parent trying to live a healthy and mindful life with my husband and two children. The blog got sidelined when we were faced with a series of health challenges that started in the summer of 2008. I kept thinking that life would settle down and I could return to my writing at CrunchyParent.com, but amidst the years of chaos we forgot to pay the annual web hosting fee. As a result, the blog content vanished. I had backed up some of my posts, but far from all. Those that I saved are on a computer that has been languishing in storage with the majority of our possessions while we have been living with my parents and house hunting these past nine months. I hope to retrieve and re-post some of what I had written in the past because I think that it provides context, perspective, and maybe even helpful information.

Until I am able to post some of the “greatest hits” from CrunchyParent.com of yesteryear, I wanted to periodically share some of what I had written on a private blog that I maintained through MyLifeLine.org, a free website service for individuals with cancer, back when I was going through my cancer treatment and early recovery. For more about why I’m revisiting my cancer treatment days and to read part 1 of The Cancer Series, take a look here.

The following entry was initially written on January 26, 2011 five weeks after I had received my diagnosis and almost two weeks into my radiation treatment.

Radiation warning sign

Radiation #9

I had my ninth session of radiation yesterday, which I only know because the nurse told me that, right before saying that I’m almost done! I’m not sure how 9 out of 25 equals almost done, but I appreciate her optimism.

I meet with the radiation oncologist once a week to discuss progress, symptoms and whatnot and yesterday was the day. It is supposed to be Mondays but she was not in on Monday so I guess Tuesday was the day this week. Before leaving for treatment in the morning, Rich asked me if I had any questions that I wanted to bring up when I saw the doctor, and I did….

Question #1: Lymphedema-what is my risk and what if anything can I do to minimize this? (See here if you want to know more about lymphedema. Don’t go to Wikipedia unless you want to lose sleep trying to remove the images from your brain).

Question #2: Radiation-why is nothing done to protect the rest of my body during the daily x-rays and radiation treatment? Haven’t they heard that radiation can cause cancer?

So here are the answers…secondary lymphedema can result from damage to the lymphatic system following radiation, removal of the lymph nodes, surgery etc. Although my lymph nodes have not been impacted by my cancer they may be compromised by radiation (scar tissue) and the whole lymphatic drainage system will be disrupted by the tumor removal. The surgeon should be able to comment more about the degree of the disruption. In any case, I am at a lifelong risk of developing lymphedema in my leg although the doctor suspects that it would be mild and hopefully transient. To prevent this I have to try to avoid overuse/underuse of the limb (e.g., standing for long periods of time, immobility during lengthy air travel, etc.); infection (cuts on my leg, pedicures at a salon), and injury (no sharp objects for the kids and a suit of armor for me). She also wrote me a prescription to be evaluated at the lymphedema clinic at the hospital to discuss anything else that I can do before or after treatment to reduce my risk.

Now for #2…I can’t help but notice that every day I walk into a room with a great big door that bears a rather threatening-looking sign saying, “CAUTION very high radiation area.” I recognize that the picture above shows a sign with a less aggressive warning but that’s only because my sign is in a restricted area and I don’t bring my fancy phone with me when I enter the restricted area. I was unwilling to enter the restricted area later to snag a scary-sign picture because I’m basically a rule follower (*unless the rules make no sense, in which case all bets are off). Anyway, every day I pass the scary sign and enter the room and lay down on the strange table under the giant machine with the robotic arm and whirling parts and I have only a hospital gown to protect me from the beams so strong that they warrant their own special sign and an eight inch thick door. Asher has his thumb x-rayed and I had to wear an iron apron, yet for this daily adventure, nothing.

So the doctor tells me that the beams are targeted and that there is some minimal internal scatter but no protective garment would impact that. There is some external risk as well, but I’d have to wear a protective garment the size of a house to provide sufficient protection so no luck there either. She adds however, that the residual radiation is less than I would receive flying on a plane from New York to LA (which I did every day for 25 days straight LAST month). So, asked and answered I suppose.

