Entering into this holiday season is pushing me to be more and more protective of my time. With a long running list of to-dos, I find myself wanting to slow down and spend more time with my family.
Do you feel that, too?
The conversation on the podcast today is here to help us with this exact reminder of just how precious life is - and how to be present in the small moments with those we love most.
This is why I love the podcast so much. It allows me to go deeper into conversation and topics that are on my heart - more than just the 15 seconds on Instagram.
And on today’s episode, we definitely needed more than the 15 seconds. You may want your tissues for this one because I’m bringing on my friend and fellow blogger, Nasreen Shahi.
Nasreen’s story is so special because not only is she a highly influential content creator (she won the LTK Fashion All Star Award last year!) - but she is also a breast cancer survivor and thriver.
In this episode, Nasreen and I are chatting about her breast cancer journey – and the awareness she is raising around it.
She was diagnosed in 2021, and began sharing her journey with her community. At first she was hesitant – especially after her surgeries and losing her hair – but she then realized, her story was SO much more than that.
Since then, she has helped and walked alongside so many others who have had diagnoses, and supported them by reminding them they are not walking that journey along.
In this conversation, we are also chatting about:
- How Nasreen began into the world of blogging
- Nasreen’s advice on how to support friends going through a similar life path
- Awareness on the latest research, treatment options, and chemo symptom solutions
- What cold capping is – and how it salvages some of your hair during the the chemo hair loss process
- Her mantra while journeying through the process.
Nasreen is such a special and sweet friend. Her boldness to share and inspiration to walk alongside others is the encouragement we need this season.
If you or a loved one is going through a similar journey as Nasreen’s, please know you are on our hearts and Nasreen has SO many helpful resources for you on her blog and Instagram. Never, ever hesitate to reach out. You are not alone, friend.
We are hoping and wishing the best of health and happiness for you and your family this holiday season. We hope this conversation brings sweetness to your soul.
Use code LWLFREESHIP at the Life with Loverly Shop for free shipping on all orders within the Continental US!
This podcast was transcribed using Rev.com. Please forgive any typos or errors.
Brittany: Hi friends! Welcome to the Life with Loverly podcast. I'm Brittany, a wife, mom, and lifestyle entrepreneur here to help you discover your best daily style and encourage you to try new things when getting dressed each day. I took a tiny following on social media and turned it into a community of over 1 million amazing women, and I am so glad you're here. I'll be sharing my heart with you beyond the 15 seconds on Instagram, so we'll be diving into things like personal growth, friendships, motherhood, marriage, and of course -- the business of blogging. Really, this space is here to serve as your go-to resource to building a life you adore while sprinkling some kindness to others along the way. Grab an iced coffee and let's do life together! I'm Brittany and this is the Life with Loverly podcast.
Nichelle: Hey guys! Welcome back to the Life with Loverly podcast.
Brittany: Hi, how are you?
Nichelle: I'm good, how are you?
Brittany: I'm great. How was your week?
Nichelle: It was good. It was good. Trying to get last minute Christmas shopping.
Brittany: I know.
Nichelle: It's been a thing. I guess just because shipping cutoffs and stuff. I was like, "let's just go to the mall," and that was on Saturday. That may or may not have been a mistake.
Brittany: I'm sure you are appreciating not being in retail anymore.
Nichelle: I literally stopped. We were sitting there in the middle of all of this holiday traffic and I looked at the girls and I said, "I cannot imagine still doing this this year."
I just have so much appreciation for everybody who is still in retail and dealing with some of that. Praise you guys.
Brittany: Yeah, it's a lot. Even delivery drivers, shoutout to everybody who really makes Christmas happen. And all the presents and the delivery, and I feel like so much is riding on, "is my package going to get here on time?"
Nichelle: Seriously, hold your breath!
Brittany: We had a holiday party over the weekend and it was so much fun. This is our third annual time attending this specific holiday party, and it's always so fun to see the friends that sometimes we hadn't seen in until last year's holiday party. We always talk like, "oh, here's our reunion, we'll see you next year." But some of the girls, we kind of shut it down late. I was one of the last people to leave and we got some early 2000s rap music going.
Brittany: And a great playlist and we're dancing in their living room, just having the time of our lives. It was so much fun just singing these songs. Then we sit back and we're like, "what are we saying?" But we're so passionate about these lyrics. It was so much fun. The next morning, we were all like, "huh, we're not as young as we used to be." But it was so much fun. So I would look forward to that holiday party every year.
Nichelle: Love the holiday parties.
Well, do you want to introduce our next guest?
