Tuesday, July 29, 2014

A little update.....




The amount of support and well wishes I have received over the past few days has been utterly incredible.  I cannot thank each and every one of you enough for the support, kind words and compassion.

I am having surgery tomorrow at 9am Dubai time and will be in the operating theatre for about 4 hours.  My mum will be flying into Dubai on Thursday and I literally can't wait to see her.

I've had all my pre-op appointments and met the anaesthetist again.  I'm now on my pre-op meds and pretty much ready.

The reason I have been so open about this is because I strongly believe it could have been prevented.  I was ridiculously stupid and hadn't had a smear test for years-and there is absolutely no excuse.  My aim is simple-if you're of the age where you can get a smear test in your country, and it's overdue then please just book and appointment.  I actually dread to think what would have happened to me if my doctor hadn't forced me to go and see the gynecologist after my urine test results following my 'kidney infection'.  I also ignored another indication that something wasn't right.  I was bleeding between periods when I went for a wee.  I put it down again to a UTI, especially as my doctor mentioned once to me in an appointment that 'I seemed to be pre-disposed to UTI's when I was stressed.'

I want to say a special thank you to Gemma from Miss Makeup Magpie.  I knew that I would need quite a lot of rest and recuperation after the operation and was just planning a little blogging break but Gemma contacted me and asked me if I would like her to speak to a few of our mutual blogging friends and arrange some guest posts for my blog over the coming couple of weeks.  Everyone Gemma contacted has said yes and I am blown away by the support from everyone.  There are some amazing girls who are going to be guest posting over the next couple of weeks and I am so grateful.  I'll leave the 'who' as a surprise but you'll love them all as much as I do.

So Gemma will be taking over the reins here at Expat Make Up Addict for around 3 weeks, she will be scheduling and publishing all the guest posts and tweeting the links from her twitter so go and follow!  Please do support my guest posters, I am so grateful they have taken the time to help me.

I know in my last post I said it was hard because I needed a hug but I really feel so loved and protected at the moment which might sound a little strange but I feel like you've all got my back!

Don't forget to follow @TeamStace for updates on my progress as and when I can.

Enjoy the guest posts!




Sunday, July 27, 2014

Heathrow haul


Let's forget about the big 'C' word for the moment and go back to what I do best-shopping!!  I am going to be honest, if I were to do haul posts to cover everything I bought on my recent trip to London it would be ridiculous-but it's fair to say I had the best time ever and there is plenty of material for my blog!

This is my Duty Free haul-the bits I treated myself to on the way home to Dubai.


First up, two lipsticks-Tom Ford Casablanca which had never interested me before until I saw some gorgeous swatches of it online recently and Dior Rouge Dior 663 Guipure.  Tom Ford and Dior Rouge Dior are possibly my favourite lipstick formulas in the world.


The Origins Ginzing moisturiser is a repurchase-I recently finished my pot and I loved it so much.  It's the perfect light, cooling, hydrating pot of goodness that doesn't clog pores and is great for hot and humid environments.

I have a little love affair with Jurlique at the moment after trying a couple of their products and I picked up this calming mist as a hydrating toner.  I don't suffer too much from redness but my skin can be a little sensitive at times and I also think this would be a great pick me up whilst travelling-and also whilst I am in the hospital this week.

I wanted to pick up the Clarins Exfoliating Toner which I love, but it was out of stock so I thought I might try this Clarins Daily Energizer Wake Up Booster hydrating toner.  Clarins do amazing skincare and I don't think I have tried anything from them I haven't liked.


I've been on the cleansing balm bandwagon for over a year now but I wanted to try something lighter for summer-in the form of an oil-as long as it doesn't have mineral oil in it (which isn't as easy as it sounds).  I picked up two to try as my first evening cleanse, the one where I remove all my make up.

The first is from Origins and I am sure I have used this before and that it smells great.  The second was the Decleor Micellar Oil.  I also picked up and Origins lip balm-although I seem to have about 20 lip balms at the moment!



I had a bit of a splurge at SKII picking up their moisturising undereye mask-they're quite expensive but actually one of the cheapest on the market of high end eye masks given that you get 14 in the pack.  I also picked up their raved about Facial Treatment Essence which seems to me to be a hydrating toner although the sales assistant said it wasn't!  But the way she described it to me (balances skins PH, prepares skin for the next layer of skincare) made me think it is!