There you have it, my first official update. Mylifeline.org has kindly provided me with tips for making my update “great.” In brief: 1. Post a new photo with updates for more visual appeal (check); 2. Write the truth. People want to know what’s really happening. (yup); 3. Even though the truth may be hard news or a serious setback, try to end the message on a positive note. Can you share a special memory from the past, or an endearing moment from the day? (*I would like you all to take a moment to recall an experience in which I may not have exactly been an unabashed rule follower. One might spring to mind without too much difficulty). 4. Add a video from YouTube. Copy and paste the embed code from the YouTube video and post it into the content area of your Connecting Update. Okay, there were a whole lot of instructions there that I don’t understand. I’m sure that Rich can translate later. In the meantime, check this one out. Nothing to do with cancer, but it makes me laugh:

Oh wait, I just re-read the instructions and I think that’s what I just did. Woo hoo!

Love to you all!
-C

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TBT: The Cancer Series-Part 1


Counse / Foter / CC BY

As I’ve mentioned before, this blog began in its original version back in 2007 when I was a crunchy parent trying to live a healthy and mindful life with my husband and two children. The blog got sidelined when we were faced with a series of health challenges that started in the summer of 2008. I kept thinking that life would settle down and I could return to my writing at CrunchyParent.com, but amidst the years of chaos we forgot to pay the annual web hosting fee. As a result, the blog content vanished. I had backed up some of my posts, but far from all. Those that I saved are on a computer that has been languishing in storage with the majority of our possessions while we have been living with my parents and house hunting these past nine months. I hope to retrieve and re-post some of what I had written in the past because I think that it provides context, perspective, and maybe even helpful information.

Until I am able to post some of the “greatest hits” from CrunchyParent.com of yesteryear, I wanted to periodically share some of what I had written on a private blog that I maintained through MyLifeLine.org, a free website service for individuals with cancer, back when I was going through my cancer treatment and early recovery. Although it has been almost five years since that time, so much of what I had written feels like yesterday to me. When I attend my Cancer Yoga classes or interact with others going through cancer diagnosis, treatment, and recovery right now I see so much of what I experienced; fear, uncertainty, confusion, loss. I feel a particular connection to parents of young children who are struggling to battle cancer while simultaneously trying to care for the needs of their kids, juggle work and financial demands, and plan for a future that has suddenly become unclear. Cancer survival statistics often only extend out for five years, which can seem especially discouraging when you are in your twenties, thirties, or forties. I know that when I was first diagnosed, I was actively looking for survivors who had lived many years beyond their diagnosis. It gave me hope and a brighter vision for my future.

As I begin to approach that five year survival mark, I want to acknowledge how I felt when I was there, and also say that I am (very gratefully) still here, and plan to be here for a long time. If you have found your way to CrunchyParent.com because you or someone who you love is battling cancer right now, I hope that you find a connection and know that you are not alone. No one fights alone.

This post was initially written in January, 2011 about a month after I had received my diagnosis.

As many of you know, I spent much of last year on bed rest growing Asher into a strong and healthy baby. For the majority of those 166 days, I was in bed lounging on my left side and counting the milestones in his development. My most exciting activities were short walks to the bathroom and visits to see my various doctors. Somewhere in that time I began to notice that the front of my left thigh seemed to be raised relative to my right thigh. I speculated that maybe it was unequal muscle development since I was supporting all of my weight with my left side while my right side atrophied. I was also concerned that perhaps it was a blood clot from excessive horizontal time. I showed the raised area to several of my doctors but they did not seem impressed, so I dismissed it as another pregnancy-related oddity.

With Asher’s birth came great joy and an intense desire to make up for time lost stuck in the house. The kids kept me busy and I was also going to physical therapy 1-2 times/week to recover some of the strength and mobility lost to the pregnancy complications. I thought that maybe PT would resolve the “leg lump” as I came to call it, but the months wore on and there was still no improvement. In fact it seemed that the lump was getting in my way even more, and limiting my range of motion. I asked my PTs to weigh in with thoughts and they speculated that it was an unresolved hematoma and referred me to my primary care doc. This move earned me an MRI which revealed a large mass in my thigh muscle. I was told to see a doctor who, “is familiar with tumors” and sat waiting for the first available appointment with an orthopedic oncologist.

