Cancer Costumes...Halloween FUN

Halloween is for kids and cancer patients! There is a joy that overflows from a child when asked, “What do you want to be for Halloween?” With its endless possibilities to express who they want to become, who they idolize. As a cancer patient, the opportunity returns.  

It is a time to embrace the changes, the baldness, the scars. A time to laugh at the hand you have been dealt.

Ania, is an RN who had Breast Cancer at age 32. Click the photo to follow her on Instagram @FUCancer32.

Ania, is an RN who had Breast Cancer at age 32. Click the photo to follow her on Instagram @FUCancer32.

It is a day off from taking CANCER seriously. 

Lara Honnor was diagnosed with Triple Negative Breast cancer at age 31. Click the photo to follow her on Instagram @Blonde_Pony. 

Lara Honnor was diagnosed with Triple Negative Breast cancer at age 31. Click the photo to follow her on Instagram @Blonde_Pony. 

It is a time to take charge of YOUR identity, even if it is just for a day. 

Cancer Costume Bride of Frankenstein Mastectomy Breast Cancer Topless Drain Bags

Halloween 2014 -a week after my double mastectomy- there was no party but there was an appointment to remove my final drain bag. Circumstance made my costume…I was the Bride of Frankenstein, cut up and put back together. My amazing husband dressed as Dr. Frankenstein to support my crazy. 

It brought joy to what could have been an otherwise traumatizing situation. I had not seen my bare chest until that appointment and when I did my first thought was “What a F*CKING badass”. It set the tone for my journey to follow.



Aniela Signature

What do you want to be for Halloween?

Comment below.

Oil Pulling + Chemo = No Mouth Sores?

MOUTH SORES...they are like a portal to Chemo HELL. What if they could not only be treated but PREVENTED? Oil Pulling is the magical answer, plus its cheap and easy. 

My final chemo treatment was April 11, 2015, and this has been the one tip I share the most. Oil Pulling has made me one of those overly excited people pushing unsolicited holistic remedies onto unsuspecting cancer patients (I know...ugh), but this one actually works and made it possible for me to eat during chemo. Plus, it isn't connected to a mid-level marketing product.

Prior to chemo, I couldn't justify the hassle of oil pulling. My random attempts couldn't “proved” that it accomplished more than slowly whitening my teeth, but during chemo it became my secret weapon against dreaded mouth sores.

Oil pulling is an ancient Ayurvedic technique that involves putting oil in your mouth for 20 minutes every day in order to draw out toxins from the body.

Sounds like a party, right? 

Christmas morning, 2014, my first mouth sore broke open one week after my first chemo treatment--what a gift! My internet chemo-comrades informed me that I could get my doctor to prescribe “Magic Mouthwash”, but they warned that it tasted like crap and and would make my mouth numb. Out of simple laziness to avoid another trip to the pharmacy, I decided to try oil pulling again. By the next day my mouth was HEALED.

From that moment on, every morning, the first thing I would do--after peeing, of course-- was put a spoonful of coconut oil in mouth. A year later, I am still doing it. With four months of intense chemo, the first mouth sore was my ONLY mouth sore. Oil pulling also saved me THOUSANDS of dollars in dental work after chemo. Something no one mentions during treatment is that all of those sores wreak havoc on your mouth, causing damage that could result in gum disease, cavities, and tooth loss. I only needed two preventative fillings. Thank you, Oil Pulling!


what I use:

  • 3-4 drops Organic Clove Oil
  • 3-4 drops Organic Peppermint Oil
  • 1/2 cup warm salt water (for rinsing)

I prefer coconut oil but you can also use sesame or sunflower. Amazon sells “pure, unrefined, cold pressed, 100% organic extra virgin coconut oil” (with that many adjectives it must be good) in a 54oz jug for about $17.

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Dr. Mehta, my integrative medicine doctor at UM Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, suggested I add several drops of clove oil to my oil pulling. Clove oil and coconut oil both have antiseptic properties and the clove oil has a huge list of added benefits. Now, I also add a few drops of organic peppermint oil to give me extra fresh breath. 

Why does oil pulling work? I came to find out it's not magic. Dr. Mehta explained that during chemo the cells are exploding and leaving their toxic waste floating in your body. By drinking water you flush the water soluble parts out but the fat soluble bits are stuck. By oil pulling, you give a place for those fat soluble toxins to go and then you spit them out. Abracadabra, the magic of our bodies. 

First thing in the morning, before drinking water or brushing your teeth, put a teaspoon of coconut oil with a few drops of clove and peppermint oil in your mouth and gently swish for 20 minutes. If you are finding that your mouth is cramping or you are gagging, start with less oil and less time. Then do your morning ritual; use the bathroom, make the bed, shower, feed the cats, meditate, etc. 20 minutes is the optimum time to get the full benefits. It's long enough to break through the mucus membrane and short enough so the toxins don't seep back in. Spit the oil into the TRASH (you don’t want to clog your drains). Then rinse with salt water as an added antiseptic while in chemo. DONE. 

As an added bonus, you will have a bright white smile to go with your shiny bald head. 

Aniela and her husband, Jordan, at an event during her chemo.

What It Will NOT Do:

  • CURE cancer (Go to the doctor)
  • Heal pre-existing cavities and decay
  • Magically make all of your problems go away (Cancer Sucks)

Benefits I felt:

  • Whitens Teeth
  • Freshens Breath
  • Reduces Stiff Joints
  • Reduces Sinus Problems
  • Clears Skin
  • Detoxifies the Body
  • Increase Energy Level
  • Prevents Mouth Sores before they start

Game of Oil Pulling

By the end of Chemo, it was an all out battle between oil pulling and the chemo drugs. My mouth felt fuzzy, food tasted funny, and I could feel that the mouth sores were clawing to come out. Chemo compounds and oil pulling can only do so much, but if you are diligent with oil pulling you can hold them back as long as possible. 


