Fashion, Beauty and Wellness Tips From My Year With Cancer

No Hair Don’t Care

First order of business: I’m a Cosmo girl now! For those of you who may not know, I was approached by to a be a featured blogger for their website. Hallelujah, I have everyone fooled! People think I’m a writer! This means two things: First, I may be blogging a little less on this site to accommodate my deadlines for Cosmo. Second, that doesn’t really matter because I will be posting my Cosmo blogs on this site as well! Read, share, and enjoy! Here’s post number one in case you missed it!

Now back to ChemoCouture land!

As you can see from my last post, I was having a ton of fun with the wigs. Each one I put on gave me a fresh attitude and a new way to carry myself. The long one made me feel like a socialite with not a care in the world except which club to go to tonight. The red finger wave catapulted me into an era of intense glamour and desire. The short brown one acted as an invisibility cloak, allowing me to carry on with my life as normal with no one being the wiser. Interestingly, I also noticed people treated me in slightly different ways depending on what crown I adorned myself with. The red super hero wig made people a little nervous! Salespeople seemed anxious about upsetting me, almost as if this fiery red head was going to lunge at them from across the counter if they made one false move. It really is a super hero wig! It has the power to scare people into submission!

Up to this point, my concern about people’s reactions to my appearance was what kept me from unveiling the one look I hadn’t tried yet: Bare. I had been prepping myself for the things I imagined people would think about me. They ranged from schoolyard taunts like Baldy or Chrome Dome and went to derogatory ideas like Skin Head or Hardcore. But the worst term I could imagine that people could think about me was Sick. There was no hiding it now. I would be bald and everyone would be able to see it. I knew that no one would say these things to me out loud but they might be thinking it and I would read it all over their faces. They could pity me, patronize me, thank God they aren’t me. All things I wasn’t sure I was ready to confront.

Like everything on this path I’m on, I needed to get over this hang up and fast. Wigs are fun but they are just not practical. They itch, they’re hot, they require maintenance, and they start to give me a headache if I wear them for more than four hours. Not to mention it’s just plain weird at times! I’m constantly reintroducing myself to people I’ve known for years, their eyes blinking quickly until they finally recognize the updated me. It’s not any better with strangers. When I walk into public places, I may as well be wearing a chicken on my head. That’s how strange it feels to know this weave you’re sporting doesn’t belong on you. I attempt to meet a new person and it’s all I can do to not blurt out “Hi I’m Krystacanyoutellthisisawig??” Getting comfortable with my scalp was necessary to my comfort, convenience and sanity.

Peter and I decided to try it out for the first time on a trip to the movies. I figured if I chickened out, at least it would be dark for two hours! (I should mention that we were in California at the time and this should not be attempted in cold climates in March!) I approached the ticket counter and the woman acted so unfazed it was almost surreal. She didn’t look at me pitifully. She didn’t act afraid of me. None of the things I had feared came true. She did her job, printed my ticket and sent me to the theatre. We watched the film, enjoyed ourselves immensely and the thought didn’t enter my mind again. Afterward, I went to the restroom and an older woman was walking in with me. The thoughts came back again. Is she scared of me? Does she think I’m an angry person who balded herself with rage? Does she think I’m an immature hipster? Does she think I’m contagious? Does she think I’m dying? We washed our hands together at the sink and she turned to me to speak. As her mouth opened, I braced myself for what she had to say. Here it comes………”How did you like the movie?”

I was floored. That’s it?! We continued in polite banter, something I as a New Yorker have always had trouble with, and then we went our separate ways. Her question was so benign, so innocently inquisitive. As I encountered more people and had more of these simple interactions I realized something. If I don’t pity myself, people won’t pity me. If I don’t bite heads off bats, people won’t think I’m a deranged skin head. If I don’t act sick, they won’t see me as sick. But they DO want to get to know me. They sense I have a story, one that I need to tell to feel free. They ask, they listen, they smile. They are rooting for me. They know I can do it. They know because I told them so.

Where’s Baldo?


There she is!


Okay...maybe I'm a little hardcore
Okay…maybe I’m a little hardcore


You can't help but rub it!
You can’t help but rub it!



All photos taken by Peter!

Color correction and photo editing: Adam Deen.

Valentine’s Day! Part 2

I hope you all enjoyed Part 1! As you can see we were having a pretty good time.

I’m going to go on a quick diversion for a minute. The Parker was also the site of one of my favorite episodes of television “Valerie Relaxes In Palm Springs”. If you don’t know The Comeback, and especially this episode, watch it now. No seriously, right now. I’ll wait.