Once the first available appointment rolled around, things began to move rather quickly. I met with the doctor on Monday, Dec. 20th, had a biopsy on Tuesday the 21st, and received my official diagnosis on Wednesday, December 22nd. To my great surprise, I was diagnosed with a low grade myxoid liposarcoma; a rare cancer of the soft tissues. Thursday, December 23rd was a CT scan to see if the cancer had spread elsewhere, and then we waited and waited and waited for results (note: try to avoid being diagnosed with cancer just prior to major holidays). Fortunately, the cancer did not appear to have spread and I was given a stage 1B (“B” for, “Boy, that’s a mighty big tumor you have there.”).

Since my diagnosis I have met with two radiation oncologists and also received a second surgical opinion from an orthopedic oncologist. Our good friend at a respected cancer institute has also been weighing in with his sage advice and bending the ears of the sarcoma specialists out there. It has been recommended by all that I undergo a 5-week course (25 rounds) of radiation to help define the margins around the tumor and then have surgery to remove the tumor after a 3-4 week rest period (to allow residual swelling to subside). I am told that following this course of treatment should result in an 80-90% chance that I will not have the cancer reappear within a 5-year time period. I personally am interested in the statistics for a 50 year time period but I have yet to find them, so I guess we’ll just aim for five years at a time.

I began radiation on January 13th. So far things are rolling along fairly smoothly as we adjust and try to manage the logistical odds and ends. I have been touched by all of the support that we have received from family and friends far and wide. With all of the changes that have been going on I am finding it increasingly challenging to return emails and phone calls in a timely fashion so I am hoping that I can post updates here to help keep people accurately informed and streamline my “workload.” Please know that I receive, read, and appreciate all of your messages and forgive me if I do not get to reply to each and every one.

***As a final note, although the girls know that I am getting “special” medicine and will need to have surgery on the bump in my leg, we have not used the word cancer with them. Cancer is hard enough for adults to manage emotionally and we’d prefer to save the girls from the stress of worrying unnecessarily about my health and future right now, since we have every reason to be optimistic about a cure. We would appreciate if you would please be sensitive around their little ears.***

Thank you!
-Corrie (and Rich and the rest)

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BuddhiBox Yoga Lifestyle Subscription Unboxing & Review: October 2015

CrunchyParent BuddhiBox October Unboxing & Review

BuddhiBox is a subscription service bringing mindful living products to use in your yoga practice and to enhance your life. Products are ethically sourced, cruelty-free, and created with intention. BuddhiBox is guided by the principles of discovery, union, and compassion; hoping to help you discover new products and share them with your community. BuddhiBox donates a portion of each box’s cost to a new charity each month. Each box includes 4-6 full-size items for $32.95/month (shipping included). There are discounts on multi-month subscriptions.

I purchased this box and all opinions are my own. To see BuddhiBox unboxings from prior months, look here.

If you would like to see the live-action unboxing please enjoy the video unboxing below. If you would like to skip along to the photos and valuing information, scroll right on down.

The box was well packaged in an outer shipping box. Everything arrived to me safely and intact.

Buddhibox October unboxing & review enclosure cards

I really enjoy BuddhiBox’s presentation. I love the Yogicard that they include each month, illustrating and describing the technique and benefits behind a yoga pose. This month’s pose was “Heart Chakra Pose.” I though tit was especially cute that the yogi in the pose was wearing pink ribbons on her skirt as a nod to October as Breast Cancer Awareness month, which was highlighted later in the box as well. The box also included a recipe card for Fried Rice with Tofu, and the card describing the box contents. Every month BuddhiBox donates a portion of their proceeds to a charity, and the box enclosure card highlighted the Circuelle Foundation as the charity selected this month. The Circuelle Foundation aims to educate young women about breast health and teach healthy rituals.

Buddhibox October unboxing Om intention candle & thieves oil spray

The first thing that caught my eye in the unboxing was an absolutely gorgeous candle, The In Light & Love Intention Candle (6 oz., value $12.00) is their Om candle, associated with the crown chakra. The candle is housed in a beautifully decorated tin that encourages you to write your intention in a space provided on the tin. When you light the candle, you direct your energy toward the declared intention.