Brittany: Yes! You guys, today's podcast episode is so good. I would say go ahead and grab some tissues because there are going to be a few tears. We are speaking with my friend, Nasreen Shahi, you guys probably know her on Instagram as heynasreen. On Instagram, she shares casual chic fashion. We are actually very similar. She's petite, but we share a lot of similar outfit ideas. She's just a little bit shorter than I am, so all of my shorter followers, I'm like, "you guys have to follow Nasreen if you like what I'm posting. She posts something very similar," but she's amazing. We met a few years ago, I think at one of the LTK conferences or maybe Fashion Week, and just became really good friends. We used to do these back and forth reels or try ons and show it on two different body types or we did like that with makeup one time. One shade and how it looks on both of our skins. That was really fun. But she's amazing, such an inspiring woman and what she's been through over the last year. You guys are really going to enjoy this.
Nichelle: She is truly a gem, Brittany. Meeting her in person, oh my goodness, I could feel what a good person she was. This is such a special and heartfelt episode today. Not only because Nasreen is sharing about her blogging journey, but she's also sharing about her journey overcoming a Stage 4 Triple Positive Breast Cancer diagnosis.
Brittany: Last year when she received that diagnosis, she decided that she was going to openly share as much as she felt comfortable and she touched so many people during that process. I will never forget, we kind of had a moment in our office when she got on and she shared a reel or a video that was just explaining what they had been going through. And I remember it was like a kick in the gut and I think so many people were just like, "oh my gosh, this can literally happen to anybody and she's the nicest person. How is this happening to her?"
Nichelle: So healthy takes care of herself.
Brittany:Yes. In the conversation that you guys are about to listen to, we just talk about her diagnosis, what she's been through, how you can support somebody who's going through a similar journey and just how this has really shifted her perspective on life. I mean it was such a great conversation.
Nichelle: It's a very heartfelt conversation and I hope that it makes us all hold our loved ones just a little bit closer this holiday season. I hope you guys enjoy Brittany's conversation with Nasreen.
Brittany: Hi Nasreen, how are you?
Nasreen: Hello my friend. It's so good to see you! I'm doing great.
Brittany: I know, I feel like I got to hug you when we were in Texas, in Dallas, for a little while, but I have not seen you in what feels like so long. How has your week been? You are doing all the things on Instagram right now and I need all the details.
Nasreen: I would say that things are very chaotic here. There's been a lot. It's all good things. A lot happening in the last seven days, but all things to be excited about.
Brittany: Yeah. Okay, so can we talk about this fabulous party that you guys had over the weekend? Y'all renewed your vows?
Nasreen: We did and it was literally the best night ever. I feel like everybody has to do this, because think back to your original wedding. Nazim and I got married, it's actually been a really long time, we've been married for 16 years. So we had always said that we were going to do this big anniversary party during our 15 year anniversary, but last year I was going through all the things, so we didn't do it last year and we were like, "you know what? We're going to do it this year." So we just had this big blowout party with all our high school and college friends and it was a reunion and literally the best night.
Brittany: All the photos that were being posted over on Sunday, I was like, this looked amazing. And you having your kids there and their involvement in this ceremony,
Nasreen: It was so special to have them there. Nazim and I wrote our vows, we exchanged vows with them and then, at your wedding you exchanged rings, and in this we did a band for ourselves and then we got the kids each like a keepsake, the girls a little necklace. I was so happy that they were a part of it because I felt like, I don't know, hopefully it'll be a really good example for them as they're getting older and getting into relationships and just being able to see all of it. I think they had so much fun too. Sophia did not want to leave the party.
Brittany: That's so funny. She was not ready to go.
Nasreen: No, it was midnight and we were like, "Soph, if it's time to go," my parents were there, so they said "Papa's picking you up." And she's like, I don't want to go." I'm like, "girl, you gotta go. It is late."
Brittany: You've never seen midnight before. That's so funny.
What was your favorite part of the whole night?
Nasreen: Oh my gosh. So after we did the vows, we had picked a new song for our family and it was that Steven Sanchez "Until I Found You" song, which if you haven't heard it, it's literally one of those songs that the second I hear it, I don't know, it just gets me in inside. We did a little family dance, just all of us together on the dance floor and I just remember looking out, I could make me tear up just thinking about it and seeing all of our closest friends and it was just so special.
Brittany: Gosh. Okay, I'm going to cry, we're not even five minutes into this conversation.
Nasreen: It was just such an emotional night. I feel like it felt like celebrating an anniversary, yes, but really just celebrating life and how far we've come. So it was awesome. We had the best time.
Brittany: So tell me, how long have you been blogging?
Nasreen: So I started this kind of slowly, when my youngest, who's now six, she was one, so about five years. And it feels like a whirlwind. I'm sure you feel the same way when you look back you're like, whoa, what just happened here?