Are you done? SO GOOD RIGHT?! In this episode, everyone’s favorite underdog Valerie Cherish (played by my hero Lisa Kudrow) heads to the desert to get away from the stress of her failing TV show (been there, done that). While there, she reconnects with an old acquaintance that recently fought breast cancer (been THERE, DOING that!) and now has a brassier and more frank attitude toward life. Valerie, who’s main character flaw is her need to control everything, is majorly uncomfortable with her friend’s ballsy new outlook. In a touching scene, her friend plainly and poignantly says to Valerie, “You have to stop worrying so much about what people think. You gotta love yourself, warts and all.”

I bring this up for several reasons. 1. I take any chance I get to proselytize about the genius that is The Comeback 2. Even before cancer was a part of my life, this scene challenged and excited me. The marked difference between a woman who gripped tightly to the way people looked at her (who I have been at times) and a woman who let a traumatic experience set her free (who I want to be) was never more clearly illustrated than at that moment. Finally, 3. We were at the exact hotel and location where this scene was shot and coincidentally, I ended up needing this advice a little during our trip.

I have always loved to experiment with fashion. Even as a young kid I had the purple Dr. Martens instead of the black ones. Sure, that meant getting teased a bit for not blending in, but good fashion thrives on a touch of rebellion. However, we all know that no matter how free we want to think we are, there’s a limit to how “out there” we are willing to go. And I reached mine.


I had so much fun dreaming up all these looks for the weekend. Different eras, different wigs, different uses for thing I already had. One of the challenges was finding ways to cover my head enough to shield it from the sun without getting too hot in the process. Then while perusing some stores, I found a lavender 1920’s style bathing suit at TopShop on sale for $20 and I took it as a sign. I was going full bathing beauty! I ordered a vintage bathing cap from an adorable shop on Etsy and couldn’t wait to display the result.

Turns out it’s all fun and games until you actually have to WEAR the bathing cap at the pool in front of 40 or so hot young things. A wave of anxiety hit the back of my neck like a baseball bat. Everyone is looking at me. I probably look stupid. Is everyone wondering who this weirdo is? The thoughts rattled on and on. Then, just in the nick of time, my brain latched on to Valerie Cherish. You have to stop worrying so much about what people think. You gotta love yourself, warts and all. Tumor and all. Baldness and all. Bathing cap and all. This is what cancer and this blog is teaching me. Change is mightily uncomfortable sometimes but if you can allow yourself to stop caring so much, you can actually have a ton of fun. My shoulders melted back down to their original position and I dove into the cool water with renewed gusto.


bathing cap

cap and pool



My new found ability to embrace my look came in handy on our next pool trip. I wanted the feeling of a 70’s era yacht princess. Lots of gold and lots of skin. Luckily, skin is something I have even more of these days! It was time to step out with some baldness. I actually found this much easier both practically and emotionally than I expected. It was cool and comfortable and I owned it. I loaded up on the sunscreen but also added the hat to be extra careful. Side note: this suit is from Target which is my favorite place for suit shopping. They have a year round selection and their stuff is as cute as it is cheap. The body bracelet is Forever 21 and I am totally obsessed with it.


pool closeup



For my last outfit I wanted to give in to my surroundings. Everything is so 60’s on the grounds of the hotel. The vibe is like a trippier Brady Bunch: indoor fire pits, wicker chair swings suspended from the ceiling, bright oranges and pinks everywhere. So I attempted my best Marcia. I kept the hat from before and added the long wig which had been waiting for its public debut. For the face, I drew a wing tip with my eyeliner, glued on some lashes and used a matte lip for that hippie touch.

Screen Shot 2015-03-06 at 4.49.51 PM

I already owned this daisy romper but hadn’t busted it out yet. I’m so glad I waited! It perfectly completed my love child look.

_MG_0102 _MG_0119

Once dinner was over it was sadly time to pack up everything and go home. Our skin was a little tanner and my head was a little higher. I had unleashed a hidden femme fatale and quieted some demons. Sometimes a weekend in the desert is exactly what you need to get your head on straight. Just ask Valerie Cherish.


All photos by Peter!

Color correction and editing: Adam Deen.

Valentine’s Day! Part 1

Here we go! It’s fashion time! #TBT to Valentine’s Day 2015. My head was bald, my wigs were fierce and I had (still have) a boy who loves me. What better time to jet off to a desert oasis for a weekend getaway! Palm Springs has always been a go-to destination for me when I want to ensure some relaxation and sun. We hit The Parker which is a super retro, swinging 60’s compound that used to be the home and villas of the “Singing Cowboy” Gene Autry. This was the perfect opportunity to try out as many new looks as I could cram into one weekend. Enjoy!