Closeup of Om candle lid

Closeup of Om candle lid

I loved this idea and thought it such a great way to tie intention and mindfulness to ritual. The candle even came with a tiny piece of chalk for writing the intention. I imagine that you could either dedicate a single intention to the candle, or erase and write a new intention as needed. The soy wax candle’s scent is a blend of vanilla, coconut, magnolia blossom, and lavender. I found the scent to be stronger than I prefer, although I can be quite sensitive to scents. I know that others prefer candles with a strong scent throw in a room, so this might be the perfect choice for someone who likes candles to have a pronounced presence.

I loved the scent of the next item, Optimal Health Oil’s Thieves Blend Spray (size estimated as 2 oz., value $10.00). I am a huge fan of Thieves oil and have been blending my own Thieves for many years. This legendary mix of rosemary, clove, cinnamon, eucalyptus, and lemon essential oils has been used for centuries to kill bacteria and viruses. We spray it all throughout our house regularly, and especially during times of illness.

BuddhiBox October unboxing & review Jiva headband & Circuelle cream

As a nice tie-in to yoga practice on the mat, the box included a cute sweat-wicking headband from Jiva Clothing, a new-to-me brand (value $10.00), s well as a coupon code for $10.00 off of a Jiva Clothing order. The headband is stretchy and designed to be worn either as a narrow band or it can be unfolded and word wide for a different look. I liked the cute print and thought that the black and white was a very versatile option for most workout gear.

Buddhibox also included a bonus gift from the Circuelle Foundation. Circuelle’s Breast Ritual cream is an organically-based blend, designed to assist in breast self-examination and earlier detection of breast cancer. Circuelle also included a helpful pamphlet to guide the user through a breast self-exam. I think that this bonus is a true gift to remind us to monitor our breasts and bodies for changes that may be suspicious. Breast health and breast cancer awareness is critical and so important for early detection. I will add here that 50% of all cancer diagnoses are “rare” cancers, so while you are checking out your breasts for any signs of lumps or suspicious changes, remember to give the rest of yourself a look too.

BuddhiBox unboxing review October Energy Muse Chakra Heaing Stones Set

Arguably the most colorful item in the box was a happy little bag of Energy Muse’s Chakra Healing bag of stones. BuddhiBox listed a value of $25.00, but Energy Muse prices this item at $19.99 on their site, so I am going to defer to that (value $19.99). The tag on the bag of stones outlines the property most associated with each stone and the color associated with each of the seven chakras. Energy Muse also provided a suggestion for using the stones in a chakra-balancing, quick meditation. I love the idea of having a little bag of stones dedicated to the seven chakras. I think that there are many people, myself included, who often feel imbalance in their lives. Having an array of practices to try that might help a person feel restored in their balancing is a good idea, and I imagine that many people would feel refreshed after taking 8-10 minutes to clear their mind and relax.

BuddhiBox October review People Towels paper alternative

The final item in this month’s box took me a minute to fully understand. The On the Go Alternative to Paper Towels set by People Towels (value $11.00) is a set of two washcloth-size organic cotton towels in a small bag. The towels feature cute prints, dyed with eco-friendly dyes. It took me a moment to realize that the set is meant to be tossed in a purse or gym bag and used instead of paper towels when washing hands in public restrooms, or I suppose whenever you might need a paper towel or small cloth. I really love this idea and think that it would also make a great alternative to hand wipes to keep around in a diaper bag for messy babies and toddlers (just add a splash of water).

BuddhiBox yoga subscription unboxing review October Crunchy Parent

In total this month’s BuddhiBox had a retail value of $62.99+ the bonus cream. I think hat this is an excellent value, at almost double the purchase price of a single box. I like that Buddhibox embraces the idea of a yoga lifestyle subscription. They included items to support physical health, emotional and energetic balance, environmental health, and items for direct use in yoga practice. I continue to appreciate the yoga cards and recipes. I also really like that BuddhiBox includes a charitable aspect to their box, with monthly nations to different charities.

What do you think of BuddhiBox? Have you had a chance to sample some of the other yoga-focused or crunchy, zen, mindful subscription boxes to compare?

To see other crunchy subscription box video unboxings, look here on the Crunchy Parent You Tube channel. If you are interested in finding “crunchy-friendly” subscription boxes to enhance the way you live, eat, craft, play, care for you home and body, etc. you can find that here. If you have any suggestions or requests for future videos or unboxings, please let me know in the comments, and be sure to subscribe to CrunchyParent!

