I’m in a book!!!!

I am so humbled and honored that I was asked to be a part of this wonderful book.


25 Women Who Survived Cancer: Notable Women Share Inspiring Stories of Hope.

Please check it out on Amazon, all of the proceeds go to cancer research!!


Here is my story:


Strength in Sensitivity

I am sensitive.

I have always been sensitive.

I was told by a psychologist friend of mine that we are born with the five senses that are used both to help protect ourselves and make us aware….

Well, I’m aware all right.

I can remember one time when I was a child, while my grandparents were babysitting me, I somehow got away with watching a terribly inappropriate show on television. I was so incredibly sensitive, and this show was apparently so upsetting that I threw up my very exciting, not-normal-to-have-for-dinner McDonald’s hamburger all over the living room floor. Now, thinking back to the early ‘60s, I’m not sure what show could have been upsetting enough to cause that kind of a reaction, but that just proves to you how sensitive I was.


But for some reason, I always thought of this sensitivity as my little secret. One that I needed to hide away as if it were something to be ashamed of. I guess my little acting job wasn’t so great because it forced this secret of mine out into the open. People were always saying things like “Jeez, you are soooooo sensitive, toughen up!” It would catch me by surprise because I was certain that my “tough girl” performance was worthy of some kind of award.

To be perfectly honest, all of my greatest strengths in life are connected to this sensitivity and yet I am just now actually accepting and admitting it. Dare I say it out loud….?

I am sensitive.

I have always been sensitive.

So, I am going along in this life of mine, being sensitive yet hiding it badly, all while trying to function day to day and pretending to be strong. Growing up, getting married, growing up more, having a child. Growing up even more, getting divorced, growing up more — again. Many heartbreaks, real and exaggerated, therapy off and on, classes, jobs, self-awareness seminars, meditation, life…and then cancer…

Hmm…. Did I just say cancer? Well that wasn’t part of the plan. Certainly not anything I ever thought I would experience. How is a “closet” sensitive girl supposed to handle this?

With strength, of course. Since I am NOT sensitive! I will just move forward with this new experience as if it were No. Big. Deal….! I told my doctor to be aggressive with my treatment, and aggressive he was. His exact words were, “You are strong enough to handle it.” And, unbeknownst to me, I was.

Even so, it was still kind of hard. Actually, it was really hard, and it constantly reminded me of my little secret that I wanted to keep to myself, all while putting on a brave face. I just wanted to keep my head down and get through it without bothering anyone along the way. I didn’t want to be too much of an inconvenience, (this coming from a very newby strong girl).

I am sensitive.

I have always been sensitive.

My treatment went very well. I had no complications to speak of, except the fact that I was battling cancer in the first place. However, during this whole cancer process, an evolution happened. Nobody told me to expect this part. My nurses and doctors were so wonderful, explaining every medical step along the way, but never once acknowledging that I’d experience deeper changes. I guess it could be because they were busy trying to save my life. Okay, I’ll give them that one. They did a pretty damn good job. But these changes, these deep-to-the-core-of-your-being changes, were never mentioned.

For those experiencing cancer, let me try and explain.

These changes can manifest themselves in many different ways. When you find out you have cancer you have to re-define how you see yourself. Your idea of beauty, the one that has been instilled in us from day one, has to change. Cancer forces us to accept the often permanent changes in our physical body and recognize our true beauty. Regardless of how much mental planning you do, nothing will prepare you for the moment you see your now- unrecognizable self. Your personal definition of beauty, of health, and of your own mortality all come into play at that moment when you confront your fears and choose to look at it all differently.

But guess what? There is something waiting for you at the end of a very long road. Like digging for buried treasure… and actually finding one.

Now please don’t misunderstand me, cancer is not fun. However, your outlook on the experience and what you choose to do with it is entirely up to you. I decided to make it a prize, an accomplishment, and it is my blessing.

Since this whole cancer thing happened to me, I’ve had the opportunity to do many things I never would have if I hadn’t had cancer. Seriously amazing things. Things my loved ones are proud of. Things that I’m proud of. Sensitive things.  Strong things.

I can now say that I am:

A Survivor.

A Keynote Speaker.

A Published Writer.

A Spokesperson.

A Cancer Beauty Expert.

A Thriver.

Now, this growth took a bit of time. My “fabulousness” didn’t just happen overnight. No, it was a process, one that I wouldn’t change for anything. If you asked me even halfway down this road of self-discovery if I would be doing any of this, I would have thought you were nutty. And yet it all happened.

