What to Wear to an MRI

What to Wear | MRI

Just a few days after that dreaded call from my surgeon telling me that the cyst aspirate which was supposed to be nothing was, in fact, cancer, I went to the hospital for my very first MRI. Besides the whole cancer thing, I’m very healthy, and I’ve never had a broken bone, so I’d never even contemplated the idea of having and MRI.  I talked to the people from nuclear medicine and was sure to follow their instructions and get there plenty early, doctor’s order in hand.  My surgeon asked if I wanted her to write a script for Xanax, but since I’d never had a problem with claustrophobia, I assured her I’d be fine.

I showed up wearing my favorite white jeans and a pair of high heeled gladiator sandals.  Sally and I were going out to lunch after that, and I wanted to feel good about how I looked.  (My hair looked great, too.  I can remember so many people telling me how beautiful my hair looked. I know they were being nice.  But salt in the wound, ok, people?)

Anyway, I should have thought it through a little better.  An MRI is basically a giant magnet that they stick you into, so of course, you can’t wear jeans with all the metal rivets and zipper inside.  I put on a hospital gown and walked barefoot to the exam room.  It gets pretty cold in the exam room, so they wrapped me up like a burrito in warm flannel sheets. My husband (and probably my college roommates!) will tell you that I like it to be cold when I sleep, I’m a shorts and a tee year round kind of girl. The idea of flannel sheets that have been warmed and then tucked in all around me just makes me shudder. Ick. I don’t know why I didn’t say something from the start.  For a breast MRI, you lay on your stomach with your arms Superman style ahead of you, so the kind nurse wrapped them up, too. And it’s super loud, so they stick in ear plugs.  Then they back you into the tiny tube.  At which point I had my first major freak out.  I’m pretty sure I was hyperventilating, and this usually unflappable gal had to make the technician extract her from the tube post haste. After a few tears and many apologies, I finally convinced them that I could not go back in the tube all wrapped up like that.  So we took off nearly all the blankets (maybe every last one), I took a deep breath, said a quick but fervent prayer, and back in I went.  I did relatively well, though by the end of the nearly 40 minute exam, I started to get pretty cold, and was scared to death that my shivering was going to mess up the part when they add contrast, which is “the most critical part” for which you must lay absolutely still.  The thought of doing it all again the next day was enough to keep the shivering pretty much at bay, and I managed to get through it.

The next time I went in for an MRI, I was much more prepared.  See, if you wear stretchy pants with no metal parts and socks, you get to leave them on! If I had to go back tomorrow, (which I don’t, for the record) I’d be wearing my fave yoga pants*, a shirt that reminds me I’m strong, and some happy socks.  (I don’t own these socks, but if I have to go back in that tube, I think I deserve to be wearing a pair of socks whose brand is Happy Socks.) Dressed all casual and comfy like that, Dior Addict Lip Glow is the way to go– more of a lip balm that looks like my natural lip color, only better.

Oh, and I forgot to include one thing in the picture.  The Xanax.  If a doctor ever offers you Xanax, you go ahead and take it.  My second MRI was so much better, and I’m sure the pants and the socks helped.  But also, the Xanax.

*These pants are on sale right now, and I’m fighting the urge to stock up.  Seriously, they’re worth every penny.

More on the Hair: The Fauxhawk


Seems like it’s gotten a little deep here on the blog, so naturally we should head back to hair and makeup, right? I went in for a haircut last week. Now for a brief digression, I am attempting to grow out my hair.  But yes, I keep getting it cut. We’re letting the top grow out before I start letting the sides and back grow out so I don’t spend too long looking all shaggy and fuzzy.

Anyway, after he cut it last week, Dragan was starting to style my hair and mentioned that it’s probably long enough for a mohawk. “OK, let’s see it,” I quickly answered. I’m not sure he expected me to let him do it, and I really don’t think he expected me to leave with my hair all standing up like that.  But honestly, I kind of like it.

There is one big caveat with the fauxhawk, though. It turns out there is a thin line between me looking like an edgy version of me and me looking like Justin Bieber. (yikes.) And that fine line is good makeup and lipstick. Without makeup and a bold or bright lip, I end up looking an awful lot like Justin Bieber, and that’s just not ok. But I do like the hair. So bring on the hair product. But also the lipstick.