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Beauty Heroes Subscription Box Unboxing and Review-October 2015

Beauty Heroes Luxury Green Beauty Subscription unboxing & review Natural non-toxic Octuber 2015

Beauty Heroes is a luxe green beauty subscription service (formerly Spa Heroes). The Beauty Heroes mission is to provide their customers with products from the very best non-toxic, clean, green beauty brands. Each month Beauty Heroes sends one full size luxury product, sometimes with a smaller bonus item (because every superhero loves a good sidekick). Products are chosen to fit with the season, and are screened to avoid an impressive laundry list of villain ingredients such as parabens, mineral oil, and triclosan; and to include natural superpower ingredients to nurture your skin such as turmeric, reishi mushroom, and sea buckthorn. Beauty Heroes boxes cost $39.00/month (shipping included) and are less with multi-month subscriptions. Subscribe now and use code HEROLOVE to get $10 off of your first box. Orders placed by October 15th will receive the box reviewed here, while supplies last. Orders placed after the 15th will receive the November box as their first box.

I purchased this box and was not compensated in any way for this review, although review may contain affiliate links. All opinions are my own. To see my other Beauty Heroes unboxings and reviews, look here.

If you would like to see the live-action unboxing, please enjoy the video unboxing below. If you prefer to skip right to the product close-ups and details, scroll down past the video.

The box came with a big, bright “Beauty Heroes” label. I opened it to find an enclosure reviewing the brand and products highlighted (more on that in a moment), as well as one of my favorite quotes from Maya Angalou. First-time subscribers also receive a handy pocket guide listing both villain and superpower ingredients to notice in cosmetic, skincare, and beauty products. I received the guide with my first box in September so it is not pictured below. I think that this pocket guide is great to carry around as a reference when shopping for personal care items.

This month’s expert selection comes from the new-to-me brand, In Fiore. In Fiore was founded in 1999 by Julie Elliott to blend apothecary traditions with modern luxury, maintaining a strong emphasis on botanical aromatics. With a focus on using the highest quality floral ingredients to evoke a luxe sensory experience, In Fiore uses organic, wildcrafted, and biodynamic botanical ingredients from around the world; bottling the results beautifully to extend the spa experience into one’s home.

Beauty Heroes In Fiore Treate Cleansing Emulsion

Beauty Heroes chose In Fiore’s Treate Cleansing Emulsion to highlight as their full-size expert selection of the month (4.2 oz., value $58.00). They noted the superpower ingredients aloe vera leaf juice, rose flower hydrosol, rosehip fruit extract, calendula flower extract, and dandelion root extract; listing anti-aging, calming, clearing, and hydrating among their many benefits to the skin. If you happen to be wondering what the difference is between a hydrosol and an extract, I have more about that here. Beauty Heroes also added that the cleansing emulsion is vegan, cruelty-free, GMO-free, and free of gluten.

In Fiore Treate Cleansing Emulsion-Beauty Heroes

Not wanting to force our hero to fly solo, Beauty Heroes included a travel size bottle of In Fiore’s Lustra Illuminating Essence as a faithful sidekick (1 oz, value $30.00). Working as a team, the two products can be used in the In Fiore signature 4-2-4 cleansing ritual, inspired by Asian cleansing tradition. Beauty Heroes enclosed In Fiore’s brochure describing the 4-2-4 cleansing ritual which begins with four minutes of massaging the Lustra essence onto the face and neck. A series of eight illustrations guide you through the massage sequence, which appears to be designed to lift the skin, stimulate circulation, and promote movement of the lymph system. Following four minutes of massage with the Lustra essence, the Treate Cleansing Emulsion is layered atop the essence and the massage sequence is continued for another two minutes. When that time is complete, the face and neck are rinsed with warm water for two minutes, followed by two minutes of cold water rinsing.

Beauty Heroes October 2015 subscription In Fiore Lustra Illuminating Essence

I was excited to try this ritual and was grateful that Beauty Heroes included both products to allow for the more complete experience. The Lustra essence is an oil-based cleanser, blending light oils such as grapeseed, jojoba, avocado, and castor oil and infusing the mix with jasmine extract, rosemary, arnica, cypress, and other botanicals. The essence has a heady jasmine fragrance and a silky feel on the skin. I have used oil cleansers in the past and enjoy them, but I appreciated the added ritual of massaging my face and neck for the prescribed time, and as illustrated. I could certainly feel the stimulating effects of the massage, and my skin “waking up” in response.

