Makeup for Thyroid Patients/Super Dry Skin-Product Test (Continued with Holy Grail find)

Got dry skin? REALLY dry skin? Me too….

I’ve been diligently pursuing my “holy grail” products since June 2016 and it has been a frustrating ride, to say the least.

I have some updates, though, and wanted to share to keep other dry-skinned brothers and sister from wasting money like I did.

All of these are YMMV, of course.

If you want to see my first round of product testing here’s the link.

A quick rundown of my situation:

  • Super mega crazy dry skin
  • Cool pale/classic ivory
  • Slight redness mainly on cheeks, chin, and nostrils (possible mild rosacea? My derm didn’t agree, though)


Now, to the data!

To pick up where I left off, there were some products I wanted to try.


  • Maybelline Dream Smooth Mousse
  • Maybelline Dream Satin Liquid
  • L’Oreal True Match Lumi 
  • MAC Face & Body

Here’s my verdict on these:

Maybelline Dream Smooth Mousse

  • I found this to be a pretty good drugstore foundation for my situation.
  • However, it was still a bit too dry.
  • I found this to be medium coverage
  • The color match was good, and the texture was good, too.
  • I kept this, but am actively trying to sell or trade it because I found something better.

Maybelline Dream Satin Liquid

  • I couldn’t get this in my location, and I gave up in terms of testing this brand

L’Oreal True Match Lumi

  • This was a good foundation if your goal is sheer coverage, but I was looking for medium to full coverage
  • I was not a fan of the color N1-2. I found it to be too dark and there’s not a ‘cool’ in this particular product.

MAC Face & Body

  • I was told by a local makeup artist that this would be too sheer for my goals, so I didn’t bother trying it.


My new favorite store: Sephora

I expanded my wish list after I learned about’s amazing return policy.

They will fully refund any unused or gently used products with or WITHOUT the original manufacturer box and return shipping is FREE from USPS. 

Considering my location this was my best, most economical option.

Here’s my tests from Sephora. I must have been too focused on taking notes on these that I forgot to take my own photos- sorry about that!


All tests included my full skincare routine, a gentle exfoliate with a konjac sponge and primer. 

1. Makeup Forever Ultra High Definition Stick Foundation

Initially I thought this was one of my Holy Grail products, but after a few wearings I accepted it just wasn’t meant to be.

MUFE Ultra HD Invisible Cover (

*115=R230 Ivory

*Medium to full coverage

*Tested with Maybelline Babyskin primer and Laura Mercier Foundation Primer-Hydrating

*I tested with and without color correcting my red areas. I found that it did cover the redness pretty well, but not fully

* Pretty matte by the end of 8 hours

*Didn’t seem to cling to dryness, or my peach fuzz

*I didn’t like the feeling of how thick and heavy it was, even though it can be sheered out with a blender



Verdict: Return

2. NARS Sheer Glow

I hated this foundation. I really, really wanted to love it, but I just couldn’t.

NARS Sheer Glow (

*Mont Blanc  light with pink undertones

*Sheer coverage

*Tested with Maybelline Babyskin primer and Laura Mercier Foundation Primer-Hydrating

*It really attached itself to dryness and peach fuzz

* The color was a bad match for me




Verdict: Return

3. Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation

This was another product that I really wanted to love, but couldn’t stand.

Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation (

*3.75 Fair with Rosy Undertone

*Really sheer coverage

*Tested with Maybelline Babyskin primer and Laura Mercier Foundation Primer-Hydrating

* Took 2 layers just to get so-so coverage

*The color was too light for my skin tone

*Clung to any dryness and peach fuzz

*Didn’t seem to want to blend well (at least for me)

*I didn’t like the fragrance. It smelled nice in the bottle, but I tend to avoid putting products with fragrance on my face, as it makes my red cheeks sting.

*$42 for the TRAVEL SIZE!


Verdict: Return

4. Laura Mercier Silk Creme Moisturizing Photo Edition Foundation

-sigh- another product I wanted to love, but my skin had other plans.

Laura Mercier Silk Creme Moisturizing Photo Edition Foundation

I also thought this was one of my Holy Grail products for lighter coverage days, but in the end I just had to accept reality.

*Rose Ivory


*Tested with Maybelline Babyskin primer and Laura Mercier Foundation Primer-Hydrating

*A bit too sheer

*This seems to be buildable, but for my skin texture and condition building layers of makeup just doesn’t result in a good look for me. YMMV, of course.