I began the trip with a visit to the 1940s. (I should note here that the majority of the fashion on this blog will be things I already own or can get at a very reasonable price. Cancer is already expensive, looking good doesn’t have to be). I had been experimenting with head wrap looks and I figured why not copy the experts. Women of that time period were constantly covering their heads in between salon visits or to keep their curls in place. It was a working woman’s look that now feels fresh and glamorous. I found this chrysanthemum printed scarf at Forever 21 and cut it to the optimum size (I have found a 20″ x 20″ square works best). From there I built the rest of the outfit. A pop of candy-colored yellow in the bodysuit and some high-waisted shorts and I was ready to be the treasure of any recruit in the infantry.


Hey Sailor!


Windmills! You are entering Palm Springs!
Windmills! Must be entering Palm Springs!

One thing about Palm Springs is that it’s hot. Very VERY hot. The sun is unfettered and it’s not hard to end your relaxing weekend with a weep worthy sunburn. When my strongest SPF still won’t cut it I always use my trusty parasol. Sunshade and style all in one!




Add some electric pink lips and killer TopShop shades and you're ready for the pool!
Add some electric pink lips and killer TopShop shades and you’re ready for the pool!


We sunned, sipped and swam all day until it was time to get ready for dinner. When I had originally started brainstorming a wig for our Valentine’s meal I was dreaming up cotton candy colored bobs or fiery red flowing locks. But then I remembered that Peter was going to have to sit across from this woman, whoever she was, and a crazy costume wig might not be the most flattering. I decided my Valentine’s gift to him would be to let him choose his “date” for the evening. Luckily he has excellent taste and is totally game for anything.



Part of the charm of Palm Springs is it’s history. It was a haven for many movie stars from the 20s to the 70s and most of the building were once houses of those celebrities. Our dinner reservation was at Copley’s which once belonged to legendary actor Cary Grant. When Peter found this out he came up with the idea to dress in the style of Ingrid Bergman and Cary Grant’s 1946 film “Notorious”. How sexy were these two?

Screen Shot 2015-03-05 at 5.52.48 PM


Well you don’t have to ask me twice!


My Cary Grant also takes pictures!

I found this wig on eBay of all places and I’m telling you it transformed me. I loved embodying such a sultry screen siren. This is a hair style I would never in a million years be able to recreate so to be able to plop it on my head and feel so glamorous was an incredible feeling. Especially considering just a week earlier I couldn’t get out of bed. What a difference a week and a wig make!


Here’s looking at (six of) you, kid

I colored my eyebrows a bit more auburn with a pencil and finished off the face with a deep red just a shade darker than the wig.

Red Red Red
The finished look!

I will shout from the rooftops that you can never go wrong in a pantsuit. I was mixing my Ingrid’s here: part Notorious, part Casablanca. She’s wearing a black velvet dress with beaded belt in the former but she rocks a fierce pantsuit look in the latter. Mix them together and you get an easy breezy outfit with a ton of impact. This pantsuit is from Lulu’s. I LOVE Lulu’s. Super affordable clothes that are right on trend. An Anthropologie belt tied it all together with my own heels and we stepped out like the power couple of the (mid)Century.

Let’s all give Peter a round of applause, shall we?! As a person who dresses up for a living I can say this was one of my favorite looks I’ve ever worn. It can be a little jarring to walk around “in costume” for all intents and purposes. But I found it to be so fun and liberating. I guess I learned to let my boyfriend dress me more often!

Check back tomorrow for part 2!



All photos by Peter!

Color correction and editing: Adam Deen.



“Unfortunately Ms. Rodriguez…”

These are words I’ve come to expect during this time of unfavorable circumstances. Some of the worst words you could ever imagine have finished this sentence in the last few months. But none shook me to my core or made me weep quite as hard as the ones I heard from Fed Ex on a snowy Monday morning.

“Unfortunately Ms. Rodriguez, someone threw your package away”

I black out a bit after I hear this. A burning heat starting in my cheeks spreads rapidly to every part of my body and my mouth starts lubricating itself like it does right before you puke. The unthinkable has happened: My wig, which was handmade for me and costs twice as much as my rent, has been thrown away by a Fed Ex employee.

Maybe I should remind you that I have just completely removed all the hair from my head. I’ll also add that I was at the salon that very minute for my appointment to get the wig cut to precision. And to top it off, I was scheduled to shoot a guest spot on a television show that day. Cue uncontrollable sobbing.

Let me go back.