Lipstick: Buxom Full-On Lip in Havana

In Case You Missed It | Alexandria Stylebook

In case you missed it, I did a guest post last week at Alexandria Stylebook.  I got to play dress up with such nice clothes, lovely jewelry, and fabulous shoes.  After shopping at Zoe Boutique, Kiskadee, and The Shoe Hive, I met with Allison at Bellacara to have my make up done before heading to a studio photo shoot with Sally.

alexandria stylebook run lipstick chemo

I had the opportunity to share my story with a new group of people and talk about why lipstick (and taking time to look my best) was so important to me, and it was such a fun day, too.  Many thanks to the ladies at Alexandria Stylebook!  Head there to read my post.

The Power of Lipstick

This weekend an article on the transforming power of lipstick popped up on twitter, and of course, I had to read it immediately! The author was in a rush out the door, but stopped to quickly apply some lipstick and was amazed at how much better she felt about how she looked.  She polled some of her blogger friends, including my friend Maria Jose, the Very Busy Mama, on their favorite transforming lipstick. It’s been pretty important to how I feel about how I look, so I wanted to add my own homage to the transforming power of lipstick.

As I read, I had a hard time thinking of a single favorite lipstick.  I re-read the post, and the word transforming sort of jumped off the page, and then I knew.  Of course, my mainstay through chemo, the lipstick that went on after I tied a scarf around my bald head to announce to the world that I was the healthiest cancer patient they’d ever seen: Dubonnet by MAC.  Now that’s a transforming lipstick.


Photography by Sally Brewer Photography

Lipstick: Dubbonet by MAC

Summer fun trumps surgery


It’s summer time, and that means swim lessons, VBS, and fun with friends.  Last week, it meant all three, all before noon.  Busy times!  Turner and I managed to squeeze in some fun with my phone while Emma Clare was in swim lessons.  We thought I should show off my new hairstyle, flipped up in the front.  Big news, huh?

If it weren’t for all the summer fun (and heat and humidity), I could be going in for surgery this week.  It’s been six weeks since I last saw the plastic surgeon, and so my skin has healed enough for me to have my final surgery.  I’m definitely ready– this phase of the reconstruction, while not painful, is certainly uncomfortable.  Plus, I’m so eager just to be finished.  I’ll still have another minor procedure or two after that, but for the most part, that surgery signals the beginning of the end of all of this.  Unfortunately, that surgery also signifies the beginning of four weeks in compression gear, not so friendly for a hot, sticky DC August.  Or trips to the pool with my two new swimmers.

And so I’ll wait until school starts before I head back to the familiar turf of the outpatient surgery center at Virginia Hospital Center.  But I’m not waiting long, because I’m ready.  Ready to be finished with all this.

Lipstick: Fuchsia Flash by Smashbox

Mascara and my baby lashes

Maybe we should call this beauty week! My lashes are definitely not as full and long as they were two weeks ago. I don’t think they’re completely falling out. I think it’s more part of a natural cycle, but since they all grew in at the same time, they’re all falling out and replenishing at the same time. So I’m forgoing the false lashes for now, but mascara is über important. My favorite are the tubing mascaras– they really do help lengthen the lashes I have, plus they’re waterproof but easy to wash off. The Trish McEvoy and Blinc are the same formula, but I like the skinny Trish wand the best. I’m not sure about the formula of the L’Oreal, but it’s a good drugstore alternative. Trish and Blinc both sell a primer, too, but I like that the L’Oreal comes with the primer. In the interest of fiscal responsibility, that’s what’s in my bag now. And while I’m using so much of it (several layers builds up the super short ones!) I think the bargain is a good call.

Not again…



Just did my makeup in preparation for a dinner out with family, and noticed something for the second time.  Have you ever noticed that the first time you see something you don’t love, you try to overlook it– maybe it will go away?  I’m pretty sure I do that.  I seem to remember thinking before when I put on mascara that there was an area of lashes on my left eye that was getting sparse.  I had just been thinking how long my lashes had gotten, that they were better than they ever were pre-chemo.  So the right eye is still pretty great, but there’s that area that’s a little thin on the other side.  I’m still crossing my fingers that it’s completely normal and I’m just being hyper-sensitive, but I’m a little worried that maybe there’s another round to fall out.  Seems unlikely, but the first time they fell out wasn’t until I’d been done with chemo for nearly six weeks, so it’s hard to say.  I’m not looking forward to doing the false eyelashes on a daily basis again, but at least I’ve got some practice, and this pair from Sonia Kashuk did the job without being too spendy.

