Stacy Kimmel | Six-Time Cancer Survivor
Over the past 11 years, the Lipstick Angels have met thousands of awe-inspiring, courageous people who continually redefine the meaning of perseverance and positivity. Stacy’s journey is one that most cannot possibly fathom. We are deeply grateful that she was willing to share this powerful story of a woman who simply refused to give up.
You received pampering from the Lipstick Angels while undergoing chemotherapy. Why do you think a service like that is so important? How did it affect your mood and outlook that day?
When you go into the hospital for cancer treatment there are shifting levels of high anxiety. The day I met Renata, my entire being was on high alert. Although my friends and family always told me I looked great, my mental state was telling me something completely different: “Your hair is dry and brittle, your skin looks green, flaky, and ugly” Renata was kind and took her time to get to know me. I will never forget how special she made me feel.
"Who would have thought that something as simple as a fresh coat of Lipstick and a compassionate touch could bring out the inner strength of my inner superhero? Lipstick Angels knew!"
You are the epitome of courage and perseverance! Being a six-time cancer survivor is something most of us cannot even begin to imagine. Can you share with us the story of your diagnosis?
Thank you for your kind words. To be honest, I don’t see myself that way. I was diagnosed at age 39 with Stage 0 breast cancer. I had just moved across the country with my three-year-old daughter. I told my doctors they had two months to get me on my feet again! Truly it was something I saw as an inconvenience. My job, daughter, and life were waiting for me.
After a bilateral mastectomy, my medical team felt confident I was on the road to recovery.
Two years later cancer came back much more aggressively. This led to several more years of debilitating rounds of chemotherapy, another breast cancer diagnosis, three brain surgeries, radiation, intense headaches, and countless drug cocktails.
"While all this sounds overwhelming and terrible, I refused to let it change who I was as a person. Cancer is a cruel disease. But I never let my prognosis stop me from making more memories and living life with my loved ones."
We heard the Tournament of Roses gave you a personal parade. Tell us about that and why community support is so important in challenging times.
It was always on my bucket list to ride in the Rose Parade! The marketing communications group at the City of Hope asked me to ride on their 2020 float and I was over the moon! Sadly, the day before the parade I started feeling ill and could not attend. I was crushed but knew it was the best thing for my health.
Around this time, I had also become quite involved with an incredible organization called The Foundation for Living Beauty. They focus on the mind, body, and soul of cancer patients and survivors. A few days after the parade, I got a call from a fellow living beauty member who told me to get dressed, do my makeup and hair, and be ready in an hour. She drove me to the tournament house where a make-shift parade was ready to take me on the route! They had major press coverage and I even got to wear the tiara!
"If it weren’t for my community my dream never would have been realized. It was a memory marking moment that will never be forgotten."
Besides science, medicine, and your incredible team of doctors at the City of Hope, can you share with us where you get your strength, hope, and optimism?
A cancer diagnosis is complex. Treatment and recovery can become totally overwhelming and at times, extremely impersonal. The challenge is to incorporate a personal connection, something that speaks to who you are as an individual, and bring that zest for life into the forefront of your day.
I choose to be more positive by weaving in productive, proactive well-being practices: yoga, essential oils, massage therapy, energy work, and good old fashion walks in nature. I also look for peace. It seems logical to me that peace is a more loving way to heal rather than consistently being in “fight mode.”
"For me, a nurturing environment is the best way to stop my thoughts from becoming a black hole of negativity, something cancer can push to the forefront."
Cancer has changed my life, but it has also given me gifts. I’ve been able to provide insight and share my thoughts with others going through this journey, helping ease their day and guiding them on their own path. If it helps even one person during their struggle, to know that they are not alone, then I know I have done the right thing.
Stacy, The Lipstick Angels are deeply grateful to you for sharing your story and baring your soul. We love you and wish you the best.