*My redness shined through, even with color correcting (though I could have just been using a poorly pigmented color corrector at the time)

*Totally my fault, but I ordered a shade that was just a tad too light

*Clung to my dry patches and peach fuzz


Verdict: Return


Are you ready for my Holy Grail foundation? 

Well, it’s not technically a foundation..but I digress.

After trying a lot of Western foundations I decided to research and test a Korean product.

I found a BB primer that was medium to full coverage and included Hyaluronic Acid, which is a product that promotes moisture and lubricates tissue and is found naturally in the body.


Missha’s  M Perfect Cover BB Cream with SPF 42 PA +++

Missha Perfect Cover BB (from

I wish I had known about product before. This would have saved me so much trouble and frustration!

*Provides great coverage, and covers my redness without color correcting. Even better coverage when I do color correct.

*Tested with Laura Mercier Foundation Primer-Hydrating and The Body Shop’s Drops of Youth Wonderblur (not a fan of the Wonderblur, too hard to work with)

*Cruelty free

*Scented… which is a bummer for me, but not a deal breaker. This scent is light and disappears during the day. It also somehow doesn’t irritate my red cheeks.

*Limited colors, so it’s only an option for fair to medium tones. I’m a Western Ivory, but Missha’s #21 Light Beige is a tad too light, and #23 Natural Beige is a bit  too dark. I’m mixing them to get a better match.

*CHEAP! This cost me less than $20 USD a tube.

So, as of 9/1/2016 this is my Holy Grail in terms of foundation/base.


Have you found your Holy Grail product yet?

Skincare and Makeup for Thyroid Patients/Super Dry Skin-Product Test

I’m on a mission to find the most hydrating medium-to-full coverage makeup for extremely dry skin…starting with drugstore brands.

If you’re in the same situation as I am I hope you’ll join me on this journey and let me know what has worked for you!

About me:

2 years ago I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer and had my entire thyroid removed.

My life has been turned upside down ever since.

I once had normal skin texture with no redness,  hair that didn’t fall out, no dry scalp, and a body that responded to exercise and diet with the appropriate response (weight loss/muscle gain).

Those days are over, apparently… and 2 years later I’m just now starting to come to terms with it.

Lately  I noticed that my skin looked awful in cosplay photos- it was dull, dry, and made me look way older than I really am.

This made me seek out some new information and help on how to choose makeup that isn’t a heavily advertised Japanese BB cream.

I needed something that matched my skin tone and moisturized my now desert-like skin.

I’ll warn you- these images could be disturbing to those who have an aversion to dryness!

About the photos:

  • All applications are on a clean face with PCA moisturizer and Maybelline Baby Skin pore eraser primer underneath.
  • No undereye concealer except for the Skinfood that I had on hand. It’s the wrong color- I’m kinda new to this whole “color correcting” thing.
  • Photos are taken with my phone using the “daylight” setting on my vanity mirror
  • Today I bought Laura Geller’s Spackle primer, though I’m not sure it will make a difference in the end result.

A quick rundown of my situation:

  • Super mega crazy dry
  • Cool pale/classic ivory
  • Slight redness mainly on cheeks, chin, and nostrils
  • Current mood: embarrassed. Thyroid skin is such a hassle!


First things first. I needed a good skincare routine.

Seeing as I never had skin problems before and always just bought whatever the Clinique rep recommended (a generic, normal skin regimen) I had no idea where to start.

At first I was getting regular facials. I thought that was the first step. However, even with the hydrating facials I was left dry.

Then I went to the Korean district of Tokyo and blindly bought whatever the salesperson recommended.

He recommended sensitive skin products  without touching my skin. From a distance it still looks normal, so as you can imagine this was a total fail when I got home.

The only silver lining was that the kit included one of those super soft face brushes. I sold my failed skincare locally and moved on.

Then I bought a trial kit of PCA’s dry skincare products.

So far I’ve been able to stick with it, but I feel that there’s got to be a more moisturizing brand out there. If you have a suggestion, please comment! 

Makeup- the hunt begins:

Earlier I mentioned that my face is now dry. Unless you have a thyroid problem (hypothyroid, hashimotos, no thyroid, etc) then you may just be thinking “winter skin” level dry. Think again.

I am quite sure that my daily dryness is worse than the average person’s worst winter dryness day.

I started researching and found a few leads. I live on a remote military base with very limited products, so unfortunately some of the best suggestions online were nowhere to be found.

I did find a few to test, though.