I previously posted about my hair buying journey and the tedious work that was about to go into making my gorgeous handmade wig. I had flown to New York before the wig was completed so Maurice went to the local Fed Ex in LA and shipped it directly to Mala’s on a Friday for a Saturday delivery. I had zero anxieties about this plan at all. This sort of thing happens every day! What could go wrong? Around 3pm Saturday, the wig still hadn’t arrived so I called Fed Ex to inquire about the package. They said it never left the store, despite the fact that I had a receipt proving I had paid for it to be delivered the next day. After checking with the store in LA, they told me the package wasn’t at the store either and that we would have to wait until Monday for them to review the security tapes and see what happened. But there was a snowstorm coming to the city so we all still held out hope that it was on it’s way and just didn’t get recorded in all the chaos of storm preparation. In the spirit of this wildly misguided optimism, we scheduled the “haircut” Monday morning to get me looking as good as new for this shoot.

Now it’s Monday. I’m waiting patiently for either a call from the manager or a knock on the salon door from a shivering delivery man, whichever comes first. The call comes first. “Unfortunately Ms. Rodriguez…” Apparently they had footage on the tapes of an employee chucking my wig in the trash. Why someone would do this is a question that still rattles around in my balding head. There seems to be no other reason that to add to the absurdity of my life. So I let the tears go, crying for everything all at once. Fortunately, just as the heaves were diminishing into whimpers, I got a call from the TV show saying they were postponing the shoot due to weather. Ok, we can remove that from the list of concerns. So all that was left was to tackle my chrome dome dilemma with laser focus: I needed some wigs and I needed them fast.

Peter and I trudged through the rapidly accumulating snow to a wig store on 14th street. They have everything from expensive human hair wigs to purple afros and 40 inch cosplay options. I spent about an hour trying on as many as I wanted, eyeing the new woman I became with each flick of the wrist. I settled on three: a short, a long and a rebellious. The awesome part was they were all human hair but none of them was more than $60.  $170 total and I could style them at will. Don’t try this with synthetics! You’ll have melted hair confetti on your hands. SO here’s where the fashion starts coming into play. Just like an article of clothing always looks better when it’s been tailored to you, a wig that is customized, no matter what it looked like at first, can do wonders. I marched right back to Mala and this is what we came up with. (Side note: until I can learn the ins and outs of this blog template, just click on the photos to make them bigger. Computer dummy over here.)

before after short 2

This is my “regular Krysta” look. I actually couldn’t believe how ready-to-wear it was without even touching it. We just added some dimension and texture so it could have some freer movement at it was good to go.

before after long 2

This was really fun. I haven’t had long hair since I was 9 so this was a great way to experiment. When I put the original one on I felt like a Yale student in the early 70s. Not exactly what I was going for! We cut some super sassy bangs, got rid of a ton of bulk and layered the heck out of it. Now I’m like an assassin school student….in the early 70s.

before after red 2

My superhero wig! This was a treat I gave myself after the crappy day I had. I saw it up on the top shelf and immediately fell in love. It was already fun and spunky but Mala turned up the sass factor by cuting the coolest swoopy layers. It even has dark roots built in which cracks me up. Its my favorite of the three and I can’t wait to take this cherry red beauty for a test drive.

I finished up the day with a smile while the Fed Ex debacle faded slowly into just another ridiculous story. To their credit, Fed Ex swiftly reimbursed me and Maurice is back in his magic workshop starting from scratch one more time. Plus, I have three new ways to walk around life in. All in all, not a bad day. Fortunately Ms. Rodriguez, you’re gonna make it after all.

Here’s to the ladies who bzzzzzzzzzzzzz

“Someone told me once, you will wake up and know the day you are ready to say goodbye to your hair…I didn’t believe them…it was true”- Erin (ChemoCouture Comment)

It was fun while it lasted. Just one day after the photo shoot, two weeks to the day from my first treatment, the hair starting leaping from my head. It could not get out of there fast enough. My little follicles had fought the good fight, clinging on for dear life, but they were no match for the mighty chemo. And of course it had to be winter in NYC where a hat is mandatory and may as well be hair velcro, ripping the precious strands with each movement. Twenty, thirty, fifty hairs at a time. I was tense all over my body from actually WILLING the hair to stay in place. It was no use. It was only four days from when the first hair started to fall to when the razor came out but they were the longest four days of my life.

I woke up on day four to a city preparing for a snowpocalypse. My boyfriend Peter and I made our disaster checklist for the impending snow day: Food, water, flashlight, and an electric razor. Today was the day. The mental toll it was taking was so much worse than the idea of being bald that I was actually excited to do it. A rite of passage that would take place on a day of cleansing for the dirty streets outside and the wilting mane atop my head. Peter offered to shave his as well so our snow day was officially planned. We lined the bathroom with trashbags and fired up the trimmer.

The strangest part about it was how normal it felt. A few days earlier I was hemming and hawing over my J. Law pixie and now I was matter of factly razing my scalp. We talked through the whole thing, chatting about mundane things, stopping to adjust settings and manage some pain from the razor but mostly we had a good time. We started slow so my first pass yielded a very cute Mia Farrow look. I was ready to stop there. Hadn’t I been brave enough? Didn’t I deserve just an inch of hair? But alas, upon further inspection we found a gouge in the side of my hair caused by an overzealous pass over the ears. I should have known all along I wasn’t going to be able to half ass this.

