Nails

May 24

*Updated: The Nail Protocol is at the bottom of this post.

The nail thing is not just a vanity issue.  This new chemo drug is going to make my fingernails and toenails die; it won’t be pretty.  Eventually new ones will grow in.  I am okay with this; chemo is killing the cancer, so chemo can have my hair and my nails and whatever else necessary!  The problem with the whole weakened nail situation is if my nails fall off before the new ones grow in, I am vulnerable to infection.  My immune system is compromised, so I am to avoid infection.  Can you see the cycle?  So, I feel a need to do what I can to protect my nails.

Today I went to a beauty supply store.  I was looking for a product that said “this will help your nails be strong if you are chemo patient.”  Not surprisingly, after scouring the nails section, I did not find any bottles or potions with that phrase emblazoned on the front.  I resorted to asking the sales clerk for some assistance.  She walked me back to the aforementioned nail section and gestured at the bottles and potions saying that all of these would be good.  With a wave of her hand, she recommended about seventy products.  (Sigh.)

I was about to give up and leave when the young woman standing next to me side-stepped closer and said, “I am a Nail Technician, and here is the protocol I recommend for my clients who are chemo patients.”  She then launched into a specific, multi-step process, and recommended three specific products that have yielded her clients good results.  Wow.  I thanked her profusely, I bought the products she recommended, and I now have a plan to execute.  I really felt like that woman was there, today, for me.  She side-stepped into my world and helped me in a very real way.  She problem-solved for me.  She could have overheard my conversation with the clerk and ignored it.  She could have come into the store ten minutes earlier, or ten minutes later, and we never would have met.  While we were talking, she mentioned the salon that she works for; it is the same salon I have a gift certificate for, gifted to me by a friend.  Now I know that if I am having nail problems, I can go see her (for free) and she can help me.  Ironically, this Nail Technician is far more knowledgeable in Chemo Nail Care than any of my nurses and doctors.

It’s the little things that make a difference.  Today, I saw Jesus in the Nail Technician.  Isn’t that cool?

*Update:  I received several requests for the Nail Protocol.  The technician’s name is Kylie and she works at Mitchell’s in West Chester.  I plan on meeting her soon, and picking her brain for more tips.  She uses the brand from her salon, and I bought a random brand from the beauty supply store.  My strengthener in particular, is not great (it flakes), so I can’t recommend brands (yet.)

-Daily: Rub oil on the nails, cuticles, and skin around the nails to preserve moisture.

-Paint nails with a nail strengthener/hardener.  Layer one coat a day for seven days.  On the seventh day (ie, Mondays), remove the layers of nail strengthener with a non-acetone nail polish remover.  Repeat.

-She said polish is okay, but for now, I am not using polish because I want to keep any eye on things and look for things like discoloration.  My (conservative) preference.

33 comments

  1. Meghan Blackledge /

    Have you ever seen the movie “Why I Wore Lipstick to my Mastectomy”? Like you, the main character finds angels everywhere who help her navigate and survive her cancer journey. Lifetime took down the link to the free movie, but it is available on iTunes at this link:
    http://itunes.apple.com/us/tv-season/why-i-wore-lipstick-to-my/id220333003?i=208615314

    I just want to let you know how much I enjoy reading your blog and that you and your family are getting lots of prayers from our family in North Carolina!!

  2. Yes! I love it when God shows his face in those around us. It seems like such a small thing. But really it’s the small things that help me see how grand God is. Thanks for sharing your stories!
    -Holly

  3. Hi Jen,
    Before I even finished reading your post I knew you’d seen Jesus–yet again. What is very cool is your blog continually chronicles your cancer miracles. Now that reads strangely I’m sure, but what a great inspirational book you could write! Hoping you have a blessed holiday weekend!

  4. Karen /

    Can you let us in on the process? I have a friend who will be starting chemo soon and would love to get these products for her and give her a personal mani!

    • andersonfamilyzoo /

      I edited the post to add the specifics of the nail protocol. Hope it helps you and your friend. Great idea!

  5. Bonniebj /

    Good Morning Jen, yet another day to proclaim the faithfulness of the Lord 😉 The first thing I thought of was Hebrews 13:2 “entertaining angels unaware”….such a wonderful way for the Lord to be so ever present in our world. These little visits are so special and so personally specific. Walking with my eyes wide OPEN today. Praying your day is GOOD

  6. Julie T /

    Way cool..it gave me goose bumps. I love sychronicity in action!!!!

  7. Melody /

    thanks for the uplifting story. God is most certainly looking at for you, and it is no coincidence that Nail Tech was standing by to help you out! Thank you so much for sharing your journey with us, with me, a cancer survivor, as you are too! I firmly believe you are a survivor the day you begin the fight against this thing called cancer. and you, my dear, are already winning this battle…I agree with the person who said you could (and should) publish an inspirational book one day. You have a magical gift with words, and I know from experience, nothing is/was more satisfying to me during my battle than to read of others’ experience with the same fight. God Bless you, Jen. well, I know He already has, but may He continue to poor his blessings on you and your family.

  8. Melody /

    grrrr, typos. may He continue to poUr! :)

  9. Peggy Wolfe /

    Hi Jen! I’m a friend of your mother’s and knew you as a little girl. My daughter, Michelle, told me about your blog. I volunteer at The Moffitt Cancer Center (250 infusions plus per day and where most of the breast cancer treatments originate) so I’m very familiar with most of what you describe. I’ve actually recommended your blog to many of our breast cancer patients as I think it offers lots of hope with a huge dash of humor ~ an unstoppable combo! There is an expression in yoga that says “when there’s a true need, the solution will find you” ~ hence the siddle from the nail tech. You’re so full of positive energy, I can feel it all the way here in Florida :)

  10. The beauty isn’t just that God is in every encounter but that you SEE God in every encounter. Someone pointed that out to me yesterday, and even that wasn’t an accident. God bless you! I’m praying for your nails!