1. Maybelline Dream Velvet Soft Matte Hydrating foundation

Maybelline Dream Velvet Soft Matte Hydrating foundation

The general rule of thumb based on my research is that if you have dry skin that you want to avoid a matte base because it will make your skin look dull and more dry. I found this to be true, but this was marketed as “hydrating foundation” so I decided to give it a try.

These are my notes from the application: 

 *Doesn’t blend well with dense brush

* Sits on the really dry places

* Feels nice overall, light and doesn’t feel tight

* Lasted about 2 hours before I felt like it got a dull, matte look (it was a soft-matte, after all, so I wasn’t surprised).

Verdict: Changed to Toss


2. Covergirl + Olay Facelift Effect Firming Makeup
My Notes:


Covergirl + Olay Facelift Effect Firming Makeup

*Same blending issue- doesn’t take the dense brush well.

*Used fair tone, might be a shade too light

*Doesn’t seem to cover redness or take the translucent powder under my eyes very well.

*Rubs off when I blow my nose , sweats off

*This felt dry and cakey to me

Verdict: Toss


3. Neutrogena Nourishing Long Wear Makeup with tone correcting complex

 My Notes: 

Neutrogena Nourishing Long Wear Makeup with tone correcting complex

*Blends somewhat with the dense brush. Had to finish with finger tips.

*Feels nice overall, light and doesn’t feel tight

*Kind of deals with my redness

*Has a seriously matte finish, though

*Most expensive of all the foundations I bought

Verdict: Toss






4. Covergirl + Olay Simply Ageless 3 in 1 

I got frustrated and thought I was maybe imagining the redness I kept seeing so I did a half and half makeup comparison.

My Notes:

My right: Neutrogena Nourishing Long Wear Makeup with tone correcting complex My left: Covergirl + Olay Simply Ageless 3 in 1

*Half and half CG+Olay Simply ageless (my left) and Neutrogena (on my right)

*Hard to tell since I’m new to this whole makeup thing, but seems to look more hydrated/shiny/dewy compared to the other side.

*I liked the feeling of the CG, so I’m going to try it again with my new Spackle primer.

*It seems to have more unfavorable chemicals than I’d prefer

Update: tried it with the Spackle primer. Nice and dewy at first, but I felt a change after about an hour or 2. I’m going to give it a go today and see how it does. It’s not tight or flaky..yet.

Update 2: I didn’t realize it at first, but this is a scented product. The third time I tried it I didn’t use any of the other skincare items I was using before because I suspected they caused the tingly redness on my cheeks. Nope, this product made my cheeks kind of tingly and red all by itself.

Verdict: Changed to Toss



5. Covergirl CG Smoothers

My Notes:

Covergirl CG Smoothers

*Didn’t blend very well with brush. finished with hands.

*Dried really matte, feels dry, but not as dry as Neutrogena.

*Doesn’t help with tone evening, cheeks still red even before adding blush


Verdict: Toss




Here’s a few I want to try. They’re unavailable in my area, though, so I’m going to try to find them on Amazon.


  • Maybelline Dream Smooth Mousse- I have tried this since this post and it’s kinda awesome- I’ll update this post later with photos and a review. 
  • Maybelline Dream Satin Liquid
  • L’Oreal True Match Lumi- I have also tried this. I feel it’s so-so, but still a keeper. I’m not a fan of the N1-2 shade, it’s kind of dark on me. I’ll update later on this, too. 
  • MAC Face & Body


Have you found the holy grail of foundations for us super dry skin types?

Do you have a favorite skincare brand that I should think about buying? Please let me know!

My First (and Last) Time to Skydive

In August I had the opportunity to use an event credit I had with a local adventure club, so I decided to use it towards skydiving.

Yes, skydiving.

It has been on my bucket list since I was in middle school, and even though I’m terrified of heights I thought I should do it if I had the chance.

The problem is that my husband exceeds the height and weight limit of skydiving companies here in Japan, so I had to go it alone.

Even though I really wanted him to be there I thought it would be no big deal to go by myself. We had just climbed to the top of Mount Fuji 2 weeks before, so I was sure this would be easy.

Except, it wasn’t. The whole language barrier thing kind of poses a big problem when you’re about to jump out of a plane at about 4,000 meters.

The day started by all of the club members arriving at Fujioka station early in the morning. This is a very small station and the closest store is about a 10 minute walk. It was so early that the store wasn’t open yet, so I started walking around foraging  for breakfast.IMG_0792

Luckily I was able to meet and talk with an older couple who owned a hardware store. My Japanese speaking ability is intermediate, but I was able to ask them if they had any snacks for sale.

