by Elise Frame
A loved one?s cancer diagnosis can shake an entire family to its core. Between comprehending complicated medical information, traveling to and from doctor appointments and keeping track of pills and treatments (all on top of everyday life, no less), patients and caregivers alike often feel overwhelmed. ?I didn?t know where to start, what to do or what kind of resources were out there,? remembers Brandi Blocker, whose mother, J.M. LaPierre, faced both lung and breast cancer diagnoses.
However, by using the LIVESTRONG Guidebook, Brandi and her mother were able to keep everything in order and make their transition into treatment a little smoother and less stressful. ?You don?t think about all the small things in that book,? said Brandi. ?It really helped having that information and those resources there in one place.?
The LIVESTRONG Guidebook is a free resource available to all cancer survivors and their families through LIVESTRONG?s Cancer Navigation Services. The Guidebook is a journal containing tons of cancer-related information, such as helpful tips of what to bring to doctor appointments and hospital stays, how to process difficult emotions, and a list of cancer-related organizations that can provide specific kinds of support. There are also designated spaces for the patient or caregiver to fill in important medical information and keep all their paperwork in one place.
Brandi found the Guidebook to be so useful that she would show it to other patients and caregivers at her mother?s clinic and tell them to get one too. Although her mother recently passed away, Brandi wanted to honor her mother?s memory and support LIVESTRONG?s mission of helping those affected by cancer.
?When she was sick, every day I thought about what I could do to make her smile. One of those things was when I would paint her nails. So, whenever I could give her even just a few moments of taking her mind off it [cancer and treatment], I did,? said Brandi. ?For years, my mom and I bonded over nail polish. It was always our thing.?
Brandi and her mother enjoyed their special times together when Brandi would paint her mother?s nails or help her put on her favorite hot pink lipstick. However, Brandi noticed that the strong smell of the cosmetics would often make her mother feel sick, especially after chemotherapy. Brandi also worried about what kinds of harmful chemicals could be inside the products she was using. With these concerns for her mother in mind, she set out to create her own chemically-conscious cosmetics line, LaPierre Cosmetics.
LaPierre Cosmetics, named after Brandi?s mother, features glass nail files, nail lacquers and all-natural polish removers without the strong smell often associated with cosmetics. The line is also ?4 Free,? meaning none of the products contain the top four harmful chemicals commonly found in cosmetics: formaldehyde, toluene, camphor or dibutyl phthalate (DBP). LaPierre Cosmetics also seeks to be environmentally conscious, using glass bottles with wooden tops for almost all of its products, and opting for linen drawstring bags instead of plastic ones.
?My mother never, ever complained. She was a classy, elegant and intelligent woman. She stuck out? she was very different and unique. I wanted everything about this product to be a reflection of her,? said Brandi.
?My mom was so precious to me; she was my best friend. I really poured my soul into it [LaPierre Cosmetics]. This was one of our things, and before she passed away she got to try on the lacquers and see the finished product; she loved it.?
Brandi felt that since LIVESTRONG?s Cancer Navigation Services and Guidebook were so helpful to her and her mother, she wanted to give a portion of LaPierre Cosmetics? proceeds to the Foundation. ?One dollar from every lacquer bottle we sell, we donate to LIVESTRONG. The more I sell, the more I can donate,? said Brandi.
?I felt blessed that I was able to help my mother in the way I could, but I know not everybody has the same resources and options. Take advantage of everything that LIVESTRONG offers, not just for the cancer patient but for the caregiver too.?
If you or a loved one are facing a cancer diagnosis, The LIVESTRONG Foundation can provide support by sending you our free Guidebook and connecting you with our Navigation team. You can contact us by calling 1-855-220-7777, filling out our online intake form or by visiting us in person at LIVESTRONG?s Cancer Navigation Center 2201 E. 6th St, Austin, TX 78702.