Living Beauty Sarah Lucero, Global Executive Director of Creative Artistry for Stila Cosmetics, shared special tips with fellow Living Beauty Ada on how to wear comfortable, natural and bright makeup during cancer treatment. Then, Sarah sat down with us to share her incredible story.
Finding The Light Again.
Sarah Lucero of Stila’s Journey With Cancer, As Told to Trina Smith.
As a dynamic employee at Stila, Sarah Lucero’s whirlwind life had no time for cancer. Then 34, dozens of work projects and world travel entertained her youthful spirit and enthusiasm. In the fall of 2010, a lingering pain in her chest led Sarah to a trail of suspicions about her health. Might the irritation be from a pulled muscle? Bronchitis or a cyst? “I couldn’t ignore it,” explains Sarah. Even during a trip to Australia, Sarah found herself considering her discomfort on a daily basis but never suspected cancer. Upon arriving home, she booked an appointment with a doctor, who further reassured her that cancer was an unlikely possibility. “She said, ‘It’s probably nothing. You’re 34, don’t have family history and seem healthy.’ I thought that it was even better she wasn’t worried, so I wasn’t worried,” explains Sarah.
Testing proved less generous. “We see something that could be cancer,” Sarah was told. “That’s when I didn’t hear anything else,” she says. Sarah went home and awaited what she hoped would be relieving news. The next morning, a doctor called at work to explain that Sarah had Stage 3 breast cancer. Fortunately, Sarah’s support system rallied, from her workplace to new sisterhood at the Foundation for Living Beauty.
Friendly knowledge bolstered Sarah’s spirit during a challenging process. She needed to decide about surgeries including a mastectomy, as well as a full body MRI and an entire course of action for treatment. Seeking multiple opinions helped Sarah gain a well-rounded outlook. “That second opinion changed everything. They helped me understand.” Sarah’s doctor was Kristi Funk, a leading MD at Pink Lotus Breast Center. Responsible for the surgeries of celebrities including Angelina Jolie and Sheryl Crow, Funk guided Sarah through decisionmaking regarding her breasts, surgeries and treatment schedules. Sarah additionally worked with an oncologist, but didn’t neglect a more holistic route. “Acupuncture and herbs were so helpful. They got my immune system strong for treatment and after.”
Sarah started chemotherapy treatment right around Christmas, and later started radiation after a double mastectomy in April. Sarah’s breast and nipple surgeries featured revolutionary work, including the use of her own fat to round out her reconstruction. “I took a few months to like my body,” she says.
Through her treatments, Sarah began to recognize the importance of balancing her emotional wellbeing, work and cancer. Despite her steadfast, in-the-moment focus on her treatments, Sarah’s work life continued to pan out perfectly. “Everything I wanted to do that I was so afraid of missing out on, it turned out okay. Big deals I worked forever to achieve happened. There’s never a good time, but at least I could still do these things. I thought it was over and it really wasn’t.” By living in the “now”, Sarah continued to accept her illness without letting it define her routine or goals.
Sarah’s continued successes at work also translated into solace. “[My bosses] were fabulous,” she explains. Indeed they were, accompanying Sarah to meetings and appointments while offering incredible flexibility and accommodations. “What I started to realize is the energy of people. Worry and fear are negative, and I didn’t want to burden people or be looked at differently…My bosses treated me normally and gave me opportunities but understood I couldn’t predict how I felt each day.”
Despite its challenges and intense drawbacks, Sarah’s breast cancer also presented mysterious blessings. “I really felt in the now,” she explains. “I learned so much about myself. Being patient, not labeling things good or bad. I would never question anything good, so I accepted and allowed everything that happened.”
As Sarah learned the importance of peace and letting go, she found herself introduced to the Foundation for Living Beauty. After attending an FFLB Day of Living Beauty event built with help from her Stila coworker Janice, Sarah herself became a Living Beauty. After attending a yoga retreat and interacting with other strong, spirited women, Sarah emerged with an even more powerful mindset. “What I loved when I came to the yoga retreat was I hadn’t been able to stop, take a minute and relax. It taught me that there’s so much more healing that has to happen after physical problems stop. Mentally and emotionally, being able to look back is a different process. There’s no start or ending to healing. I’ll forever try to be healthy and care for my body and beauty. When women say, ‘My skin glows, I look like me!’, it’s a light of how they feel and beauty that comes out. From retreats and yoga, you see your light again.”
Sarah’s experience with cancer has left her with the gift of peaceful present-mindedness. “When you’re there and present, that’s when all the miracles happen.”
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