In the MAC concession I picked up yet another 217 and 239 brush-I swear I collect these but they're my absolute favourites for applying eyeshadow.  The 239 is the perfect brush for packing eyeshadow on the lid and the 239 is perfect for blending.  I shun all my other brushes for these babies daily.  I also got the limited edition duo fibre 132 brush which I haven't worked out what I will use it for yet-I am thinking under eye concealer, although MAC say its a foundation brush.  I also picked up a replacement 'Phloof' eyeshadow which is the perfect brightening pinky neutral shade that I recently finished up and a Prep and Prime Highlighter in Light Boost.  I have read such good things about this under eye highlighter that I can't wait to use it!

Lastly I picked up another Jo Malone candle which is in the first picture but I forgot to photograph again!  I have got a little addition to Jo Malone candles at the moment, they burn so cleanly and smell amazing.  I am currently burning Sweet Almond and Macaroon at home which is candle perfection and I love it so much!  I want to immediately repurchase it!  At the airport I picked up English Pear and Freesia, lovely for summer.  Wild Jasmine and Mint and Orange Blossom are definitely next on my wish list



Friday, July 25, 2014

The Curveball



Saturday 19th July

My boss Nick is one of the most incredible people I have ever met-both personally and professionally.  He has that amazing gift for finding the positive in every situation-but not in that horrible patronising 'Oh well it could be worse' manner, but in a way that makes you feel that 'you know what, everything is going to be ok' kind of way.

At an impromptu team meeting last Tuesday morning, Nick helped me explain to my colleagues that I had indeed received a curveball the previous evening.   I will never forget the compassion he showed me that day and have no doubt he will continue to show me.

I am writing this post on Saturday 19th July, hoping and praying I actually never have to actually post it.

On Monday 14th July, Mike and I met with my doctor for the results of my recent biopsy and he told me I have cancer.

Cervical cancer.  Which had also spread to my lymph nodes.

The doctor gave me a copy of the biopsy report, which I looked at and didn't really understand-except for the frequent repetition of the word 'carcinoma'. 

The shock has been paralaysing at times over the past week.  My mum was the first person we told.  I couldn't skype her because I couldn't bear for her to see me upset and I couldn't bear to see her heartbreak when I told her I had cancer.  So we did it on speakerphone, Mike and I trying to remember everything the doctor told us, a call pierced by the odd sob by me not really comprehending what was happening.

I then told two of my best friends-Danielle and Sylvia.  The call to Danielle was almost hysterical at times.  I sobbed whilst she comforted me 3500 miles away.  It was a more sombre call to Sylvia, I was tired and drained by that time.  I then just composed and sent a whatsapp message to some of my closest friends, turned my phone off and went to bed.

The next morning I asked Mike to come to work with me so I could tell Nick.  I figured if I got upset it would be easier for Mike to comfort me than Nick.  I have a brilliant relationship with Nick but crying in front of your boss is always awkward.  We met in Costa, I wanted to be away from the actual office.  Nick was of course brilliant and helped me tell me colleagues who have also been brilliant.  In fact everyone who I work with has been amazing-the two most senior guys in our business both called me personally on Tuesday night to offer their support even though one of them was on holiday in the US.  Aqil, our director here in Dubai has been incredible, everyone has bent over backwards for me.  I am incredibly grateful.

I met with BUPA last Thursday who again were amazing.  I drew a lot of comfort from that meeting in terms of the financial costs of cancer treatment in Dubai.

I'm on autopilot.  Keep thinking to myself 'this MUST be a mistake, a horrible horrible mix up'.

Tomorrow (Sunday) I am going for an MRI scan and a PET scan which will be sent back to my doctor for him to assess the grade/stage of the cancer.  In our meeting on Monday he said that he felt he would have to remove my lymph nodes going up towards my kidneys and was 80% sure he would have to remove my cervix and uterus in full.  And possibly some of my vagina.  I might need chemo.  I might lose some nerve sensation.  He has a 90% survival rate amongst his patients with this type of cancer.  He was saying all the words and I was nodding and writing them all down on the back of an envelope saying 'I need to remember to tell my mum', but not really believing this was happening.