Did you try oil pulling during your chemo? what was your experience?

Comment below.


This is something that worked for me, but please talk to your doctor. Also, check to see if your cancer facility has an integrative medicine doctor. They are a wonderful resource for adding holistic medicines to your standard medicine. *DO NOT discontinue your actual medicine because of what you read here.  


10 Reasons To Go Barber Shopping Post-Chemo

10 Reasons to Go Barber Shopping Post Chemo 

There are a ton of great blogs about how to help your hair grow back after chemo. Instead, I am going to talk about cutting it. I know…you want it to grow back as FAST as possible, why would you CUT it? 


My first haircut was two months post chemo. I barely had any hair at all, but the hair I did have made it look like I just finished chemo…which I did. The baby bunny fur that was growing out of my head gave away my medical history to everyone that laid eyes on me and all I could see was their Pity. 

First haircut. Two months post-chemo. Fade with a spiral part razor cut in. 


My spirit couldn’t sit through the months of awkward Mullet, Chemo Fro—I had already been through enough. 


In the midst of this emotional personal battle over what to do about my hair, Ruby Rose became popular. In case you don’t know who she is, she is the gender-fluid woman on “Orange is the New Black” who single-handedly made every straight woman question their sexuality. Seeing her hair inspired me to take back control over my own. 

Ruby Rose


The Barber SHOP.

A place very few women venture became my hair sanctuary. I went from looking sickly to SICK in 20 minutes and for $20, and it was the first time I felt sexy since my cancer experience started.

Why you should go to a barber:

Second hair cut. Three months post-chemo and eight months post-mastectomy. Fade with Hard Part razor cut in.

  1. Cheaper- $20 vs. $50 at a salon
  2. Faster- 20 minutes Start to Finish
  3. Experience- They KNOW how to cut short hair. 
  4. No more Mullet Chemo Fro.
  5. You will feel like a Badass (and look like one too).

Barber Shop Tips:

Men's hairstyle inspiration.

  1. Yelp Barber Shops to find one you like (look at reviews and photos).
  2. Younger Barber’s know how to cut in the hip line work.
  3. Pin Men’s Hairstyles you think are sexy (You will be attracted to yourself ;-).
  4. Wash your hair before (they don’t wash it).
  5. Ask them for styling advice.




Walt is my barber and we have been together from that first cut over a year ago. We met online…yelp to be exact, and he has been a huge part of my cancer recovery. He makes my short hair look like a CHOICE, not a side effect.

7 months post chemo. Blow out with Hard Part razor cut in.

One year post-chemo. Faded pixie cut. Chemo Curls on top.







P.S.-I hate to admit this, but there was a part of me that misses my bald chemo head—mainly the perks. I got out of a speeding ticket with a state trooper, people brought me food, and I could watch hours of Netflix with no judgement; but all good things must come to and end and I love finding the new me.


How long did you wait for your first post-chemo haircut? Comment below.

Why Cancer Grad?

The first time someone called me a “Cancer Survivor” I recoiled in horror. It was a badge of honor that I was supposed to wear proudly, but instead it gave me the willies. “Survivor” signified only two options; being alive or being dead. My mother was a Skin Cancer and Breast Cancer “Survivor” but  Ovarian Cancer revoked her title the day she passed away.

Many patients feel connected to the term, they feel like “WARRIORS”; which they are. In no way am I trying to diminish that. For me, the term didn’t fit and I had to find a new way to cope with my cancer diagnosis.

The question became, “What else can you call a Cancer Patient when they finish treatment?” My fellow cancer comrade, Nora, and I came up with “Graduate.” We are “Cancer Graduates.”

why cancer grad.jpg

I spent the next 6 months refining the term. Why Cancer Graduate?

For me, there is a moment of recognition when talking to someone and finding out they also went through a cancer diagnosis. Instantly, we connect. It is the same moment of recognition when you find out someone went to the same university. “You went to CancerU, too? What campus?”

You ask what major they had. “I majored in Breasts, you majored in Prostate! How crazy.”

We reminisce about the parties where we had too many cocktails and were throwing up.

We compare courses; surgery, chemo, radiation.

There is a camaraderie…an understanding.

When we graduate some people become Alumni Donors-going to the games, sporting the team t-shirts and bumper stickers-while others move on only mentioning it in passing when they meet fellow alumni.

Imagine what the cancer experience would be like if we walked in with that same attitude as going away to college. Florida State University had a huge impact on my life, shaping who I am today, but it doesn’t define me. We enter college with the main goal of learning and we ask ourselves, “How can I use this knowledge to help the world, to help myself, and to change the future?”

I knew college was going to be difficult and expensive. I struggled but did it with an open heart and excitement. I found where to have fun, made life long friends, gained 15 lbs and cut my hair.

Sometimes when we think we are done with school, life happens and we have to go back for a Masters or PhD.

We enter cancer knowing it is going to be a struggle but at the same time curious about what we will learn. As Viktor Frankl said, “When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves” and “between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”

Going to WAR carries a heavy emotional burden filled with images of death and destruction. Fear and Anger are powerful ways to propel oneself to action but over time can become overwhelming and difficult to bear. By changing our view of cancer from a war to be waged to an educational experience, it allows us to change our feelings of fighting to perseverance, fear to curiosity, pain to growth. It becomes lighter.

I am proud to be a “Cancer Graduate” and I can’t wait to share what I learned with the world.

What will you do with your degree?