Instead they gave me a bag of pastries and snacks and wouldn’t let me pay them. I told them I was skydiving that morning and they wished me good luck and sent me on my way.

I ran back to the station so I could be sure to catch the shuttle to the jump site and made it just in time.

So, we arrive to the site and we get the safety briefing in English. No problem. All of that was very clear.

What wasn’t clear is what would happen once inside the plane and how it would happen. You know, the logistics of who would go first and whatnot.

They were doing back to back jumps that day, so while everyone else was geared up and in the plane I was standing out waiting on my teacher to parachute down, unhook from the last jumper, and hook on to me.

By the time my teacher hit the ground he literally ran to me, strapped my to his chest, and threw me on the plane- no introductions, nothing.

What I didn’t realize (and nobody told me) was that since I was the last person on the plane I would be first one off.

So, we’re up in the air. It’s a hot summer day. We’re all sweating and terrified. I’m sitting on a stranger’s lap and he’s trying to point out mountains and such as we rise higher and higher in this little tin can of a plane.


About this time I’m thinking “hm, maybe I can still change my mind?” but at that same time my teacher threw the plane door open.

What happened next was somehow both simultaneously instant and in slow-mo. The door flew open. I’m thinking “oh, that’s a nice view” but then I realize he’s PICKING ME UP. I guess I’m supposed to be moving by myself at this point but I’m frozen and confused since I didn’t know I was going first.

He sits me on the edge of the plane. I still don’t know what’s happening. Then he throws us out the door. Untitled

My stomach goes up into my lungs. Then I realize I’m seeing the sky. I shouldn’t be seeing the sky. For several days after I thought we were having trouble in the air,  but now I think he was just trying to have fun with me. I was not having fun.

So, after what felt like 5 minutes of facing the sun he jerks my pack and throws me so that I’m under him, facing the ground.

Untitled3By this point I’m already confused about what just happened, it’s hot and muggy, and I’m free falling from 4,000 meters. There really is nothing like feeling the wind hitting you was you plummet towards the earth.

When our neon-green chute caught air we both jerked up  and thought I was going to vomit. But luckily that feeling didn’t last long.

The view parachuting down was nice. However, my teacher thought it would be fun to do some kind of turning left-to-right action, which I had to ask him nicely not to do because I already felt quite sick. IMG_0806

I was so thankful to hit the ground. Everyone else on the trip seemed to have a blast, and I’m glad they did. I, on the other hand, had a headache for the rest of the 1.5 hour train ride home and felt shaky for the rest of the day…but I did it!

I can attest that the sights, sounds, and feelings were certainly unique and something I will always remember, but once was enough for me.

What was the craziest/most adrenaline pumping thing you’ve ever done?

Our First (and Maybe Last) Time to Climb Mount Fuji

My husband and I just did something pretty crazy. We climbed Mount Fuji and reached the summit.

While many people reach the summit each year, this is a big deal because we’re city people.  We’re not outdoorsy. I’m from Arkansas, but have never been camping besides 1 time as a kid, and I didn’t even stay the night.

Needless to say I don’t really do “the great outdoors.” I’m moderately healthy and active, but am recovering from cancer. I exercise and eat well, but I have some obvious health conditions that could have kept me from making it to the top.  David’s much more capable of physical activity and roughing it than I am.

So, that’s who we are and how untrained we are, and here’s our guide on how we climbed Mount Fuji and reached the summit.

How it happened

We had gone back and forth about climbing Fuji. We wanted to do it last year- our first year in Japan- but my cancer diagnosis last summer kept us from climbing since Fuji is only open for climbing in the summer months.

This summer rolled around and David and I had talked more about climbing Fuji. First we planned to go with friends. Then one of my hiker-enthusiast friends suggested I try a shorter 3-4 hour hike. She went with me on my first hike ever at Mount Mitake and wasn’t thrilled about the whole hiking thing (it was a nice place and I had fun with my friends). I’m just not into summer hiking in the humidity.

David and I stopped talking about Fuji after that. Even so, I started doing some stair climbing pretty regularly in addition to other exercise, because I had a feeling we would do what we always do and say “oh, let’s just do it and get it over with.”

And that’s how it happened. We picked a date and I booked a trip with our local military outdoor center so we’d be able to take a bus there and back, get cheap rental gear, and go with strangers. We didn’t know how we’d react to the challenge, so if it resulted in us being hot, tired, and grumpy we didn’t want our mild-mannered friends to see us like that.

