Spa Pedicure at Utopia Salon & Day Spa in Hawley, PA

The best part of living in a tourist area (the Poconos), is that there are a lot of little gems waiting to be discovered. For me, this gem has been right in front of my face for 13 years. I've driven by Utopia Salon & Day Spa countless times, but Read more

Reflekt Facial Exfoliator Review

This luxury facial cleanser makes skin feel amazing! I've been using Reflekt Skincare for the last 6 weeks about 2-3 times per week. In the summer, a regular cleanser alone won't do the trick to thoroughly rid my skin of all the "gunk" that warmer weather brings when wearing makeup, Read more

Malia B Luv Perfume Review

Some of the best perfumes are made by indie brands. When I first began blogging in 2005, I came across perfumer, Sharon Bolton, and her amazing fragrances. For a few years she went off the radar, but I was so thrilled when she recently reached out with the relaunch as Read more

Erbaviva Organic Deodorant Review

Mention "organic deodorant" and you may get a few raised eyebrows combined with some skepticism. People often wonder - Does organic deodorant smell weird? Is it strong enough? What exactly is it made of? I'm going to be straight up honest, I've never tried organic deodorant before simply because I Read more

Dry Skin Solutions for Women Over 40

Sponsored by AmLactin Skin Care Check out the end of this post for a GIVEAWAY!   We all know that getting older comes with pros and cons. Older and wiser (that's a definite), knowing who you are and what you want... and then all those lovely skin issues. Dark spots, wrinkles, and other Read more

Philanthropy

Project: Beauty (Bloggers) for Good; A Domestic Violence Donation

Beauty Bloggers for GoodFor a while now beauty products have been piling up in my office, in my bathroom and in my garage. You see, when beauty companies and PR firms send me products to try out for a review, they often send multiple products. So maybe an entire hair care collection…but I only end up using the shampoo and conditioner, or 6 eye shadows…but I only really need to try out one to know if it’ll crease or how it looks. All of the extras find a way into a box and then my family likes to “shop” my office.

This year after reading Renee Rouleau’s post Beauty is Truly More Than Skin Deep about domestic violence and her ongoing initiative to donate unused or gently used beauty products to local shelters, I decided that I wanted to put those boxes of unused products to good use.  So I rounded up some of my beauty blogger friends who also committed to donating their unused products as well.

So this past week, my three oldest sons ages 11, 8 and 6, and I gathered 2 boxes packed full of beauty products and a bag with several pairs of unworn women’s shoes and brought them to a place here in Northeast PA called VIP (Victim’s Intervention Program.) VIP gives women and children of domestic violence and sexual assault free counseling, support groups, food pantry and emergency shelter. I asked my sons to carry in the boxes and explained to them why we were donating them. And it made an impact… Read more

Posted on by Shannon Smyth in beauty, Philanthropy 2 Comments

And the Winner of Mom: Get Glamorous is…

mom_get_glamorous_winnerCongratulations Gerry! Your daughter Jessica submitted an entry to Mom: Get Glamorous to nominate you for being the amazing mom you are! You have won $3170 worth of beauty and fashion products!

Name: Gerry Morrison
Age: 50
Children: Jessica (25), Jarrod (24), Jayson (23)
State: Louisiana

I’d love to tell you about my amazing mom. She’s the strongest woman I know and it’s for all the reasons on top of raising 3 grown kids, numerous pets and my dad! My mom is a primary care doctor. But she hasn’t always been. When I was small, she was the first diver hired on by the Aquarium in New Orleans when it opened in 1991. How cool is that? I got to go to the aquarium, point at the diver in the tank and say “That’s my MOM!”  Read more

Posted on by Shannon Smyth in beauty, giveaway, Philanthropy 5 Comments

Mom Get Glamorous Contest Winner!

I’m sure you will agree—this mom deserves the prize hands down.