As a professional makeup artist, I’ve had the opportunity to touch and be touched by many different women all sharing the same life experience, connecting at a level so deep it sometimes takes my breath away. The fear, the pain, the changes…all disorienting. But only from this place of surrender are we able to find our balance. That’s where the magic lies. When you find yourself in this place, your life can change. And other lives, too.

The evolution of my cancer experience taught me the amazing pleasure of witnessing countless women rediscover their honest beauty. This insight comes slowly. The long, quiet, personal road you travel on can be both confusing and inspiring. The flashes of “Oh, this is what it’s about” come in calming waves that leave you feeling as if all your conflicting emotions have finally been resolved. You go deeper and deeper until you reach that quiet place, and that sweet spot leaves a smile on your face. You have arrived. You have found your balance between sensitivity and strength.

I am sensitive.

I have always been sensitive.

Okay, so I’ve admitted this out loud. Now what? Well, this secret of mine has given me a lot. I feel things. Lots of things. Like when a woman sits in my chair who has gone through breast cancer. I feel her doubts. I feel her insecurities, her loss, her struggles. Her body has just put her through this very demanding experience and now things have changed. Changed, in my opinion, for the better, although it may not feel this way to her. I’ve been there. It feels foreign and uncharted, like meeting a stranger that seems worthy of friendship but you’re not sure. It just all feels so NEW. Is this woman in the mirror nice? Is she kind? Will she be there when I need her? Will she like me back? Will she love me back? Ah, there it is… it’s always a bit scary allowing yourself to be fully engaged in a new relationship, even with yourself.

She has to get to know this new body like getting to know that new friend. But it takes time to do this. If the friendship is a worthy venture, she just might fall in love, and this is key. She needs to fall in love with this new friend because they will be friends forever. This new connection must be nurtured and cared for like a precious moment; unforgettable.

When I have had the chance to do makeup on someone going through cancer treatment, the opportunity to connect at a deeper level is possible. I explain to them that I have also gone through something similar, and immediately everything shifts. It calms. This newfound camaraderie is very powerful. Typically, these people start out in my chair coming from this uncomfortable place of insecurity. Doubting oneself physically is such a personal and private concern, and a lot of times people feel isolated and even embarrassed, thinking that they were “better” before cancer and treatment forced these physical changes. Well, having gone through this process myself, I have this to say about it. Treatment is vital. However, how we feel about our self image is also vitally important. It can affect our mood, our energy, and even our will to move forward onto a healthy, happy future.

When I am finished with their makeup and we both look in the mirror together, I literally can see the shift happen. It’s a twinkle in their eyes, one of recognition of something new. Of their inner beauty.

They typically say that they look beautiful, as if realizing this for the first time. Or they say that they look like their old selves, only better. Sometimes they tear up….It may even be too confronting that they can’t openly acknowledge how they are feeling at that moment but they will say something to me later. I was actually sent a note one time stating this fact after someone had left my chair because it was just too much for them to comprehend  in that moment.

This reaction has happened across the board, and it is an absolute pleasure to watch this new love affair unfold in front of me. Once you have seen this shift you can no longer deny its existence. It is just that magical and profound.

Reverting back to this secret of mine, the one I am now shouting out loud, I see that it has always been my strength. I just didn’t know it yet, or didn’t know how to use it. But this cancer experience has helped me to fine-tune my strengths. This scary, challenging process has forced me to get in touch with me. It forced me to look at myself honestly and get to know this new me from a different perspective. A deeper perspective. And guess what? I fell in love. Yikes, that sounds goofy, almost embarrassing. Almost, but not really. It actually feels like it’s where I am supposed to be.

Sometimes things fall into our laps gently and other times we trip over the large obstacles right in our path. My cancer was one of these obstacles, and I nearly lost my balance. But in the last ten years, I’ve perfected my step. I’ve exercised, practiced, and actively participated in my life. EVERYTHING in my life now is deep, wiser. I have become best friends with that woman in the mirror, this new me.

So this is why I call my cancer experience a gift. Now, I’m aware that this is a bold statement, one that not everyone agrees with, but it’s how I choose to look at it. And for me it really has been true. It has given me insight that I didn’t have before. I have made amazing new friends, and I have also felt the deep heartbreak of losing some of those friends. I have grown, and I have achieved things I would have never achieved before. I have become strong — no, strongER. I am fully committed to this strength and for me it took this experience to get me there. My cancer journey allowed me the permission to embrace this depth of soul and to fully love and accept myself.

I am sensitive.

I have always been sensitive.

I am strong.

I will always be strong.

I am both, and this is a very good thing.

– Jan Ping