This month, I’ve decided to reveal the real story behind the creation of my first product, which was the Wonder Butter.
To really start from the beginning, I have to talk about my illness, which struck me at 21 years old — basically my prime years, at a moment in which I was envisioning a wild, bright, adventurous young adulthood. Instead, I received a cancer diagnosis. My first instinct was to go look for a shaman in the jungle to rid me of the curse. After all, chemotherapy and radiation didn’t sound glamorous, and my perception of western medicine was pretty dismissive. In the end, I abandoned my dreams of a natural cure when faced with the statistics: a 95% success rate after 6 months of chemo to cure my Hodgkin’s Lymphoma — a blood cancer. And, needless to say, I was scared shitless. So I went for it.
Statistics do tell a story. But when my cancer came back, I felt kind of betrayed by those numbers. So I stopped believing in them. Seven years, and two bone marrow transplants later, it became obvious that I liked to stand out from the crowd. Several surgeries, infections, hospital nightmares, near-death experiences, depression, and disfigurement left me, to put mildly, in a different state. Today, I’m grateful to be in remission; however, I do have to deal with a lot of complications, especially Graft-vs-Host Disease, an auto-immune disease which attacks different organs of the body (including the skin).
Dealing with sudden, drastic body changes was probably the hardest. I would come home after a week in the hospital and didn’t recognize myself in the mirror. Denial was the only way for me to deal with it most of the time. Eventually, though, I did have to distract myself with countless hobbies, mostly handicrafts.
The great thing about the creative process is being able to let go. A way to disconnect from everyday worries, to escape reality. The most fulfilling activity I found was when I started experimenting with making my own beauty products. Not only did I feel like I regained a little control over this chaos of a life, it was fun and useful. My skin had been very dry and irritated because of various treatments and medication. None of the medical ointments and lotions I was given worked. And for good reason: they’re all similar to products you’ll find at your local drugstore.
The point is that unfortunately, most patients (and consumers) do not know the difference and they continue to use chemical-laden, toxic and ineffective products on their skin. And it’s tragic because some people do really have major skin problems which could be relieved with much more gentle, natural solutions.
My initial idea was to try shea butter, because I had been buying hair products with shea butter in them for years to help with my dry wavy hair. After doing a little research, I went ahead and bought pure shea butter. Before I knew it, I was whipping up rich body butters, adding natural botanical oils and other vegetable butters.
The result was infallible, and my skin was finally relieved. Somehow word got around, my friends and family loved it. They suggested I sell it. I called it the Wonder Butter, because it really does work wonders. It quenched my ever-thirsty skin, and kept it comfortably moisturized all day.
Today, I freak out if I get out the shower and can’t find my butter. I use it faithfully everyday. At first it was just for my very dry skin; after that it became essential to help with my auto-immune disorder, which literally scorched parts of my body. When I finally had time (in between continuous hospital visits and treatments) to see a dermatologist who specialized in GVHD, she told me I had saved my skin with this butter.
The Wonder Butter not only saved my skin — It provided a much-needed mental escape, a way to dream again and even have the confidence to start my own business. It was the starting point for the world of MIZTERA, which is the closest thing to the wild traveIs I had envisioned for my twenties. Making it, enjoying it, and seeing it relieve others’ ailments is the greatest reward. It truly is SOUL THERAPY!!