I guess it will take a couple of days for my doctor to get the report and review it before we meet him again.  And I will continue to work until I have the results.  It's Ramadan here and then the Eid holidays next week so that may delay any surgery-if it turns out I need it.  I am sure, sure, sure that I won't-that this is a mistake.  I'm 34 with no history of this type of cancer in my family-why is this happening to me?

Am sure some of you might be questioning why I am not coming back to the UK-it's an option given my medical insurance but my Doctor here is amazing, I want to be at home with my things around me and Mike and my cats.

Everything is happening fast.  But the waiting is killing me.  I am either absolutely fine and positive.  Or absolutely petrified but still smiling.  And a range of feelings in between.  You need to be quick to keep up with my emotions at the moment.

Everyone who I have told has said 'stay positive'.  I purposely hadn't looked online at ANYTHING.  Self diagnosis is always dangerous.  I didn't even know what my lymph nodes are.  Until last night.  I got the report out and googled some of the terms.  It wasn't positive news and I could feel the panic rising in my throat and I lay on the bed and sobbed for the first time since Monday evening.

So, everything lies on the MRI tomorrow.  I have almost convinced myself it will be totally fine but I just want to know.

I have had some absolutely incredible support from my friends in the UK this week.  I don't want to name names because I am bound to forget someone but you will know who you are.  I have also had some incredibly touching support from people who were virtually strangers.  And zero support from some people I would have expected it from.  I still haven't told everyone, am kind of holding off until I know this is for real.

But it's these things that make me realise how hard it is to be away from family and friends.  Since Monday only two people have actually given me a hug and said it's going to be ok-Mike and Nick.  Everyone is sending virtual hugs and love and by no means is this a criticism, just an observation.  If the surgery does go ahead my mum will be coming out but if I could transport all the people who have supported me to Dubai for daily cake, pop and giggles I would in an instant.

Sunday 20th July

I had the MRI scan today, pelvis and abdomen with and without contrast solution so that meant yet another cannula in my hand and yet another green and yellow bruise.  I'm not scared of needles really but I have had numerous blood tests and cannulas over the past two weeks and am a bit like a pin cushion.

I was in the MRI for an hour and a half-I hadn't appreciated how small and how noisy it was.  It was like a cross between being in a very bad techno disco and Dubai Marina 10 years ago when it was a construction site.  Admittedly I did freak out for the first minute but I settled into it and the only real problem was the heat of the camera things they drape across you and a numb bum.  And I kept getting told off for twitching my feet.

When I went I had to sign some insurance forms and I noticed the diagnosis was 'cervical carcinoma'.  That bloody word again.

I feel really anxious about my results getting mixed up with someone elses and am just absolutely desperate for answers now.

I am really really careful not to let my thoughts run away with me at the moment because when they do I just start to panic and think the most random thing.  When the girl in the Nespresso store casually said 'see you soon' as I was leaving I couldn't help thinking 'will you?'.

24th July

Mike and I went back to the doctor yesterday and got the MRI results.  They confirm his initial diagnosis.  To cut a long story short in the next week I will be having a radical hysterectomy and my lymph nodes around my kidneys removed.  After that, my doctor will confirm if I need chemo/radiotherapy, but seems confident surgery will be successful.

I don't know how I feel or what I want to hear even though I have had unbelievable support.  Everything seems relatively positive but I have obviously had certain decisions taken away from me-I'll never have a child of my own.  My mum and dad have been utterly truly amazing and my mum is flying out on Thursday by which time I should have had the surgery but still be in hospital.  She's apparently going to learn to bake-god help us all.  But seriously I will never be able to thank my parents enough for what they do for me.

Whilst I am sure I will be ok, I am not sure what the future holds or what the future of this blog is in the short term.  I have always been a very honest and open person hence the reason for posting this but this won't become a cancer blog.  People come here to read about make up, not cancer.

I have a few draft posts for my blog I might continue to post over the next few days but once they run out I think there might be a little break.

I have been keeping in touch with people via whatsapp mainly and if you would like to keep in touch please message me for my number.  I'll try and keep tweeting and instagramming (I am so obsessed with instagram) and have actually set up a new twitter account called @teamstace that I might tweet my progress from rather than my @expatmuaddict account.  Feel free to follow!

