A while ago I offered to write a blog for Petal and promptly forgot it about until Ashley gently prodded me the week before Petal's launch.
Arghhhhh! Where do I start? What shall I talk about and how do I come across as witty, urbane, and excessively cool, preferably at the same time? And why do I have such a big mouth?
People say start at the beginning, but for civilities sake let's start with a simple introduction: Hello. My name is Alyssa but hardly anyone besides my mum calls me that. I'm the youngest of eight kids, born in Palmy and bred in a small town called Ashhurst.
I learnt from a young age how to steal fruit from neighbours' gardens and how to commit a crime, blame it on an older sibling and run away really fast. I love to read, watch movies, drink too much red wine and a enjoy a good gin. Travel is a must as is spending time with my brilliant friends. For work I do things with communication in the title and I like to make videos.
I love to plot ways to buy fabulous homewares and 1000 thread count sheets. I have the best husband who makes me laugh every day. I love vintage things and poking through piles of junk. I have a very dirty sense of humour but I cannot remember jokes for the life of me. I've had stage 4 boob cancer for the past 8 years. I really, really want a dog and did you see what I just did there? Look at me trying to sneak in some cancer talk. Cheeky.
For those not in the cancer know, stage 4 comes after stage 1, 2, 3. Stage 1-3 is curable, stage 4 is not. Unlucky number 4 is when cancer has spread from the primary cancer site and merrily danced the fandango to other parts of your body. It can be treatable but not curable. When people die of cancer, it's from stage 4.
Of course, I wouldn't be writing this blog if I didn't have cancer and maybe I wouldn't have meet Ashley if I had kept my lashes. Life is a funny old thing.
I remember Pre-C (pre-cancer) I had some great lashes. With some lash-loading mascara my lashes could almost reach my eyebrows and hit the lenses of my sunglasses. I used to get so many compliments so not having lashes and the definition they bring to my face has been honestly quite tough.
Having had so many chemo cocktails of course took away the hair on my head, my eyebrows, my lashes, made my skin paper thin, killed my energy and even made me fat at times. Fat chemo is not a joke people!
Being pale and freckly to start with, chemo was never going to hit me with the beauty stick. It's actually incredible how much it can erase from what makes you look like, well, you. And of course I'm a woman and I love all the accoutrements of looking good - make up, clothes and a hundred pairs of very necessary shoes.
You may be asking 'what's the big deal with lashes anyway? Weren't you more worried about your cancer?' Well, duh. Of course I was but one of the ways I've always coped is employing some miss-direction (and a whole lot of humour). Rather than navel gazing about life and death over there, I was trying to figure out how to look vaguely like myself and not like Jabba the Hut over here.
After many, many experiments and a lot of money spent on lotions, potions, wigs and prosthetics, I'm proud to say I'm totally fake. Fake hair. Fake boobs. Fake eyebrows. And fake lashes. I'm back to looking and feeling like me. I'm back to looking like normal.
I'm also so, so proud of being part of Petal and helping women like me look and feel normal again too.
Let's put the Petal to the metal shall we?