Peter let me do his buzz in stages so I knew what each one looked like, starting at a 7 and going down to a 2. Of course, he got cuter and cuter as the layers went down. It didn’t take me long to realize that my balding head of patchy hair was never going to look like his full head of strong locks. I was not a girl with a buzz cut. I am a woman with cancer. And that’s okay. To pretend like anything else was happening felt counterproductive. So we took the guard off and said goodbye one last time.

I loved it. I still love it. I won’t say it doesn’t surprise me to see the person in the mirror or that I don’t ask Peter to keep telling me that I’m still beautiful. But I’m no longer a person at war with my breasts AND my scalp. I’ll bzzzzzzz to that!


See my snappy little head shave time lapse below!

Shadows and Surprises

Let me just start off by saying, if any of you ever want to feel beautiful, you only need to call Matthew Murphy and Alex Michaels. They are the Ghostbusters of glamour. Who ya gonna call? Matt and Alex!

Got it? Good. Here’s why:

The day after my super scary, super mind-altering haircut, I enlisted the help of these two awesome gentlemen for a down and dirty photo shoot. I needed an image for the blog, something that signaled what we were doing here on these pages and the attitude I was trying to convey. And let’s face it, I wanted an excuse to dress up my new hair. I knew Matthew’s work since he took all the still photos for First Date, the Broadway show I starred in last year. His shots were so fun and beautiful and it’s a good thing because those pictures graced every subway stop, telephone booth and bus in NYC, not to mention a gargantuan moving billboard in Times Square.




A few months later, I got the opportunity to work with him again on a photo shoot for Bleep Magazine featuring some fellow Broadway ladies. That’s when I met Alex, makeup artist extraordinaire, and together the two of them made photo magic again!



So when it came time to pick an image for the blog, the signpost for what my message was to be, I didn’t hesitate to ask them.

First and foremost, I wanted a very powerful and edgy shot for the main logo. I had my sights set on black and white from the beginning. Strong, determined, maybe even a little pissed off (hey, I’m allowed a little anger, right?!) But more importantly, I wanted beautiful and these boys do beautiful. I picked out every outfit very meticulously with the help of, you guessed it, Natasha, my friend/haircut cheerleader/personal stylist. But as luck would have it, after all this planning, my two favorite images turned out to be little surprises.

Mala’s salon (CarloMarco Studio for those who are asking) is right across the street from an Urban Outfitters. On a last minute whim, Natasha and I decided to stop in to see if there one thing we couldn’t live without for the shoot the next day. We tried on everything in the store like we were in a buddy comedy musical montage but nothing quite spoke to us. Just as we were wrapping up in the sale section, I hear her nonchalantly call out “I would sort of love it if you wore this.” I turned to see her holding up a grey t-shirt that she unearthed from a rack and I swear to you, angels started singing. A t-shirt, on sale, with embroidered X’s on the ta-ta’s. WHAT?!

That’s right ladies and gentlemen, that shirt in the photo came that way! We took scissors to it on the day to adjust the shape of the sleeves but those strategically placed X’s were a gift from above, I kid you not. As soon as we snapped the first shot in it, I knew it was going to be “the one.” Just the right touch of casual madness, with a hint of “I’m not gonna take this shit.” Who could ask for anything more?


Just in case you haven’t seen it enough



But it doesn’t stop there. The rest of the photos are absolutely stunning. Matthew and Alex outdid themselves. Here are a couple more favorites:



Alex lending a hand


Showing the right side of the haircut some love


Some vintage Liza Minnelli falling down


My other happy accident came during the shoot as we were checking some of the photos. We shot against a plain white wall which cast some very cool shadows on the back. As we scrolled through, oohing and ahhing, this one image took my breath away.





My little bald friend, standing right over my shoulder. A simple snapshot of my Present and my Future. The girl in front is focused and determined while the figure in black stands as a messenger, looking in a completely different direction as though it knows something that I just can’t. Not yet at least. But in a way, it has my back, ready to show me what it knows when the time is right. Eventually, I will look at the image as my Present and my Past. But we’ve got a lot more to do before then.



Photo Credit: Matthew Murphy, Twitter: @MurphyMade, Instagram: MurphyMade

Hair and Makeup: Alex Michaels. Twitter: @Alexislives, Instagram: Alexislives

Shining, Gleaming, Streaming, Flaxen, Waxen

I’m a person who buys hair now. Never thought that would happen! Two days after my first treatment I met with Maurice Neuhaus, a wig maker in Los Angeles to work his magic and craft an exact replica of my hair ( For all you non hair-buyers out there, here’s something you may not know: This shit is expensive! Fortunately, I’m nailing it in the insurance department right now and my plan covers one wig per lifetime. So no room for error!