In the end, we did it. We reached the summit through determination, pacing ourselves, and supporting one another. It was something that was nice to say we did, but we’d never do it again. Cool experience, and great for team building and such, but for us it was a “one and done” kind of thing.

Before the climb

You’re reading this because you’re either a regular reader (thank you!), or you’re interested in climbing Fuji (thank you!) I’m going to give you a run down of what I saw, what I did, and what worked for me.

I did a great deal of research on climbing Fuji before our climb date. I spent a lot of time reading both official website and personal blogs because I wanted to see what people of all shapes, sizes, and physical conditions said about their experience. I was particularly concerned about my health and endurance post-cancer, so I was looking for as many personal stories as I could find.

Unfortunately I didn’t find many guides, just mostly ” what not to do” in the form of people’s failed ascent stories.

From my experience, being prepared is critical to a successful climb- both physically, mentally, and supply-wise.

  • Research the different paths, too. We took the yellow route, the Fuji-Subaru line trail. We didn’t have an option, this was the route that our group guide chose. This is supposed to be the easiest path, though, so it’s worth noting.
  • Avoid caffeine or alcohol 24 hours before.
  • Tape up your feet with mole skin- the toes, sides of your feet, and heels.
  • Pack your gear, then make sure you have the bare minimum. You can buy water if you drink all of ours.
  • Be mentally prepared to make it to the top, but accept it if your body won’t let you. Don’t be too hard on yourself.


Here’s the supply list that was given to us with a few additions from me:

  • Thick soled hiking boots (casual shoes or trainers are not a good idea, in my opinion)
  • Long sleeved wicking shirt
  • Compression socks-wicking
  • Compression leggings- wicking
  • Wicking shirt
  • Medium size backpack
  • Lightweight rain gear
  • Warm/light fleece jacket
  • Headlamp with extra batteries (if climbing at night)
  • Gators
  • Trekking poles
  • Hat (with visor)
  • Small hand towel
  • Utility gloves (for climbing the vertical rock walls-wicking is best)
  • Water bottle or hydration system (i.e. Camelback)
  • Water (at least 2.0 liter)
  • Light meals (beef jerky/protein, etc.)
  • Aspirin
  • Small First aid kit (some adhesive bandages and ace bandages)
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunblock
  • 3 folded up plastic bags (to keep your things dry & for trash)
  • Small roll of toilet paper
  • Blister kit with moleskin and scissors to cut the moleskin
  • Change of socks
  • Oxygen can
  • Wet tissue (to clean your face after the descent- dust gets EVERYWHERE!)
  • Cotton surgical mask (when dust rises on the descent)
  • Watch & cell phone
  • Camera
  • Map
  • Money for stamps on your hiking stick (each station’s stamp costs at least 300 yen) plus food, souvenirs, etc. I think we took about 30,000 yen (and as many 500 yen coins as we could).

We brought everything on this list except the gator boot covers (wish I had rented them- they’d keep the rocks out of your boots on the descent).

We used everything on this list except for the toilet paper, rain gear and warm jacket. Our long sleeve UnderArmour and gloves were enough for both of us.

I strongly suggest you pack all of these items, and be sure to keep your pack as light as possible. Around 5 pounds was what we were told to pack, but I forgot to weigh it before.

  • As far as food goes- we packed high calorie protein bars and those squeezeable protein gel pouches.
  • Packing your backpack correctly is important, too. I highly recommend a hiking pack instead of a regular backpack because a hiking pack is set up with a ton of pockets and easy to access hooks and pouches.
  • Put the protein meals and yen (to pay for burned stamps on your hiking stick, and other incidentals) in the pockets on your waist belt or shoulder straps for easy access.
  • Put your first aid kid (bring scissors!) in an easy-to-access area. Same with your map, phone, sun screen, and oxygen can. You want to be able to get to these things without taking your pack off, if possible.


I think that getting to the summit was more mental, than physical. I saw several fit-looking young men turn around at the 8th station.

I’m sure there are plenty of other tips from real hikers….but as a semi-athletic non-hiker this is what worked for me.