Brittany:I know I'm coming up on seven years right now and I think back and I feel like part of the time was a blur, but then I feel like I've been in the last two years for such a long time. Producing content has shifted. I mean we used to just take outfit photos and do stories and now there's so much video and we create so much content every time we go to create one piece and it's just so different.
Nasreen: But that is so true. I feel like before I would really just be able to wear my outfit in real time and go meet my girlfriends for lunch and "hey will snap an outfit photo for me?" and it was my content. And now it's a lot more planned, which is nice in some ways when you have a family that you're not trying to get the photo when you're on your way to dinner with them or that sort of thing. But I also do miss that in some ways. Don't you just miss the authenticity that came with that?
Brittany: Yes! So for some of our listeners who maybe haven't seen your stuff on Instagram, do you mind telling them a little bit about what your favorite things to post are and your niche? I always love your beauty tips. I remember when we did that reel, the beauty one where we did the same makeup.
Nasreen: Yeah, with Sephora.
Brittany: That was right before your diagnosis. Like the week before or something like that. Okay, we'll get into that in a second, but I want our listeners to know a little bit more about what you love posting.
Nasreen: So if I had to pick one thing that was my favorite thing to post, it would definitely be beauty. I love all things beauty, makeup, skincare, hair, all of that. And then I share a lot of just petite friendly fashion. I'm petite obviously, so I feel like a lot of my audience that follows is looking for options that work for their body type, too. And I don't necessarily shop petite clothing lines, I just find what works. So it works for others that follow who aren't petite as well. So that's kind of the beauty of it all. But yeah, fashion, beauty, and I share a little bit of home stuff. That's something that I'll probably start sharing a lot more of now. And then family life, I have two girls and a boy, three kids. And so I share a lot of their little outfits and things like that.
Brittany: You just recently won the Fashion All Star Award at the LTK Conference, which was so amazing and so well-deserved. What did that mean to you?
Nasreen: Oh gosh. Well you saw me accept that award, I was a mess. I truly did not expect that at all. No lie, I was just like, "oh wow, how cool to be nominated." But never in a million years would've thought, especially with a group of women in that category. But it did mean so much. I think because this last year, and I know you said we'll get into all of that, but I didn't feel like myself fully ever. These things don't define you necessarily, but it still changes you a lot. And I really didn't feel like I looked like what I wanted to look like anymore. My content changed a lot this last year. So to still be recognized in that category and for my followers to show up and vote for me like that, it was really meaningful to me.
Brittany: Yeah, I think one thing I recognize as a follower of yours and in your community, the amount of grace that your followers extended to you, but also just wanted to be there to support you. It was just so evident that people were like, "I want to show up for her." And so I feel like that award is almost a way that kind of really proved that. So that's been cool just as an outsider, to watch other people just pour into you.
Nasreen: What we do is so interesting because you have this big audience, but it still feels so small. It really feels like a sisterhood in so many ways. I don't think I really realized or even knew the value of that until the last year. I don't think you truly realize how much people love and adore you and you realize, wow, these people really cared. Because there was definitely a time when all of this first happened that I was like, "I don't think I'm going to do this job anymore. I need to take a step back." But I'm so glad that I didn't.
Brittany: So Nasreen, tell us a little bit about your Breast Cancer diagnosis and what it was like when you first received the news and just kind of everything you felt in the beginning of hearing that you had Breast Cancer.
Nasreen: So to go back, I had turned 40 the year of COVID, I have a December birthday. And so the next year would be when I would've gone for my first mammogram. To get in to do that sort of thing was unbelievable. I think I was able to see my doctor in May or July and then to get in for my first mammogram was September. So I wasn't able to do that until September. And I went for my very first mammogram, 40 years old, the healthiest I could have possibly been in my eyes. Not a question that anything would be wrong, truly nothing, not even an inkling. And I found out that I had had Breast Cancer. They saw something and it was, I mean they saw it right away. It was just bad news from the very beginning. There's a rating scale that they do at your mammogram if they do find something, and it's a one through five, five being like 95+ percent chance you have Breast Cancer, and that's what mine was. So I felt really lucky because I had a few friends in Oncology and Radiology that I could send things to and they were able to accelerate and get me into my Oncologist. Everything happened so fast. From my diagnosis to when I started treatment was days. Just days.
It was devastating, completely devastating to not just me, but literally my entire family. We were just in complete shock.
Brittany: Do you have a history of Breast Cancer in your family?
Nasreen: No. So after you're diagnosed with this sort of thing and you're in treatment and you're doing all these things, they do a lot of different testing. So they tested me for all the genetic components. I was negative for all of those. There are many, many, many more genes being studied these days. So they actually test you for way more than what we have data on right now. So they keep that in their back pocket so that in the future if they find, hey, this gene is shown to increase your risk of cancer and if I carry that, then this is what can be done about it sort of thing. So for my daughters and my sisters and all of that. But no, I don't have a family history of this. And I've found after talking to so many women now that most of us who have this early diagnosis don't have family history.