Turns out, hair shopping is fun! And time consuming. We went to Extensions Plus in Reseda, an unassuming store with a few wigs displayed out front but a stock room that packs a punch. Immediately, the lovely sales woman brings out buckets of every kind of gorgeous strand that you can imagine. Long, straight, curly, fuzzy, snaggy, shaggy–sorry, I just started singing lyrics for a second there. Let’s just say there’s a lot of hair. After massive amounts of discussion about length, color, density, and texture, we finally settled on a base of deep browns and some vibrant violets to mimic what I had before. $800 later (for HAIR! We all have goldmines sitting on our heads and we don’t even know it!) I left Maurice to get started on his creation. The plan is to have it shipped to me while I’m in New York and have my hairdresser cut it exactly like she normally would while it’s on my head to have the best chance of recreating of my former style. I drive home that night on a high, thrilled with the idea of this silky crown coming together so perfectly.

This high is short lived because a few days later, the chemo starts to hit me. Hard. The nausea is no joke, my friends. The concept of a good night’s sleep has been banished from all memory. And the shot I get to stimulate my white blood cells is causing “bone pain.” Imagine the insides of your bones hurting, like growing pains but everywhere. My joints feel out of place, as if my body came in a kit and has been assembled incorrectly. But the knowledge that all this is temporary pulls me through. I envision my super fun trip to New York coming up where I’m getting a feisty new haircut. I remember that somewhere in L.A., a wig is being made, by hand, from hair I picked out. Something beautiful is coming to me soon. So I keep going.

Miraculously, a week later I feel almost perfectly normal. I survived the plane ride to NYC with no pain or sickness, even managing to lug a suitcase up two flights of stairs, which three days earlier actually felt like a task I would never achieve again. I land in the city and two hours later I’m performing at UCB and going out with friends afterward! It’s an eery and slightly empowering feeling to know you are sick but to feel so normal, like you’re cheating the system. I feel almost guilty about it. During this time I still haven’t shared with everyone that I have cancer. The secret inside is so large but the desire for normalcy is monumentally larger.  I have found that sometimes it just feels good to pretend. One of the first things you realize is that no one wants to tell you their problems or talk about fun frivolities when there’s a cancer elephant in the room. What they don’t know is that I’m the LAST thing I want to talk about! I don’t want something as greedy as this tumor to steal my ability to be a friend, a confidant, a woman. I’m not ready to be known this way. And once my hair falls out it will be harder to maintain these covert but carefree conversations. So I soak it all in, acknowledging how good laughter feels and visualizing the silky wig being made for me out of beautiful hair.

Now that I had some hair on the way, it was time to start getting rid of some. In all honesty, I didn’t feel like getting too creative with my new cut. It was going to be around for literally a week tops before it would start to fall out. Plus I have some super fun wigs coming in the mail so I didn’t want to exert too much energy picking out the perfect cut. Something short and sweet that would ease the transition. Enter Ms. Jennifer Lawrence! The patron Saint of pixie cuts. I screen captured a couple of her best red carpet hairstyles and would find myself just staring at them at all hours of the day, showing them to anyone who would look and mustering up the courage to start the change.

FullSizeRender                                                                       The inspiration

The truth is, I have always loved my current haircut. My stylist, Mala, had created this haircut for me about 8 years ago when, after playing homely Bebe in A Chorus Line. I needed a fresh and edgy look for In The Heights. We picked the color: plum. We imagined a cut: asymmetrical enough to be cheeky but sleek enough to be classy. And we stuck with it….for years. I never let anyone but Mala touch it. I would joke that I’m going to be like Halle Berry and have the same haircut until I’m 50. It just made sense for me. My whole life, I never felt comfortable with long hair. The day I cut it short my freshmen year of college was the day my outsides finally matched my insides. I grew up being a nondescript brunette in a sea of sunkissed beauties in Southern California and suddenly I had become a bobbed badass with her sites on an NYC takeover. This was it. I was never going back

Now here I am, staring at pictures of Jennifer on my phone and making myself be ready to do something different for the first time in almost a decade. Nothing like a future of forced baldness to make you take a risk! But just because it was necessary and inevitable didn’t keep me from being a nervous wreck beforehand. I even put it off a few days. There was just something about it that made me feel like there was no going back. I’m guessing it was the fact that there was no going back. Makes sense.

Here we go!

