Anna is an amazing wife, mom, and cancer thriver who loves finding just the right shade of lipstick for her mood. That’s why her experience with thyroid and metastatic cancer turned her lipstick-shopping coping method into something even more extraordinary.
ICYMI: we went live on Instagram with Anna in December as part of our Thriver Thursday series — check out the convo here!
Anna’s Cancer Story
Anna has been on a cancer rollercoaster, with on and off diagnosis and treatment since 2008.
When she was first diagnosed with thyroid cancer, people would tell her, “that’s the easy cancer.” (Pro tip: don’t say this to people. Thanks.) Quite frankly, there’s nothing easy about radioactive iodine treatment and a thyroidectomy.
Thyroid cancer wasn’t the end. The following year, Anna had regional metastasis to her neck and lymph nodes.
Though she was deemed cancer-free in 2013 after her last scan, cancer wouldn’t leave her alone. Four years later, Anna had a CT scan when her arm and fingers went numb. That’s when she was diagnosed with Stage 4 metastatic cancer with multiple nodules in her left and right lung.
Anna’s cancer has been stable since 2017 (it’s slow-growing). After three surgeries and seven weeks of external beam radiation, it’s time to watch and wait. She has scans every 3-6 months and bloodwork every three months.
“No one knows when my cancer will start to advance, but it will eventually. For now, I'm grateful for every single moment.”
How Anna Copes in Style
During her earlier treatments, Anna was buying lipstick after every appointment: “I was buying whatever color that related to how I felt.” She accrued hundreds of lipsticks but never really found the right color. That’s when she started reviewing lipsticks on her blog.
But she wanted to do more with her life, especially after the metastatic cancer diagnosis. She told her husband, “I’m done writing about other people’s lipstick. I want to make my own lipstick and give back to women and organizations fighting against cancer.”
The Lipstick Journey was born.
About The Lipstick Journey
Even with thousands of lip colors, Anna wanted to create the perfect shades (and formula) for herself and anyone else who found them helpful. Not knowing her cancer’s timeline, she set off to put her dreams in motion.
As Anna writes on her site: “A lot has changed for me in the past decade, but what has not is my relationship with lipstick. I have always loved it, and because of my theater experience, I learned about the transformative power of color at a young age.”
Anna officially launched the Lipstick Journey 18 months after she started in 2017. The vitamin-infused formula without harmful parabens and sulfates helps combat the drying effects of radiation.
“Cancer has always colored my moods, and lipstick has helped me communicate them.”
Did you catch our makeup tutorial event with Anna back in February? We hope to do one again soon, so stay tuned.
The Lipstick Journey supports various cancer organizations, including:
Let’s get to know Anna better!
Three things most people don’t know about Anna:
She used to be a singer; she’s performed at multiple events and for radio jingles. She was even on a TV show and considered for a leading role in Miss Saigon North American tour.
She has five kids in a blended family, all teens and young adults.
She was born in the Philippines and came to America with her parents when she was two, straight to Detroit!
What brings her joy:
“I love knowing that I've made a difference in someone's life, even if it's just for a moment.”
Wellness rituals that help Anna feel her best:
Anna loves written words (duh - journaling, blog, and book). She saved (and printed) every encouraging card and email. She even turned her treatment update emails into a book, My Lipstick Journey Through Cancer!
Anna appreciates care packages (like these from the buddhi shop!) with books, self-care items, and of course, lipstick. Good meals from friends and family are the best medicine for recovering from surgeries and radiation.
Her good friends and amazing husband, Jim, have been her biggest supporters.
Want to support someone going through or recovering from cancer treatment? Here’s Anna’s advice. “Don't offer too much advice because more than likely we've already googled it. Instead, be available. Listen. Do what brings them joy. Do they like food? Bring food. Makeup? Bring makeup. I don't know anyone who doesn't love presents.”
Anna’s cancer story is integral to her career as The Lipstick Journey founder. She’s met so many amazing women through this opportunity and is stepping into her purpose.
“I've been able to let go of things that don't matter, stress less, and realize we really don't have control of most things.”
As a people pleaser, Anna has been able to practice focusing on her needs and wants more. (Remember, bud, self-care is not selfish!)
Follow Anna (The Lipstick Journey) on Instagram at @thelipstickjourney, and be sure to listen to our Instagram Live!