Brittany: Yeah. It's so crazy. I have three friends right now who are going through the same, yours is the Triple Positive.
Nasreen: Triple Positive Breast Cancer.
Brittany: Theirs is too. Isn't that such a rare form?
Nasreen: I think it's kind of mixed, but it is not uncommon for Breast Cancer to be hormone driven these days. So mine is 100% hormone driven by Estrogen Progesterone. So looking back, I can't help but wonder, if it was all hormone driven and my hormones, everything's been tested, I've had three kids, where did this get lost? Because when I got diagnosed, I didn't just have Breast Cancer, I had Metastatic Breast Cancer, which is really bad. It was really bad. Many people don't survive that. These days, there's a lot of treatment options. But what that means, basically, is that mine had spread through my lymph nodes to my liver. So it was Stage 4 Metastatic Cancer. I just was very, very fortunate that my cancer responded so quickly and amazingly. And of course that took a lot of work on the other side of things, just trying to do everything I could in my power to help my recovery. But yeah, I mean it's really shocking how many women are diagnosed with this, not just at a young age but with advanced disease.
Brittany: So can you tell me a little bit about the treatment that you received and if you had any type of mantras or sayings that kept you going through your hardest days and give some inspiration or hope for maybe somebody who's going through this right now?
Nasreen: I think for me, the biggest thing was to just keep my eye on the prize. I have to be here for my kids, there is no other option. They are my why. That's what I would always say. They're my why, there's no other option than to fight this. My oncologist, I also remember saying something to me and it stuck with me so much. "If you can keep your mind healthy, you are going to be okay. You've got to stay strong. You've got to do everything you can for your mind and have the will to fight. Because if you don't have the will to fight, your body will give out." Because these treatments are very intense. I went through six rounds of pretty intense therapy, which was two chemo drugs combined, plus targeted therapy. So it was pretty intense. It was six rounds. I went once every three weeks for that, and I was pretty much out for one week after each treatment. Then once I completed that, I went for my surgery, which was a very massive surgery. I did a Double Mastectomy, deep flap reconstruction, which is basically where they use your own stomach tissue to create new breasts for you instead of going the implant route. And then I also removed my ovaries in that surgery. So it was a big surgery and I did it all at once, which was a lot. But it was what I really wanted to do and my doctors were on board with it, my surgeons and all of that. And then after I completed that, I went through 28 rounds of radiation. Gosh. So it was a lot.
Brittany: Yeah. It's been a year for you.
Nasreen: Yeah. January 31st was the day that I finished my last chemotherapy. But I started treatment on October 18th, 2021. So we're a little over a year past my cancerversary.
Brittany: It's so crazy. I feel like you brought so much awareness by sharing your story on Instagram. I hadn't really seen anybody share just as open and raw. And I think that must have helped so many people.
Nasreen: I do believe it has. And I think that's really why I kept on, because at first I said, "I can't do this. How am I supposed to be here filming a try on when I have no hair? And I have no breasts." And just when I'm not going to feel good or look good. And then I quickly realized that this was so much more than that and that doing my job was going to keep my mind sane. And it was going to give me a reason to get up and get ready and do these things that I love doing and give me an outlet of happiness. And then give an example for my kids as well, to overcome some of those hurdles and things like that. So, once I decided that and decided to share things openly, I felt like the biggest weight lifted off my shoulders. And I have been reached by so many women saying, "I found my cancer because of you." I've been reached out by oncologists that follow me, by OBGYNs that follow me that literally ,their patients came in saying, "I follow this girl on Instagram, this is what happened to her. I want a mammogram." And they have found their cancer that way. So I feel that this was meant to be my story and it was meant to have an impact in some way. And that's why this all happened. That's really what I believe.
I've had my moments for sure. Of course. Like, "why me, why now?" All of that.
Brittany: Which is completely normal. Everybody going through Breast Cancer, any type of cancer, any type of illness is like," why is this happening to me?" But I think it's like how can you overcome that?
Nasreen: But I also feel like generationally, in my generation, I don't feel like I knew a lot about this. I didn't know the proper way to do a breast exam, perfectly honest, I did not do that regularly. And I'm hopeful that because of everything that's out there now and my daughter's awareness level that they will always do that. I think about my girls all the time, that this happened to me so it doesn't happen to them.