When I posted about my initial operation 1) I never ever ever thought it would get to this, I just wanted to highlight the importance of having regular smear tests but 2) I was so happy people actually booked overdue smears after reading it.  That honestly made my day.





Thursday, July 24, 2014

What's in my best friends make up bag?


I am sure if you're a regular reader of my blog or follow me on twitter/instagram you will have seen me mention my best friend Danielle.  We met in Dubai almost 10 years ago when we both worked for the same company and although she is now back in London we whatsapp every day.

Danielle is the one person in the whole world I am silliest with.  I have had the most fun with Danielle-we have had numerous holidays together and we just laugh all the time.

She is also the most stylish person I have ever met-I love the way she dresses and puts outfits together, even her penchant for Victorias Secret tracksuits when she is at home.  And don't even get me started on her shoes......

She is great.  And it's times like this I almost wish I did Youtube because this would have been a hilarious video to film.

I recently spent a couple of days with Danielle in London and was desperate to peek inside her make up bag.  We're SO bad when we're together in terms of enabling each other-the trouble is her enabling me to buy a Givenchy Antigona handbag is a lot more expensive than me enabling her to buy a Nars lipgloss!  But I digress....her make up collection has definitely grown since I started blogging!

Here's what's in her make up bag and why it's made the cut.  And she says the word 'lush'-a lot!  And a lot of the answers to my questions 'why did you buy that?' resulted in the answer 'because you did'.


The bases

There are currently two foundations in her make up bag-the YSL Le Teint Touche Eclat and the Maybelline Dream Matte Mousse.  Danielle has perfect skin and until recently didn't wear (didn't need to wear) foundation.  She is favouring the YSL foundation saying it's really light on the skin and doesn't feel like its clogging her pores.  She feels it smoothes out her skin tone and smells nice (first time I have ever heard that about a foundation...)  She applies it with a Real Techniques Expert Face Brush.

The Smashbox primer is a long time repurchase item, again Dani says its lush and that it feels light on her skin and smoothes out her complexion.


I bought Danielle the Charlotte Tilbury Colour Chameleon eye pencil in Champagne Diamonds when they first launched and she loved it and has gone on to buy 3 more, most recently picking up Black Diamond.  Dani says 'I like it because it welds to your skin and it lasts all day and all night.  And for a week after'  She did concede its quite hard to remove which was pretty much what I said when I reviewed Champagne Diamonds here.


I recently woke up to a whatsapp message saying 'how do I apply cream blush?' meaning the Chanel creme blush in Inspiration must have been a recent purchase.  I have had one of these blushers and I told her to use a Real Techniques Stippling Brush or fingers.  Dani says the formula is foolproof to use and I have to agree.  This soft coral-y pink is beautiful on her skintone.

MAC Silver Ring is her go to 'evening out' shadow when she wants to switch from the fairly neutral eyeshadows she wears during the day to something more smoky.


The Dior shimmer powder in Rose Diamond is the product I most wish I owned!  Now sadly discontinued, Dani uses this as her summer blusher-mainly using the right side of the palette.  She says she isn't really a fan of the Dior packaging (say what?), saying it reminds her of her granny's make up compacts when Dani was a little girl and is old fashioned.


Her concealer of choice is the YSL Touche Eclat, here in gorgeous limited edition packaging.  She said it's her favourite thing ever for concealing under eye bags.

The Smashbox lid primer is something I have known Dani use for years-in fact she had FOUR back ups (although she gave me one).  She says it's something she repurchases over and over.

There were two mascaras in her make up bag-a sample of the Givenchy Noir Couture (woke up to a whatsapp one morning saying 'why does the mascara wand have bobbles on it?) and the Chanel Le Volume De Chanel which she says is 'just ok'.  She finds it congeals quite easily and its difficult to use on both the top and bottom lashes.

She told me her all time favourite mascara is the YSL Dramatic Effects mascara which she says she has used for about 15 years.  I definitely need to check it out!  Dani's been getting lash extensions for the past year as her lashes are very very blonde so the falsies give her loads of definition.