The In Fiore 4-2-4 system

The In Fiore 4-2-4 system

Initially I thought that I was to rinse the essence before using the emulsion (this is how I have approached multi-step Korean beauty cleansing in the past), however In Fiore instructed me to layer the Treate emulsion over the essence and continue with two minutes of slow massage. The emulsion is similar to a light lotion in its texture, and less aromatic than the essence, although still floral in its fragrance. It paired well with the essence, which helped it to glide smoothly over my skin throughout the massage. Once the time was complete, I finished the cleanse with the four minute warm/cold water rinse as directed, even though I am not at all a fan of ending a cleansing experience with a cold water rinse (this applies to showers and hair rinses as well). I find the experience uncomfortably shocking, although I know that the shock is what makes it so stimulating for circulation and for the lymph system. Perhaps I should try to think of it as exhilarating or refreshing.

In Fiore Lustra Essence and Treate Emulsion

In Fiore Lustra Essence and Treate Emulsion

In total, the ritual experience was a bit reminiscent of the things that I have done in the past to stimulate my circulatory and lymphatic drainage systems to help eliminate toxins following my cancer-related procedures. I can certainly understand how these invigorating movements can increase blood flow and move congested fluid from the face and neck, which I imagine would help to ease puffiness. As mentioned in the video, I also appreciated that all massaging motions were in an upwards direction to prevent tugging skin in a way that might encourage sagging.

Spending ten minutes cleaning my face is not always a practical option, but I do think that I could do a more abbreviated cleanse in the morning and commit to the 4-2-4 ritual in the evening when I am less hurried. I think that it would be a wonderful way to unwind from the day and would feel very indulgent. I left the experience feeling like I had done something special for my skin. My face and neck were exceptionally soft and I smelled beautiful (I may have made several family members sniff me).

Beauty Heroes Luxe green beauty subscription box October 2015 featuring In Fiore

I think that the curation and branding of Beauty Heroes is so clever and well-executed. The concept of green beauty saving our skin and bodies from evil toxic ingredients and enhancing them through ingredient superpowers resonates with me. The packaging of the monthly expert selection with the little superhero mask is eye-catching and memorable. Tucking in the helpful sidekick product is an adorable way to carry through the superhero theme, in addition to being practical. Brands typically develop the products in their line to work well synergistically. It is wonderful to be able to not just sample a single item, but to use multiple products from a featured green beauty line. The full-size hero products and generous trial-sized sidekicks allow for use over an extended period of time to really get a sense of product efficacy.

I have been incredibly impressed with the brands that Beauty Heroes has featured. The brands represent a growing area in the green beauty market that I have been so excited to see; luxury green beauty often rooted in herbalism or plant-based tradition. Opening my Beauty Heroes box feels like a a trip back to A Night for Green Beauty. I enjoy receiving products from familiar luxe green beauty brands and being introduced to new brands that I quickly come to love. The value of this month’s box was $88.00, which I think is a fantastic value for the $39.00 box price. Beauty Heroes allows me to integrate luxury green beauty into my life on a regular basis at a sustainable and affordable price. I truly am beginning to feel like I step into a spa every time I enter my bathroom and use my growing collection of luxe natural products. I think that it is safe to say that Beauty Heroes is my favorite beauty subscription to date. I feel like it was tailor made for me, but I imagine that anyone passionate about green beauty with an appreciation for high quality luxury would feel the same.

I would love to hear your thoughts or experiences with Beauty Heroes. If you want to get your hands on the October box, do not delay. You must order on or before October 15th to receive this box. Remember to use the code HEROLOVE for $10 off of your first box. Orders placed October 16 or later will receive the November box as their first shipment.

If you would like to see my most recent listing of “crunchy-friendly” subscription boxes, you can find that here. It does not have Beauty Heroes on the list, but they will be added to the autumn update very soon. To see other crunchy subscription box video unboxings, look here on the Crunchy Parent You Tube channel. If you have any suggestions or requests for future videos, please let me know in the comments, and be sure to subscribe to Crunchy Parent.

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