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When some of our friends here were diagnosed earlier this semester, I feel like all of the girls in our friend group said, "we've gotta go get mammograms." Because at some point people think, "oh that's not going to happen to me. Or I don't feel anything." But it happened to her and it happened to her and it happened to her. And they're all people in our friend group.
Nasreen: That is the one message I would love to continue to spread is if it can happen to you, it can happen to anyone. So do everything you can to stay on top of that. How guilty are so many of us for not staying on top of our health because we're so busy with being a mom and being a wife and being an entrepreneur and all of these things? We don't have extra time. So when you think about going and waiting in a doctor's office for two hours before your appointment, we don't have time for it. I did stay on top of those things, but I still didn't find mine until it was Stage 4 Metastatic. Imagine if I didn't go to that appointment, I would not be here today. And I feel very strongly about that. And my doctor said the same thing, if it had passed to another major organ, my story would be a lot different.
Brittany: It just gives me chills. Like what you said, you've found comfort in sharing this story and that's kept you going. And I think that's the example that some people love to see.
I saved everything on my Instagram so there's people that even reach out now and say, "I found you because a friend of a friend said, and so I started cold capping because of you." Because I did that cold capping to save some of my hair.
Okay tell me about cold capping a little bit more because I've watched from your stories and then I was showing it to my friend Ashley, who you've talked to, because she wasn't sure if she wanted to go through the process. So I told her, "go back to Nasreen's Instagram and she has this whole saved highlight." So can you walk me through the process and for those who don't know what it really means, what exactly happens?
Nasreen: Yeah. So I had never heard of this ever, but I know that for most women, including myself, one of the first things when they told me I had to do chemo, it was devastating to me because I knew I was going to lose my hair. And as a woman, that's just really hard. And I don't know a single woman who's gone through this that said, "oh I didn't care. It was fine." I was like, "take my breasts, take my ovaries, just let me keep my hair." That's what I wanted. I just wanted to look like me. And with young kids, I was so scared of how they were going to feel. So for me it was a decision that I made for multiple reasons. But there is a process called cold capping and there's different kinds. I used one called Paxman, and basically it's this ice cap that you put on your head during chemo and it brings your hair follicle, your scalp temperature to a certain degree so that the chemo does not get to your hair follicles. It is not 100% successful. Clearly. I lost a lot of hair, I lost about 70% of my hair. But it allowed me to now only being 10 months out from chemo, I have hair extensions, I'm able to look as close to what I used to look like as possible. And even during, I wore a hat, I mean you saw, I was wearing a hat the majority of the time, and I didn't need to wear a wig every day. I loved my wig but it didn't feel like me. No matter how great of a wig it is, it doesn't feel like you. So it's something I really don't regret doing, but it was a grueling process. My gosh. I mean for about 15 minutes you just have major brain freeze, that's the word I'm looking for. And then it wears off actually, you're completely numb to it. So after 15 minutes, you didn't feel it a ton. And it was, I think a lot of pressure on my husband because he was the one helping me do it and my sister and the nurses. And I'm glad I did it. I did lose a ton of hair still, but I wouldn't go back because I felt like it gave me a small piece of normalcy that I wouldn't have had otherwise.
Brittany: I remember seeing photos of you wrapped in blankets and then it almost looked like a helmet getting put on.
Nasreen: Yep, it was a helmet and then it's like this ice thing and then you put this other thing on top to keep it extra cold and then your whole body is freezing. So I had these heated blankets. They give you all different kinds of medications while you're doing chemo because of different reactions you can have and stuff like that. So they would give me Benadryl and Ativan and this and that. So soon enough I was knocked out, I was like, "I'm asleep, I'm going to sleep, do this treatment." And my husband would be checking on me and saying "are you okay?" That's another thing about this whole process is I have really learned so much about myself, but also my relationship, my family, my parents, my friendships. You really do value things in a completely different way after going through something like this. And I'm sure the friends of yours that you have that are going through it, I mean you've raised so much awareness, Brittany, you really have, you've raised so much funding, you've done a lot. And I don't think that everybody realizes how much that means to people that are going through this. I'm sure you know from hearing from them, but even just someone from the outside watching the things you've done, it's really, really amazing. So thank you. because it makes a difference. It really does. And I'm sure your friends feel so supported by you.
Brittany: I feel like sometimes I don't know what I can do. I feel like I'm not the "bring a meal to somebody" type of person, but I thought "what can I do?" And I really sat down and I was thinking, "okay, how can I support with the resources that I have?" And so I feel like, while it was probably different than all of our other friends, I thought, "let me lean into some of my strong suits and how can I get the word out and let's raise some awareness." But I guess on that topic, what would you say for somebody who has a friend going through Breast Cancer that's thinking, "I just don't know how to support them or what should I do for them or how can I help?" What advice would you give to that person?