  • What you want to do is pace yourself and take your time. If you don’t make it to the top, that’s okay. You don’t want to over do it and you don’t want to get altitude sickness. Pushing yourself makes altitude sickness worse and you need to turn around immediately if you feel lightheaded, get a headache, or feel nauseous.
  • Stop for a rest when you need it, but try not to sit down and try to keep it under 5 minutes. We found that stopping for 1-2 minutes frequently helped us regain the strength to keep going.
  • You also want to climb and descend, when possible, in a zig-zag. Instead of walking straight ahead, you zig-zag in a wide pattern and you do it slowly.
  • I don’t know why this works, but I met a elderly man on the mountain who told me he climbs twice a year and he taught me this method. I had heard about it before from my hiking-enthusiast friend, but totally forgot about it and had never done it before until this kind man showed me.
  • When you climb stairs or the rock climbing section of the trail you want to alternate legs that you push yourself up onto.
  • Hydrate. Drink water when you stop for a rest. Even though I drank probably 2 liters of water I didn’t have to use the bathroom until the 7th station on my descent. Your body will thank you for staying hydrated!
  • The trekking poles make hiking SO much easier. Get them if you can.
  • From the 7th station to the 8th station it is about 2 hours of vertical rock climbing. Literally. You’ll need gloves and hiking poles. Sometimes I got so tired that I just climbed with my hands, and that’s okay, too.
  • At the summit you can see several souniveer shops and little resturants. We ate udon at the summit and got a few flags for our hiking stick. They offered to stamp the date on the flags, so that was pretty cool!
  • You can even what is probably one of the world’s highest vending machines and post offices there at the summit.


For me, this was the hardest part. My husband said it was difficult, but not painful like it was for me.

You’ll need your mask or towel here, the dust stirred up by other hikers is very thick. Just a heads up, when you get home you’ll find it in your nose, ears, and hair.

I was wearing rented hiking boots that were fine on the way up (I got a blister around the 8th station, but mole skin did the trick and I didn’t feel it after that). But, on the descent this was a different story. Even though the ends and sides of my toes were taped up very well, the descent wrecked my toes.

The descent is at a steep slope of lava rock from the summit to the 6th station. Some of the slopes had some soft grey rock, and that was easier on my toes because I could dig my heel into it, but the majority was this awful, hard, slippery red lava rock that provided zero comfort.

My toes keeps hitting the ends of the boots with each step. I tried side stepping and zig-zagging, but it didn’t bring any relief to my pain.

In the end I hobbled pathetically down from about the 9th station to the 6th station. My husband carried my pack from the 7th station on, and our guide realized that at my pace I was going to miss the bus. We said that was okay, and that we’d just get a hotel and stay somewhere…but he ran to the base of the 6th station and found some horsemen with ponies I could ride.

It cost something like 16,000 yen (about $130 usd), but I was no longer in pain and it was well worth it. David couldn’t open his wallet fast enough, and I got a pony ride out of the deal… so it wasn’t all bad.

It’s the morning after our trek now, and while my toes and legs hurt I’m not as exhausted as I expected. I kind of expect it to catch up to me tomorrow..but as of right now this semi-capable 14 month-post cancer patient is doing okay. My husband took the day off, but still went to the gym to lift weights. So, that’s how a perfectly healthy person feels the next day.

Final Notes

Just do your research. Take it easy. Respect the mountain, and listen to your body. If you ever climb Fuji, I hope you have a good experience!

Also, please donate 1,000 yen (less than $10 USD) when you see the little booth by the horse pen at the 5th station. It goes to the conversation of Mount Fuji and I heard that many foreigners aren’t donating in recent years. You get a cool button showing you donated and the year, and a free 3-day wifi passcode that works on top of the mountain!

Update: 2 months have passed, and the worst thing that happened to me was that I lost 4 toenails due to the injury I sustained on the descent. We have also been talking about maybe hiking again next year… so…we will see what happens!

My Time on NHK World’s Cool Japan TV Show

“My name is Angela and I have 2 cats.”

Since March I have appeared on 5 episodes of the long-running television show called “Cool Japan” that is broadcast on NHK’s BS1 channel, as well as on their global broadcast called NHK World.

Today I got my first message from a viewer through my blog (thank you for writing, Ich!), and it dawned on me that I should probably post about my experience on the show.

Whenever people find out that I have appeared on the program they always ask me how I got on the show, what it’s like, etc. so, there’s the scoop on it.

I started watching the program when we moved to Japan in November 2013. I enjoyed the show, and watched it almost every week.

Then in June 2014 I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer and during my “surgery summer” I was home recovering, which meant I was able to watch every episode of the show.

During this time I also spent a lot of time online researching and happened to check out the Cool Japan website on NHK. At the very bottom of the site there was a button mentioning they were accepting new cast members, so I thought.. “what do I have to lose?” and I applied sometime in July 2014.

A few months went by without hearing anything. Then around September I got an email asking me to come for an audition. Of course I said yes. The only problem was that I was in Hawaii receiving cancer treatment and would likely not make it back to Japan in time for the audition. I said yes, anyway. I convinced my doctors to let me fly home maybe 2-3 days before my big audition.