I brought my lovely best friend Natasha with me for moral support. A girl always needs a she-spiration when starting a new style change and she had chopped her hair off a few years ago to much success.  Mala started snipping. Very slow at first; she knew I was nervous. But the more conservative she stayed, the more I gained courage. I even started asking for it shorter. You’re all going to laugh because it honestly doesn’t look that much different but the empowerment it offered me was exhilarating. I was getting a free pass to be a new kind of woman. A woman who fears no change, who relishes in the opportunity to reinvent herself. I realize now that I want to be that woman even when this is all over. Turns out that it doesn’t matter if it comes in a bucket, falls from my head or doesn’t exist at all: “There ain’t no words for the beauty, the splendor, the wonder of my…

Hair, hair, hair, hair, hair, hair, hair”

Move over Halle and Jen; K-Rod is in town.

IMG_0014                                                           Ok, that wasn’t so bad

IMG_0017                                                        I mean, I couldn’t look more calm, am I right?

IMG_3361                                                                And I make it out alive!


IMG_7842                                                          With a little help from my friends







Chemo is a real snoozefest

Holy Smokes everyone! You can sure make a girl feel spectacular! The word “overwhelming” doesn’t even begin to describe what yesterday was for me. The outpouring of support and encouragement and compassion was all-encompassing. I struggled for a long time deciding whether I wanted to go public with such a private matter but hearing your stories has been the best affirmation that I made the right choice. I spent the day laughing, crying, sending up prayers for you all, and reading each and every comment you posted. I’m so inspired by your stories. Every time I read “I was 26…”, “…Diagnosed at 32”, “I have two beautiful children now”, “I love my new hair!” I felt the most powerful wind at my back, lifting me and surrounding me with so much comfort and excitement! “It’s a sorority nobody wants to join, but we got picked!” said Kristi in one of the comments. Ain’t that the truth! I’m so humbled to have you all as my “sisters”.

As you can see from the photo below, the “Couture” part of this blog is coming later. In fact, the next few posts will likely be more expository while I catch you all up on the details. My mind is racing with post ideas based on all your feedback, plus I’ve had many fashion people approach me over the last 24 hours so I’m over the moon about what beautiful things I’m going to get to try and share. But first, I’m going to unleash some of the posts I’ve already written. They’ll be coming pretty quick so I hope you’re ready! Besides, I can’t quite delve into my tips and fashion findings until I know what I’m up against with this treatment. But trust me, I’ve got big plans! So in the meantime, Chemo first, Couture to follow!chemo1

Here I am. Day one of my chemo journey.

“Are you nervous?”-asked the sweet, mild mannered nurse as she took me up the elevator.

“No, not really. I’m ready. Lets do this”- I replied.

“Cuz it’s ok to be nervous”

But I’m not. I’m ready. The truth is, I had been preparing for this moment for months and short of having war paint on my face, I couldn’t have been more poised to kick ass.

As I mentioned before, I spent a lot of energy trying to avoid chemo. In my particular case, my tumor is an estrogen receptor-positive tumor (H2-) which means it’s feeding on my own hormones. I also immediately did genetic counseling and am not a BRCA1, 2, or P53 carrier. No history in my family either but that’s not surprising since both my mother and father had all brothers, although breast cancer in men is possible as well.  Based on all these facts, the original plan my doctors cooked up was to put me into medically induced menopause and to eliminate estrogen from my body. The list of fears that a non-estrogen existence created was endless: was I gonna grow a beard? What about hot flashes, mood swings, weight gain? I’m telling you ladies, estrogen is an awesome thing. How was I supposed to live without it? Every woman of a certain age goes through it but very few do it in one day like I did. But I actually handled it very well and to be honest, I’m quite enjoying it. I’m more even-keeled without the monthly spike of hormones and I’m saving a ton of cash on tampons. I was able to continue to work, keep my hair, and still feel energized and healthy while feeling like I was saving my body some major stress.

The ultimate problem with this plan came a few months later when we realized it wasn’t working. Despite all my doctors telling me the tumor felt smaller, an MRI revealed the bugger hadn’t budged. I realize I failed to mention earlier that my carcinogenic roommate is a whopping 8cm. 8 by 6 by 5.5 to be exact. I have had barely A breasts my whole life so basically I have a boob inside my boob. Front to back and left to right. This was what made it difficult to diagnose since it just looked like extremely dense breast tissue. When people hear that it hasn’t spread to my lymph nodes they always say, “Oh I’m so glad they caught it early”. To which I wanna scream “THEY DIDN’T!”. I have been doing regular check ups since age 25 because of my cystic breast. I was having yearly ultrasounds because of two lumps that didn’t go away. Everyone dismissed them as cysts because no one is looking for breast cancer at that age.  When blood started coming out of my nipple they thought it was just clogged ducts. Even a mammogram was inconclusive. The only truth came from a biopsy. Turns out those lumps were tiny cysts resting on top of a giant beast. I don’t want any more women in their 2o’s or 30’s to have to wait to see blood to be able to get a proper diagnosis. You readers are now an army of proof that something has to change.