The Marc Jacobs 'The Lolita' palette was part of Dani's Xmas gift from me last Xmas and I couldn't believe how much she had used it!!  She says she really likes the formula apart from the middle colour which is very gritty and that assessment is a common criticism across bloggers who have reviewed this palette-including me.


The Urban Decay Naked 2 palette is a relatively new addition but she is finding it a bit too shimmery and 'a bit too jazzy for work'.  I need to convince her otherwise as this is one of my all time faves!


Some random items-a packet of the Models Own eyeshadow applicators which she loves because she says it makes packing eyeshadow onto the lid really easy, and because the applicators absorb a little of the shadow it stops the eyeshadow spraying everywhere.

She uses the mini Hourglass Kabuki to apply her blusher.  This is a seriously soft brush that I also own.

Dani says she bought the tweezers because they were pink.


Dani uses the Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder in Mood Light as her setting powder.  As she has relatively dry skin that never gets shiny this just adds an overall soft glow.  She's almost at pan so it must be a hit!


Dani has the most lovely set of Chanel brushes-here is a selection of them laid out and they're something I definitely want to have a look at as they feel so nice!  She uses them for foundation, blusher and bronzer. 


The NARS lip gloss (old formula) doesn't get top marks unfortunately-Dani says its very very sticky (whilst making a pouting fish face at me) and she doesn't like the formula.  The Kiehls lip balm fairs better-she says its not sticky and makes her lips soft.  


The one thing I have been trying to get Dani to STOP doing is using face wipes!  She says she only uses them now to remove her eye make up but I think I have finally cracked her because yesterday she whatsapped me a picture of a Chanel eye makeup remover that she says is fabulous.


Her handbag staples are the Vaseline Pink Bubbly tin and the NARS Turkish Delight lip gloss.  She is constantly applying the vaseline because her office really dries her lips out so she likes to feel something quite 'wet' on her lips to keep them hydrated.

She also conceded that she doesn't own any lipsticks and can't remember the last time she wore one!!

The recent purchases......

 


Dani's most recent purchases are the NARS Soft Touch Eyeshadow Pencil in 'Iraklion' from the Adult Swim collection (I bought one too), the Chanel Les Beiges Healthy Glow powder and the Becca The One Perfecting Brush-am waiting with baited breath to hear her thoughts!  We also both bought a Nars contour palette and Dani has had a recent splurge on Chanel eyeshadows.

I love chatting all things everything with Dani, she is a huge part of my life even though she is 3500 miles away and I can't wait for all our next adventures





Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Lipstick Queen Velvet Rope lipsticks-Brat Pack and Star System






This review has been a long time coming.  One of those things I kept meaning to do but never got round to-I took the photographs ages ago (and yes I dropped Brat Pack whilst photographing them and put a big dent in the top) but didn't actually get round to testing the lipsticks until this week!

So, these are the Lipstick Queen Velvet Rope lipsticks-possibly the most expensive lipsticks I have ever bought given they are £35 each.  Wowzers.

Lets talk packaging.  Beautiful.  Heavy gold column casing with Lipstick Queen engraved on the top of the lid, inspired by old school Hollywood glamour.

I bought these when I was going through my 'find my perfect nude' phase last year and was initially attracted to Star System.   But the girl in Space NK was wearing Brat Pack and it looked so good I succumbed.

The formula of these lipsticks are amazingly creamy and long lasting on the lips.  Especially Brat Pack-it's one of the nicest reds I own and paired with MAC Redd lipliner it lasts almost all day.

Star System is a caramel toned nude with a slight peach tone to it-its maybe slightly too warm toned for me and it can look a little bit patchy on the lips on first application-you need to apply, blot and apply again for the smoothest finish.



Brat Pack applies so smoothly, opaque in one pass and just sits so nicely on the lips.  It's a true glamorous Hollywood red. 



Both are hydrating, the finish of both is semi matte and weightless on the lips and the lasting power is exceptional.  They are, no doubt pricy and a real treat but there are such high quality and beautifully done.

I have seen some sneak peek photos of the 'Silver Screen' lipsticks and I already know I will be buying 'Play It' when they launch!




NB-should have mentioned that not all Lipstick Queen lipsticks carry this price tag-their normal lipsticks are around the £20 ish mark-yes definitely high end but not as expensive as this range of theirs.