I was jet lagged and filled with a low level of radiation. My hair was falling out and I was exhausted. But I made the trip to Roppongi from my city and auditioned. It was awful. The asked me to tell them about myself. I had not been asked that question since being diagnosed with cancer. I stuttered. I said “My name is Angela and I like cats.” I didn’t say where I was from, that I worked for Dell (at the time), that I was married, that I had a master’s degree…none of it. They looked at me like I was nuts.

It was a group audition with 3 other foreigners in my group. They were very genki and  from big metropolitan cities. I was sick and was from a small southern state in America. The audition topic was about night life. In my state nightlife consists of clubbing (which I don’t do), and going to the 24-hour Wal-Mart. We don’t really have anything else that’s open 24 hours, so I had very little to contribute to the conversation.

After the audition I was pulled aside and asked some questions about gachapon machines, but I didn’t feel it was a good audition at all. I was so sick, so I don’t remember much else about it at all.


From my first episode- I was sure I’d never get asked back, so I wanted to be sure and get a picture!

A few more months passed-I assumed I made a fool of myself and would never hear from them again. I was so surprised when I received an invitation in February to appear as a panelist on the topic of Kawaii 2015 that would tape in March. I went. I talked. I had a blast.

It was so much fun! I couldn’t believe that I was sitting just a few feet away from people I watched on television every week. It was surreal and I turned into a fangirl for a moment.

Then I taped the other episodes I mentioned earlier.




For those interested, my episodes so far have been:

Kawaii 2015


Edged Tools




It’s been a really fun and exciting summer, and I’ve really appreciated the opportunity to work on the show. I’m not sure if I’ll be asked back in the future, but I will always cherish my memories and experiences from the episodes I’ve done so far! I’m feeling better each passing month, and I think that being on the show and making people laugh has helped me in my cancer recovery.

If you’ve stumbled upon my blog because you saw me on the show, thank you for watching. I hope you enjoyed watching the episodes!







How Thyroid Cancer and Hypothyroidism Changed My Body

Here’s a link to my post detailing my Cancer diagnosis and treatment timeline . I used to have a very predictable, dependable body. I knew how much exercise I had to do to work off that cookie I had at lunch. I knew how long it would take for me to recover from vacation/travel eating. I knew my body really well. Then I got cancer. I think an active list of my symptoms might not only help me, but might benefit someone trying to figure out their new life as a hypothyroid patient. I am not a doctor, so please track your own symptoms and discuss them with your doctor. Symptoms I have experienced so far:

  • weight gain
  • hair loss
  • insomnia
  • nightmares
  • pungent body odor
  • brain fog/forgetfulness
  • language/writing problems

1. Weight gain After my other thyroid was removed I gained 10 pounds in a month. While I understand that 10 pounds is not much when compared to other thyroid patients, it is unusual for me. It is also a significant amount of weight for a petite person like myself. I am thankful for only gaining a small amount of weight, but I must note it as a way that thyroid cancer and hypothyroidism changed my body. I have lost 2 pounds since my RIA (radio-iodine ablation) mid- September 2014, but that’s the most my weight has budged.I have 8 pounds to go to be at my pre-cancer weight. I eat a calorie restricted diet and try to aim for high protein, low carbs. I eat a lot of fish, and soy. While soy consumption is controversial, my endocrinologist advised that I can eat soy, I just have to eat it 4 hours after taking my thyroid pill. Resolution (for now):  Yesterday (11/18) I started a 2 workout a day plan. I am not doing strength training, but have read that strength training/weight lifting might help with weight loss for someone in my condition. I don’t have easy access to weights, but I’m looking into how to change that. 2. Hair Loss After the second time my Levothroxine was increased I noticed that my hair began falling out. It isn’t coming out in huge clumps, but it does come out daily. I find it on my pillow, in my brush, in the shower, and in my bicycle helmet. This has never happened before. When I get my hair cut it is even worse, so I avoid going as often as I should. I had to explain to my Japanese stylist that I was taking medicine that made my hair fall out so he didn’t worry when he saw all of it come out as he cut. 3. Insomnia For the past 5 months I have been taking Levothroxine at night (per my doctor). I have never suffered from insomnia before, but I would lie awake for about 3-4 hours on average. Resolution: I decided to start taking my medicine in the morning (which is what is on the bottle) on 11/6.  The day of my first morning dose I had a lot of energy (ran/biked 2 miles) and I fell asleep within 30 minutes and had no nightmares. A week later and I still have had no more nightmares and no trouble falling asleep.