That all being said, it is a slow grower since it’s been living in me for around five years and hasn’t mutated and for that I am incredibly lucky. I’m grateful for so many aspects of how my tumor and treatment have played out and this is one of them. I have a slow enough growing tumor that we had time to experiment. So by the time the ultimate decision had to be made, I had been allowed months to fight and wrestle with the idea of what chemo would mean to me, to my future children, to my current body. I had time to spend Christmas with my family before everything changed. I had the smarts to book a last minute trip to Europe with my amazing and adorable boyfriend for a “Chemo-moon”, to enjoy each other before every conversation was going to be about nausea. And because of a delayed flight home, I literally landed at 4:30am, took a three hour nap, and rolled into my first chemo treatment like a rockstar after a bender. Just the way I wanted it.

So after months of basically having the Rocky theme song on loop in my head while I geared up for the fight of my life, you can imagine my surprise when the premeds they gave me knocked me out cold. I slept through the whole five hours. Can’t remember a thing. Thank goodness my mom was there to tell me what a total mess I am while drunk on chemo. Imagine every wisdom teeth video you’ve ever seen on Youtube and add in that I’m surrounded by about 30 people who are judging the new lightweight in the room. Like I said, the “couture” aspect is taking a serious hit at the moment. But never fear: the nurse told me my hair will be falling out in two weeks and to plan a haircut. Stay tuned! I’m coming at you with a new look. Just as soon as I wake up.



“It’s a whole long boob story…”

This is the phrase I find myself uttering often. A dear friend, a colleague, or the lady at the makeup counter at Macy’s have found themselves in a conversation about my boobs. It doesn’t always start that way: a simple “how are you?” is a tricky question to answer these days. So by the time I’ve said “oh just killin’ this cancer” I can see their well meaning eyes start to cross. They completely glaze over as I’m detailing my fertility treatments (aka The Great Harvest of 2014), and before you know it, I’m drawing lines around my boobs with my fingers describing my future scars like a pectoral Picasso.

So sometimes I bail. “Oh, it’s a whole long boob story…”. Because it is. On September 24, 2014 at age 30, I was diagnosed with stage 2B ductal carcinoma: in-situ and invasive. Fancy words for breast cancer. Now as far as cancer goes, I have the Cadillac of tumors. It’s slow growing, highly treatable and not really interested in spreading. My doctor calls it an “old lady cancer.” I always knew I was ahead of my time! Picture a lump sitting in a BarcaLounger eating Cheetos and enjoying the warm, cozy studio apartment I’ve been providing for it on Left Breast Lane. No one would want to leave that, am I right? Well, sorry buddy.  I’m the landlord from hell and it’s eviction time.

Which brings me to chemo. Let me be clear when I tell you I did NOT want to do chemo. I begged, coaxed and flirted with every doctor I have in an attempt to avoid this. There were vanity reasons, of course. I’m a Leo and we lions love our hair. But there are fertility reasons too. Chemo is basically an indiscriminate A-bomb that gets dropped in your body, nuking everything in its path, but I’ve got some eggs in there that I wasn’t quite ready to cook. So I put a couple of those suckers on ice (see aforementioned Great Harvest) as a back up plan. Ok, check! Now back to being vain!

There are many unknowns in chemo treatment. The side effects are gnarly but it wasn’t guaranteed that I would experience all of them. Except one. Hair loss. I’m an actress. I make my living with my appearance to some degree. So being confronted with the idea of my whole body changing has been a tough one. Oh, and for the record, telling me how beautiful Natalie Portman looked with a shaved head or sending me pics of a waify Anne Hathaway is not helping. They do not have cancer. They do not have the nausea, bone pain or paralysis. They are not struggling to feel like themselves at every moment of the day. They just look really good with a buzz cut.

Which leads me to the blog! I desire to feel as great as I can during this time. I still want to be sexy, to take risks, to challenge what even I view as beautiful. So I’m pulling out all the stops. This is not time to bust out a beanie and hide. I’m going to try to live as loudly as I can. Cancer is not just an old person’s game anymore. There are many young, vibrant and fashion loving women out there who want to look their best, even when we’re feeling like crap. On this blog, I’m going to share my beauty tips, fashion ideas and diet changes that have altered my life drastically. And I want your help. If you have ever been affected by cancer, tell me your tips! If you’re just interested in my journey, send a hello or a word of encouragement! But most of all, enjoy! 2015 is my year with cancer. Might as well make it a beautiful one!