Nasreen: I think there is something about this process that is extremely isolating because you feel like nobody understands what you're going through except for you and maybe your husband. Your spouse if you have one. I think to feel that you're not forgotten during this time is really valuable. I had friends who wouldn't take no for an answer, "I'm coming over." "no, I don't feel..." "no I'm coming over." Things like that. And it doesn't have to be a meal, it can literally be like, "hey, can I come over and can we go on a walk? Can I take you out on a walk? Can I come pick up your kids? Can I go pick them up from school?" Just knowing that you have the support really goes so far. It doesn't have to be a gift, it doesn't have to be bringing a meal. It doesn't have to be any of those things. While those are all helpful, blankets and things like that. People want to get, that's all wonderful. But I think just being there and showing up.
And I think I learned a lot during that time about friendships too. And nobody knows what to do and it's nobody's fault. I didn't know what to do. Looking back, I had one other friend who went through a similar process to me and then another friend who went through a different variation and I look back and thought, "I was a terrible friend. I had no idea what she was going through." Nobody does until you go through it. But that's my one piece of advice is just be there. Just don't let them feel that everybody else has just gone about their merry way living their "easy, carefree" life and you're just literally in Hell. That's how it feels.
Brittany: Yeah. I remember when one of my friends first got her diagnosis and I was like, "I want to text her and just let her know I'm thinking about her." And then I was thinking, "what kind of questions should I ask?" And I just said, "you know what, if I'm thinking about her, I'm just going to text her and say, 'you know what? I don't know what you're going through today, but I'm thinking about you just want to let you know you're on my mind.'" And then sometimes conversation would just get started and I could tell she didn't even want to talk about what was going on cancer related. She wanted to talk about something completely different and wanted somebody to talk to without it always being, "how are you feeling? Well what's going on?" I'm sure you felt the conversation always gets brought back to, "well how do you feel? How is today going?" And I always noticed she has liked just alternate conversation.
Nasreen: And part of you, the question of "how are you doing?" You're not good.
Brittany: You're like "It's obvious."
Nasreen: It's hard to say that, people don't want to hear that. So I remember just saying, "I'm good, I'm good." But you almost feel like you want to protect everybody around you and just act like you're fine when you're not. So sometimes it's harder to talk to people than it is to just isolate yourself. And so I think what I learned during that time, what was helpful were the people that were just like, "I'm coming over. We're going to do something. I know you're not okay. We're going to go do this." It's okay to not be okay. And it's okay to tell people that. I learned that earlier on. Even my parents, I'd be like, "I don't want them to worry about me. They're too old. They're going to be stressed." And I finally had to say, "I'm not okay. Stop asking me if I'm okay, because I'm not okay." And then I also just think that because it's so isolating and because you feel alone, to not be alone sometimes is actually really good for you.
Brittany: It kind of reminds you of what you're fighting for.
It goes full circle.
Nasreen: Absolutely. And you also, people going through this find that they'll gravitate towards people that maybe it surprised them. I was reconnected with, we've always been wonderful friends, but some of my oldest friends, because of everything I went through we're just as thick as thieves again, just rekindled. We all have such busy lives. We live in all different states and now we're planning things to see each other more. It really means a lot to have the people who love you and care about you rally around you.
Okay. You mentioned on Instagram about a nurse, Nurse Teresa.
Nasreen: Oh my gosh, yes!
Brittany: Can you tell us a little bit about Nurse Teresa?
Nasreen: Teresa is still someone I talk to almost every single week. She still does my infusions. Part of my treatment is I still have to go back every three weeks pretty much indefinitely for the rest of my life to get maintenance therapy unless hopefully one day there's another option as they do this. But the maintenance therapy that I get is pretty tolerable now for me. Initially it wasn't, but now it is. I don't really have many side effects from it. But Teresa, I walked out of my oncologist's office on October 5th I think it was. And she was standing right there and she saw what I looked like. We were like a deer in headlights. Me and my husband just hadn't slept in days, completely bare boned, we were in really bad shape. And she just goes, "can I hug you?" And I was like, at that point I was just crying and whatever. She's said, "I follow you on Instagram and you have helped me through some of my hardest times and I'm going to be here for you." And she was. She really was. She's going to listen to this and she's going to start crying now too. But she's still just there.
Brittany: That's amazing.
Nasreen: She just helped. Nurses are so incredible. They make the big difference in our lives. I again, don't think I realized the value of a wonderful nurse until I had one. She's just been so loving and so supportive and always checking in on me. And she made a difference. She really did.
Brittany: I'm sure the bond that you guys have, the fact that you get to continue to spend time with her. I mean obviously you don't want to be going in for these appointments but I'm sure you're like, "okay, there's a sense of familiarity. She's been with me this entire time supporting and loving me."