  11. Michelle /

    OMGoodness this gave me chills all over. So cool. God is just so darn cool!! WOW I’m going to share this story with everyone I know. Thank you, God, for working in such totally AWESOME ways!!!!!!!

  12. Kim /

    I love it when God has placed some unknown person in our path either to help us or for us to help them.

    You are an unknown person whose path I cross daily. I come here to read your story, see how you are coping and to be uplifted. If you weren’t in your position, many of us would never have heard of you. I read in your blog sometime ago that “Life is Awesome”. I have it written at my desk at work and when I need to, I speak of you and remind myself and my co-workers that we are all very fortunate and we need to keep moving forward. It’s easy to dwell on the negative, but you help me see the positives daily. THANK YOU!

    Of course, you are in my prayers and I think of you often! God is definitely working through you. YOU are a blessing!

  13. Meigan /

    I am always in complete AWE of stories like these. I realize they happen on daily basis but are so special! Some would say “coincidence” but we KNOW BETTER! Can I get an “AMEN” :). And we will pray for your nails! My granny has always had very little/thin hair, she told stories of praying about her hair, and said some of her friends would say you shouldn’t pray about something like that. She used to say that it wasn’t really about what you were praying for (he knows what we need before we ask) but that we seek him in any an all things. Another AMEN! Rock your weekend!

  14. Ingrid /

    Prayers continue for you :) … and, I just wanted to share that my daughter (11) decided to get her (long!) hair cut yesterday and donate it to “Wigs for Cancer Warriors” (lol, not really what it’s called, but it *should* be!).

  15. Jen /

    Wow! Very moving. Good luck with the nail regimen.

  16. Natasha Miller /

    This post brought tears to my eyes, not only that you could find a way to help with you nails, but that God showed up in a real way in this circumstance. This just shows how much He cares about all aspects of our lives! You are continually in my prayers!-Natasha

  17. BethanyB. /

    As you begin your 12 weeks of chemo, I begin 12 weeks of rehab on my back. I believe timing is never a coincidence. Things happen and people come into our lives, just when we need them the most, case in point, your nail experience. I promise take pause and pray for you in chemo, every time I am in rehab. As I grow stronger physically, I will pray that my extra physical strength transfer to you, so you can get chemo, on time, every week. Cheers to the next 12 weeks and life beyond that of health!

  18. Marion /

    I love stories like this! An amazing testimony to God’s handiwork through struggles. Not only is this woman now helping you, but realize that your strength and faith are going to help her! As always, thanks so much for sharing your stories and yourself.

  19. Pastor Mary Beth /

    I’m a pastor who’s been following your story – I don’t even remember how I found about you, but I’ve been inspired by your faith, your commitment, and your strength. I have to tell you, this story of the nail technician in the beauty supply story is the BEST “Jesus with the skin on” story I’ve heard in a long time. Do I have your permission to tell it in a sermon?

  20. Tracey /

    Tears in my eyes! What if, what if…what if she didn’t speak up, what if you didn’t go to the store at the same time, what if you didn’t share your story with the store clerk? But she did and you did and you made an amazing connection and got the help you needed. Awesome! Tears in my eyes…

  21. That is wonderful…you were meant to meet that person so that you could pass along the information to the nurses.

  22. Wow, wow, wow!

  23. Shelley Carter /

    Love that story. God is good!

  24. Yay! God cares about your fingernails!

  25. That is very cool – and such a blessing.

  26. Rebecca /

    Praying for you and your nails! I love that we are all connected!

  27. Jeni /

    I truely believe God puts people in our lives, in the right place, at the exact time we need them. I love hearing stories like this. very cool blessing.

  28. Anonymous /

    You’re truly the Jesus in skin Jen! Continually praying for your complete healing!

  29. And I am convinced that God was showing you how much he cares about you!

  30. Cool Very Cool :-)

  31. Stacey /

    Hi Jen, my name is Stacey and we’ve never met but I’ve been silently following your blog for a while now (silently because I have never left a comment.) But your attitude is beautiful and inspiring to me and I wish I was more like you, especially since I am not facing a life threatening disease. I have been following your blog and praying for you, but I wanted to leave a comment on this blog in particular to provide you with another “beauty tip” like you got from this amazing aesthetician.

    My grandmother has been battling breast cancer for over three years now and has received a lot of chemo, radiation and had a couple surgeries. All her life she has never suffered from dry skin, like my mother and I do. But with all this treatment she was starting to have trouble with her skin being very dry, so she asked my mother what she used to help her skin. My mom has used SEVERAL products over the years, but recently my friend Sarah started selling an all natural skin care line called L’Bri, and those products have helped our skin dramatically. So mom took grandma one of her old lotions and also her new L’Bri lotion. She told her to use them both and see which one she liked best. After a couple of days she asked her which one she liked best and grandma said, “Well they are both nice, but I REALLY like that pink one [the L’Bri lotion], it just makes my skin feel so soft and young and not dry at all!” Since then she has confiscated my mom’s lotion and won’t give it back to her because she likes it so much!

    I say all of this to let you know if you are having any problems with your skin, breakouts, irritation, redness or dryness you should reach out to my friend Sarah and have her send you some L’Bri samples! You can contact her via her Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/sarahprice.lbri, she would LOVE to send you some samples to help you out! If you have any questions or anything you can contact her there or email me at staceyberkemeier@gmail.com (and that goes for all of you readers, not just Jen!)

    Praying for you on this journey! God bless you!

    Stacey