Here’s hoping I’m just overreacting.  Stay tuned for further updates as events warrant…

Warrior Spirit


The day I had my head shaved, it was cool, so I wore this leather jacket. When I donned my soon to be favorite scarf, I realized that I had a bit of a bad-girl biker chick look going on.  And I liked it!  As soon as I put the scarf on, Sally and I knew that we’d need pictures of that look!


Upon seeing the pictures from that day, one friend commented that I looked like a warrior, ready to head into battle.  I liked that analogy, and somehow “warrior” got attached to this photo in my mind, too.  More than one friend who’s gone through breast cancer has commented that she never wanted to go out without her wig, fearing that she would look weak, sick.  That people would pity her.  I’m sure some people pitied me, but they never treated me like that.  I told these friends that I always felt like it showed strength to put on a scarf, some good lipstick, and a smile.  And now with more hair and little air of “sickness” to me, I think I’ve never looked stronger than in these pictures.  (Many thanks again to Sally for capturing such lasting images of strength.)


Photography by Sally Brewer Photography

Lipstick: Dubbonet by MAC

Just Me


Before we headed out on our photo shoot a couple of weeks ago, I was looking around on pinterest for some things to put on my Run Lipstick Chemo pinboard.  I stumbled across some photos of a woman photographed just after she finished chemo.  She was wearing a plain grey t-shirt and looked so casual and contemplative in the pictures.  They were lovely.  So instead of showing up for pictures in one of the lovely silk blouses I’d chosen originally (which of course, we did photograph eventually), I showed up in a plain grey tank top and my favorite yoga pants.  I’d have never thought of being photographed in something so plain, but it turns out, I really loved the way all these pictures turned out.  It was so hard to only show a few.


The other thing that surprised me about these photos—I’m not at all self-conscious of how I look, despite the fact that I was not even all the way through the first stage of reconstruction.  It’s a long process, but I have to say that my surgeon is not only very compassionate, but wants to make sure that I’m pleased with how I look every step of the way.  He made it very clear from our first meeting that he didn’t want me to feel like this was how I had to look because I had breast cancer, or even that I looked “good enough” for having had cancer.  He wanted me to be happy with how I looked.  Period.


In those pictures I saw on pinterest, the woman still had her port in.  Why didn’t I have any pictures of my port?  I can’t believe it!  I told Sally that I didn’t want her to photoshop out my port scar, even still, you really can hardly see it in most of the pictures.  Thankfully, it’s pretty prominent in one of my favorite shots.  I like that I don’t have on fancy clothes or statement jewelry.  These pictures are just me, scars and all.  And that’s not good enough.  It’s just good.


Photography by Sally Brewer Photography

Lipstick: Dior Addict Lip Glow

Bracelet: Choose Joy by lilblueboo

Little Rewards


I’m a big fan of rewarding myself—I’ll frequently set little goals with little rewards for completion.  When I was trying to get into the habit of running, I didn’t really have any running gear, so my first real running clothes weren’t purchased until I’d run three times a week for six weeks straight.  Things like weekly mileage or a longer “long run” earned me more. A couple of weeks before my surgery, Sally and I stopped in Zoe Boutique after our run.  Our friend, Susan, owns the shop, and we’ve become friends with the manager, Tara, too, so we love stopping in anytime we’re in the neighborhood.  They were getting ready for the annual Old Town Warehouse Sale, and looking through the racks they were preparing to take along, I saw it.  My mastectomy reward.


One of the lesser know “perks” of reconstruction is the ability to wear backless or sheer-backed tops without worrying about pesky straps.  I would never have considered this lovely blue Alice and Trixie top before, but I decided to try it on.  I loved it, and I bought it.  Because I could.  I was excited to wear it last week when Sally took some photos of me, and since we were using Zoe Boutique as our “home base” while we took pictures around Old Town, we decided to do a few outside our favorite old town shop!


Lipstick: Funny Face by Nars