Nasreen: And we get together outside of that now and we talk outside of that about completely unrelated things. We're texting and she's just someone who made such an impact on my life because, just to show someone that's really a stranger, even though maybe I wasn't a complete stranger to her because she had been following me, but really she didn't know a ton about me. But to do that for somebody I think really shows what kind of person she is and it's made me want to do that for other people. When your friend was going through it, it makes me just want to help anybody going through this because no one gets it. You know? You don't get it until you get it. She's really an incredible person.
Brittany: I think we have such a unique opportunity to touch lives that we don't even know that we're touching just based off of people who are following along. But that also makes you just want to be aware of what you're doing and how you're doing things. And I mean the way you respond back and I don't know, I just always think about you never know what somebody's going through and you could be this bright spot for somebody no matter just if you're in Target or wherever.
Nasreen: Absolutely. You're so right. That's really is so true. You never know what kind of difference you might make in somebody's day. And I mean she literally made the biggest difference that exact day. I was starting chemo days after I left there. So she sent me a list of, "okay, this is what you need to do and you're going to hear all this from your oncologist, but I'm going to send it to you anyway because I want you to ask me any questions." And she was just incredible. My gosh. To do that for somebody. And she doesn't just do that for me. This is her. This is who she is.
Brittany: Wow. She sounds like an amazing woman.
Nasreen: She really is. She really is. They're really lucky to have her there. They really are.
Brittany: So I know you've talked with my friend Ashley a little bit about wigs. We were sitting at dinner and she said, "I think I want to get a wig." And I told her about you and just, I said, "Nasreen's wig is the most realistic wig that I had ever seen. You've got to just look into it and if you want me to give you her phone number, I'll ask her." And her wig looks amazing. I was with her the other night and it looks so natural.
Nasreen: They're amazing. The wigs are from The Wig Fairy, who I actually found through Dani Austin when she was going through hair loss stuff, she shared them a lot. And so my hair stylist that has been doing my hair for years in Austin, she's another incredible woman who, just the kindness that people show you during this time is really unbelievable. Really makes you want to be a better person and do those things for people and pay it forward. But Melanie is her name, she owns a hair salon here called Deep Roots and she was just incredible. She was like, "let me figure out your wig." Because at first I said, "I don't need a wig. I'm not going to lose my hair." Yeah. After one treatment and it was all over everywhere. I was like, "okay, I think this is not going the direction I thought it was going to go". But she took pictures of my hair, sent The Wig Fairy photos and gave them all the color info she'd been doing for me and they made the wig incredible. And then Melanie, once they got it here, she cut it just like my hair. It really was a beautiful wig.
Brittany: I feel like hers is very similar to what her hair was, and it's almost like you need that sense of "I'm still here." One of our other friends, she opted for a completely different hairstyle, different color. She said, "if I'm going to do this, I'm going to have options." And so it's so funny to see which wig she's going to wear.
Nasreen: That wasn't me. But I wish looking back now, right, knowing that it's temporary because everyone tells you it's temporary, it's just hair. None of those things are helpful in the time of you're in it because it feels like the end of the world. It really does. But looking back now, I wish I had a little more fun with it.
Brittany: Do you have any New Year's goals or resolutions coming for this upcoming year? Just kind of knowing what you've been through, any perspective shifts on what you want to do?
Nasreen: I think for so many years, and probably partly because of what our job entails, I have watched my life pass me by in so many ways. I have gone through the motions and my kids' lives. Of course I spend so much time with them, and of course I love being with them, but I want to really disconnect from the outside world sometimes too. And I haven't done that. So for the very first time, I know you, you've inspired me by the way, Brittany, to do this because you've taken little social media breaks. For the first time in almost six years I am taking a week off!
And I want to do more of that going into the new year. My goal is to really learn to really live and not just live, you know what I mean? I want to really enjoy my life. Not that I didn't before, but I just think I was stuck in a monotony of daily things, like "okay, I gotta do this, I gotta do this, I gotta do this. Okay, dinnertime, bathtime, okay bedtime." It's just constant. But I think all of us are guilty of that when you have a family or not, even when you have a busy job. But I don't want to do that anymore. So, in the new year I'm looking to really take what this whole experience has taught me and put it into real life changes and real life motion.
I'm proud of you. You're going to be so refreshed when you come back and I feel like it is going to give you such intentional time with your family that you're not having to be like, "oh is it time to post? Let me get on and just do this really fast." And I feel like once you do it once you're like, "oh I'm going to schedule this in one for the summer, I'm going to schedule this in another time before things get crazy in the holiday."