Name: Jo Coiner Burzycki
Age: 32
Location: New Mexico
Kids: 3

Finding Strength:

When I look back to my life almost three years ago and think about all the things I would let get to me, I can’t help but laugh at myself. Simple things would make me yell, “My life stinks!” and it was never over anything important either. Just the usual daily stuff that we all complain about.

Then my whole life was turned upside down. It all started in September 2004 when our new family doctor noticed a large lump in my throat and asked me about it. He felt it was definitely a big deal immediately ordering blood tests and an ultrasound on my neck.

The ultrasound found four nodules on my thyroid and two weeks later I had a fine needle biopsy done. Shortly after that I had my results- medullary thyroid cancer. It’s a rare form of thyroid cancer that leads to testing for a rare genetic disorder. Three weeks later those results came back and I was diagnosed with Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia Type 2a or MEN2a as it’s known.

You would think the bottom would fall out on my world and I would completely collapse in a puddle of tears at that point. I mean here I am not even thirty years old, I’m told I have cancer, plus a genetic disorder that causes MORE cancer. It honestly set me back on my heels but once I found out I wasn’t going to die within the next 6 months, I knew everything would be okay. Sure I cried some but then I wiped the tears and went on with life. I knew I needed to because I’m the Mommy and I had to be strong for my kids.

Immediately after my diagnosis we determined that my three children needed to be tested for MEN2a as well since it’s genetic. You see, each child of a person with this disorder has a 50% chance of having it as well. So blood was drawn on all three kids, we crossed our fingers as we waited, and almost a month later we had our results.

That is when my world felt like it was coming apart. It’s one thing to be told that you have cancer and will have to deal with it for the rest of your life but your babies? How can these perfect little people who are your whole world have to deal with this too? I prayed nightly that some miracle would happen and all three children would come back negative but I knew in my heart that our chances were very slim. One, two, and likely all three would have this. Then what would we do?

I remember the day the endocrinologist gave me the news like it was yesterday. Her exact words were “Your little one, Aidan, he came back negative” then tears started forming in her eyes and her voice broke “but your other two children tested positive, so they have this and will have to be tested and watched for the cancers”. She cried some then hugged me telling me how sorry she was. Did I cry? Only a few tears then I straightened up and in my mind all I could think was “I’ll be strong because I’m the Mom and I just have to be. They need me”.

In January 2005, I had my first surgery removing my adrenal glands and the adrenal cancer. This put me on steroid replacement for life. Two months before my 30th birthday and I was a cancer survivor from one cancer and starting a battle with another one.

On March 30th, my oldest children both had thyroidectomies. We hoped that we were getting a jump on the medullary cancer before it could start but after surgery we found that the cancer had already started in both of them. My two amazing children were now cancer survivors at almost fourteen and ten. We got the cancer in time and they will never have to worry about it again. They will take thyroid hormone replacement for the rest of their lives but this nasty little cancer that chemo doesn’t touch will not get them a second time.

Two months later I had another surgery to remove my thyroid (and any cancer there), three parathyroids, and any lymph nodes in my neck and shoulders that we could find to clean out as much medullary cancer as we could. This left me with a U-shaped scar that covers most of my neck and thyroid hormone replacement for good. When you think of what I had going in and what I traded it for, I think I’ve made out pretty well and feel proud of these “battle scars”.

We didn’t get all of the medullary cancer in time but I don’t worry about it. I know I have at least 5 to 10 years with my children (if not more) and that is more than a lot of people with cancer get. I’ll take any time I’m given and be more than happy with it because it means I get to watch my babies grow. I wouldn’t miss that for the world.

The way I act and live with this disorder sets an example for how my oldest two children will live their lives with it. Knowing that, how could I ever possibly do anything other than be strong? I will be strong because it shows them how to be strong. I will have hope because it means they will face this with hope as well. I will love life because in turn they will learn to love life too and if they are anything like their mother, they will remember to laugh even when things get hard.

I may be a mom living with cancer but when it comes right down to it, I’m just a mom… living. I choose to fight for life and live it in the best way I can.

Posted on by Shannon Smyth in giveaway, Philanthropy 15 Comments