This is a guest post by Phoenix mom and breast cancer survivor Barbra Watson-Riley. Read more about Barbra’s breast cancer story here.
Last year I was diagnosed with breast cancer. It was shocking of course. But as we know, breast cancer doesn’t discriminate. It didn’t matter that I was young, was a mom of a nine year old, and a wife to a great husband of 17 years! It didn’t matter that I was actively involved in the community, or that I valued my Saturday date nights with said hubby! My doctors and husband told me that my only job was to sit still and get well! Honestly, that was tough. I was used to being on the go. I promised I would…try.
Well, chemo has a way of keeping you in your place! Between the nausea, fatigue, and loss of appetite, I couldn’t go very far. Did I mention the loss of hair and nails turning black? Or the sad looks you get from passerby? But after those initial weeks, I managed to pull myself together and go out! To top it off, I left my wig in the closet!
Here in the Valley, we are fortunate to have a lot of genuinely nice people. Once people got over the bald lady walking in, most didn’t stare, and often I got a question or two. But I wouldn’t have made it without the following places. These businesses went the extra mile for me and my family! I would encourage anyone to check them out, cancer or not!
Let’s start with food. When you are going through chemo, it’s hard to find food that actually tastes good to you. Docs also urge you to eat healthy and/or organic food. These three places were always flexible when I had odd requests, or when I had to send something back. More important, the owners always came out to check on me. They celebrated with me each time I hit a milestone.
- Carmel’s: Phoenix Magazine named Carmel’s one of their “Best New Restaurants”. I love the homemade granola and the fresh squeezed orange juice. My mini me always orders the Nutella crepe.
- Daily Dose: This is another Phoenix Magazine “Top Restaurant”, and my favorite place for breakfast! Jenlyn and her staff go the extra mile. The gingerbread pancakes stopped my nausea in its tracks! Most patients say that after chemo is done, they don’t want to eat the foods they ate during treatment. Well, after treatment was done, I wanted MORE gingerbread pancakes, and peppered bacon! Daily Dose also has a great “Health Nut” menu.
- Giuseppe’s on 28th: We found Giuseppe’s after seeing it on the Food Network. Being former east coasters, we miss the abundance of solid Italian food! Giuseppe’s is our “go to” spot. The owner Richard, uses the freshest ingredients, and welcomes patrons at the door with a warm smile. Giueseppe’s just opened an outdoor patio, so check them out as the weather turns. This month they are even promoting a breast cancer “Pink Drink” with proceeds going to a local non-profit.
Did I mention that my hair fell out? All of it? No eyebrows. Or that my nails were black and fragile? How did I battle looking like an alien?
- MAC at the Biltmore: I have long been a fan of all things MAC. But the folks at the Biltmore got me through chemo. Richard and Trelis taught me how to manage the changes in my skin, from dryness to sensitivity to changes in complexion. They taught me how to draw on eyebrows! It’s harder than it looks! Richard is now my “go to” guy for special events! Even if you just want a new lipstick shade or some pointers, MAC is the place to go!
- Nail Spa at Lincoln View: There are plenty of places to get nails done in the Valley. I came to know the owners of the Nail Spa. They understood that their techs had to be extra clean and careful, not cut my cuticles, and be gentle so the toe nails wouldn’t pop off.
- Fairmont Scottsdale Willow Stream Spa: I loved getting massages while I was going through treatment. It relaxed me, and also helped break up scar tissue after my many surgeries. I sampled many of the local resorts and chains. Willow Stream is my new favorite. They tailored my massage to fit my needs, were trained in giving massages to mastectomy patients, and even have a Power in Pink Room.
So there you have it! Cancer didn’t keep me from going out, having date night, or feeling cute! My fave spots just made it a little easier!
Barbra Watson-Riley is an attorney, breast cancer advocate and Phoenix-area mom. She sits on the boards of the Susan G. Komen Foundation – Phoenix Affiliate and Coalition of Blacks Against Breast Cancer and has served on boards and been active in numerous other service organizations. Barbra recently celebrated 17 years of marriage with her husband Brendon. They have a 10-year-old daughter, Blayre.
Barbra is a one-year survivor of breast cancer. She blogs at www.pinkwellchick.com about breast and heart health and at www.inkwellchicks.com, where she chronicled her own personal breast cancer journey.