Nasreen: I think this is the only job that people feel like they can't take a vacation. Because it's really just constant, there's constantly something to do and things you owe brands and things that campaigns you've committed to. So I'm like, "you know what? I need to be really intentional now with my family."
Brittany: Yeah. I'm taking two weeks off coming up after Christmas and I'm so looking forward to it, because it's so true. Even just in the busyness of having young kids, it just feels like there's so much routine and you're just going in the motions and then you stop and look back and you're like, "what have I been doing for the last six months? I know I've worked but my kids are doing this. Did I even fully take in their little recital or their love for basketball right now?" I don't know. I think you have to really think about that and what's important in your life.
Nasreen: And as your family grows, we have three kids, I've found I feel very spread thin a lot of times, and when you get that time to be one-on-one with your individual kids, I'm sure you can relate to this too, you're like, "gosh, they're such a cool human being. If I want to know every single detail that comes out of their mouth, then I want to really soak it up."
Brittany: That's such a sweet time.
Nasreen: Because it happens so fast!
Nasreen: I mean I can't believe my youngest, Sophia, is six.
Brittany: I can't either.
Nasreen: Yeah, I mean when you guys all met her online, she was like a baby in her crib. Same thing with Collins and Hazel. They're just getting so big.
Brittany: It is so crazy. Anytime I see people who send DMs, and you know how sometimes you can see previous messages and it's like baby photos or baby of Collins.
Nasreen: Yes, it's mind blowing.
Yeah! Like this feels like it was just yesterday and I'm like timestamp like three years ago.
It happens so fast and my son's taller than me and almost a teenager and I'm like, "where has the time gone?" It's crazy.
Brittany: Yeah. I feel like once they get to where they're going to be driving in a few years...
Nasreen: I cannot handle that. Just the thought of that is very terrifying actually.
Brittany: You have some time.
Nasreen: Yes, I have a few more years.
Brittany: So on this season of the podcast, I'm ending each of our conversations by asking the guest, "what is the most meaningful act of kindness that somebody has extended to you that has had a lasting change in your life?" I feel like we've heard a few things that you've said, but is there any specific examples of something that really stuck out to you that you want to extend to other people?
Nasreen: I think it all kind of goes into the same theme, but I was connected with a friend of a friend when I was first diagnosed and that girl, my gosh, she quite literally carried me through my entire recovery. Sending me pictures of her, and sending me details, connecting me with this research person and that radiation, if you want a second opinion, she was like my personal therapist. Her name is Angie and she just showed me so much love during that time that I needed somebody to really commiserate with. And she really understood it because she had gone through it. And I think that was a really big learning lesson for me. And that's why because, when you reached out about your friend or other friends with, "can I connect you? I'm so sorry to bother you." And I'm like, "are you kidding me? Sorry to bother me? This woman is going through the worst thing in her life. Please give her my personal phone number. Have her call me." It was a turning point for me because before, if it was something else, obviously completely unrelated, I'd maybe not have the time for that kind of stuff, but it's taught me a lot about support for other people even though life gets so busy because we are all guilty of just being self-consumed.
Brittany: Yeah. I know that you have helped Ashley so much and I can only imagine all the people that you're helping that are just followers who you've said have found your Instagram or their friends sent it to you and then they got tested.
Nasreen: Sometimes people need someone to relate to in this. And I think that is really what it comes down to. Human connection, which we forget is kind of how social media started. At one point, it was really just about connecting to people. And I think that when you're going through anything, not just cancer, but anything in your life, these big moments, you're craving relating to somebody and connecting with somebody. And I think the power of that in social media is really, really incredible.
Brittany: Well, I just want you to know how much I love you as a friend and I'm so proud of everything that you have continued to do throughout the last year and just the way you've handled everything. You showed up for your community and it's just been amazing to watch, but I'm so thankful to call you an actual friend on the other side of things.
Nasreen: I love you too, and I'm so thankful for your support. You've been amazing throughout all of this and it really means a lot, so thank you.
Brittany: Well, for our Life with Loverly listeners, you guys can find Nasreen on Instagram @heynasreen. We will leave all of the details to her blog and to her Instagram in the show notes so you guys can be sure to check her out.
Thank you again Nasreen so much. I think this episode is going to be so amazing. I know it's going to touch so many different lives.
Nasreen: Thank you so much for having me. Truly, it was a pleasure!
Brittany: All right friends, we will talk to you soon. Until next time!
Hi friend! I hope you enjoyed this episode on the Life of Loverly podcast. Be sure to snap a screenshot on your phone during your favorite part of the episode, post it to your Instagram stories, and tag us @lifewithloverly. I love seeing what's resonating with you and reposting to spread more kindness along the way. See you next week, friend!
This season of Life with Loverly is produced by Elizabeth Evans Media Productions.