It’s been a while since I’ve written anything publicly but, as this week marks two important milestones in my life, I am compelled to share the story of my journey. Five years ago I married my husband. Five years ago I also received life-altering news. Both events have shaped me, but the latter has transformed my life—and led me to found Inner Beauty Cosmetics.
Let’s start at the beginning. It was the worst timing—five days before my wedding. You can imagine the feelings a bride has five days before her wedding: joy, stress, elation, anxiety—I felt every emotion on the spectrum. I planned our wedding in a hurry so as to include my mom, who was battling cancer. I had been a single mom for years, was working a demanding job, and had just purchased a new home; my life was at its most crazy… or so I thought.
I remember going to the florist and feeling like I was going to fall—almost as though I was tripping over my own feet. I wondered if my flimsy sandals were to blame, or the fact that that I hadn’t eaten lunch. Not knowing any better, I kept going. A couple of days later I found myself in the ER. I had numbness and tingling in my hand, arm, leg, and foot. I self-diagnosed as having Lyme disease (thank you Google).
The doctor in the ER assumed I was a stressed out bride. I did my best to convince him otherwise but must have sounded nuts: “I can feel this hand with that hand, but not this hand with the other hand,” I heard myself saying. I wasn’t able to think clearly or process my thoughts—all my words were jumbled. I told the doctor to test me for Lyme and give me whatever would “fix me” in time for our wedding. I didn’t have time for this; I was getting married in five days!
They began with a blood test for Lyme, but the results wouldn’t be back for two weeks. Then a CAT scan. Then an ultrasound to check for a blood clot. Both came back negative. They sent in a neurologist who evaluated and reassured me that I was just being a crazy bride. She ordered an MRI of my brain out of precaution and, much to her disbelief, the results were telling. She told me that my brain showed lesions that indicated multiple sclerosis—or MS—and further, that there were too many lesions to count. They admitted me, hooked me up to an IV, and began pumping me with steroids—a treatment that would last five days. “What the hell is MS and how did I get this?” I thought to myself that night. Of course I went straight back to Dr. Google. But with a low battery and no charger, I still had no clue what I had been dealt.
The next day the doctors performed a spinal tap to confirm my diagnosis. As if the shock of the diagnosis and symptoms of MS were not enough, I now had this unbearable, debilitating headache from the procedure. Somehow, I made it through to our wedding day. I even walked down the aisle—IN HEELS. My mom, who thankfully was there, held me and I made it.
About a month later, I had my first appointment with the MS neurologist in NYC. I felt a sense of security with the practice since they specialized in MS; it was such a relief that I had found the right doctor. I started with a first line treatment for 10 months, but the side effects were intolerable. I suffered from cognitive dysfunction and was having a tough time with work. I didn’t know who I was anymore. I was losing myself. Finally my neurologist suggested switching treatments—I was so relieved that there was another option. I put all of my faith into my doctor, and he didn’t fail me.
For the next 18 months, I was stable on a new treatment and was starting to feel like myself again. My lesions were healing and my cognition was improving. I eventually left my job in product development to take care of myself and my mother. But then, devastatingly, my mom lost her battle with cancer. Losing her completely rocked my world and I decided to make some major changes. It was time for us to have some joy in our lives; we decided that we wanted to have a baby.
Most people visit an obstetrician when trying to have a baby. My first appointment was with my trusted MS neurologist. He was my new go-to person for everything medical. My OB wanted me to have several tests to ensure I could conceive before switching my treatment, so she ordered blood work and an ultrasound. The tests indicated I would not be able to conceive naturally. Some levels were low and some were high… all signs pointed to no. I was referred to a fertility specialist and our hopes began to crumble. How long was it going to take us to conceive? Was I going to be ok on a new, less-effective treatment during this time? Would my treatment affect the baby if I were to become pregnant? We were overwhelmed, but kept on going.
My trusted neurologist referred me to a naturopathic physician at the practice. I changed my diet completely when I was diagnosed with MS: I ate healthy, whole foods, and I exercised and took good care of my body. I didn’t think there was much more that I could do to try to become pregnant, but anything was worth a try. The naturopathic doctor helped me track my cycle and put me on herbal medicines. She referred me to an acupuncturist… and I became pregnant on the 5th month! It felt like a miracle.
I suddenly grew focused on the products I was using on my body and, more specifically, the ingredients in those products. Having worked in the cosmetics industry for more than 15 years, I thought I knew a lot about ingredients… but being pregnant inspired a whole new level of precaution. I started to research ingredient safety—buying natural products became a number one priority. And these new, natural products? I hated them. They smelled bad, were expensive, and didn’t work. It was so discouraging; I loved cosmetics. The cosmetics industry was my education, all of my training, and my passion. But conventional cosmetics were no longer serving my lifestyle in the ways I needed – and I felt as if I had no “safe” alternative.
Frustrated, I re-entered the workforce. But this time, I was in it for me and others like me. For women with MS. For those struggling to get pregnant. For those who are already pregnant. For ALL women with sensitive bodies, from those with autoimmune disorders to those battling cancer, and cancer survivors.
I spent years researching. I collaborated with naturopaths, doctors, and chemists. I sourced natural ingredients—ingredients that perform —to create a line of cosmetics that looks good and does good. I launched a brand, appropriately named “Inner Beauty Cosmetics,” for my commitment to caring enough about my inside to use safer, natural products on the outside. Yes, it came from something devastating, but this company has been the silver lining of my journey.
I am beyond excited to share Inner Beauty Cosmetics with the world, and to deliver products that have been created, formulated and tested to be safer for sensitive bodies, like mine.
I am beyond excited to share Inner Beauty Cosmetics with the world, and to deliver products that have been created, formulated and tested to be safer for sensitive bodies, like mine. I intend to give back by donating a portion of the proceeds to MS research. It is my greatest hope that my cosmetic line and the story behind it will help other women who struggle as I have. I invite you to follow me @innerbeautycos and subscribe to the blog. Thank you for sharing my journey.
Founder, Inner Beauty Cosmetics
August 9, 2019
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