4. Nightmares

I would also have terrible nightmares every night. It became normal for me, but just a few days before switching to a morning dose my husband commented that I have had persistent nightmares. Over time I just stopped noticing.

Resolution: (see #3)  5. Pungent body odor I have tried many things to alleviate the body odor that has accompanied my thyroid condition. What was strange is that after I had my surgeries the odor was gone for a few months while my thyroid medication was very low. Once it increased to 125 mcg the odor came back. I don’t drink coffee, only 1-2 cups of black tea a day. I don’t drink much soda, maybe 1-4 diet sodas a month. I’ve tried washing my armpits with baking soda, stainless steel (smooth stone) soap, rubbing alcohol, lymph drainage massage, antibacterial body soaps, and all kinds of deodorant+ antiperspirant. I shower twice a day, sometimes more. One arm is stronger than the other, and it’s opposite the side of my body where the cancer was present. Very strange. I have tried a variety of laundry techniques, too. Baking soda, vinegar, ammonia, sun drying, boiling water, several different sports detergents and laundry scrubs. That worked for a while, but once my hormones start getting out of control the smell comes back.  Resolution (for now): I learned about transdermal magnesium chloride therapy while talking to another hypothyroid patient on Reddit. I figured that I had nothing to lose, so I bought a bottle on Amazon. I have been using it for 3 days, and my body odor is minimal, even while on my period. I did not ask my doctor about this, because he told me he does not believe that non-prescription methods work. He also did not believe that my strong body odor was related to my thyroid issues. I am not a doctor, but this is my body, and I disagree. Update 7/4/15: The transdermal magnesium spray was a game changer. I have been using it since the date of this post and am back to only 1 shower a day, no overwhelming odor (unless I drink cheap coffee), and I couldn’t be happier. My doctor still did not believe that this spray helped, but it worked for me.

6. Brain fog, forgetfulness, scatterbrain, thyroid brain I have always been known for my amazing memory and ability to complete tasks quickly and efficiently. However, after the most recent dosage increase I noticed I could no longer remember even the most basic of things. I repeat stories, I forget what I was doing, I have trouble completing work and household tasks. It is extremely frustrating for me. I have told my doctor, but the symptom remains untreated. I asked about taking ginko biloba, but the doctor told me  that it probably won’t work and that it isn’t FDA approved, and left the conversation at that. Resolution (for now):  I keep forgetting to take it (go figure), but I think that taking my Levothroxine in the morning has helped. I am still foggy and forgetful, but it seems like it doesn’t disrupt my life as much as it did before switching to a morning dose.Update 7/4/15: In May my doctor FINALLY listened to me (once my husband went in to the appointment with me- that’s a whole other blog post in itself) and increased my dosage to the next strength. I have had more energy, and less brain fog every day since then.

7. Difficulty writing/editing As a technical writer this is very difficult for me. My job involves writing, and having to proofread so diligently and STILL finding basic mistakes makes me want to scream. Writing and editing have always come naturally to me, but I can no longer do it in the same capacity that I could before cancer and hypothyroidism. Resolution (for now):  This one is tough. I keep making mistakes. I will keep making mistakes unless I am very careful with my editing. There are probably mistakes in this post that, even though I’ve combed over it a few times, I still don’t see. I just have to keep an eye on it and try harder.

My Thyroid Cancer Diagnosis and Treatment Timeline

I am a healthy woman who was diagnosed with thyroid cancer at 29. I do not smoke, drink alcohol rarely, avoid fast food, and exercise frequently.

Cancer is scary. While thyroid cancer is treatable it leaves us with completely new bodies. Nothing works like it used to, and trust me…that is frustrating.

I am writing about my experiences in a series of posts because I hope it can help somebody else who develops this condition.

One question I am always asked is “how did you discover you had  cancer?”  Well, that’s an interesting story.

People want to know how I found out I had a problem, so here’s my diagnosis and treatment timeline.


Late December 2012:

I went to the emergency room from work because I suddenly had pain with breathing. I called the nurse line and was told that because of my birth control I could be having a pulmonary embolism.

David was on the flight line, so I drove myself to the ER.

After several hours and many tests they discovered the real problem.

I had thyroid nodules/cysts that had gotten so large on the left side of my throat that that they had nowhere to swell too on my small frame, pushing the swelling into my lungs and throat.

Other symptoms that developed prior to this ER visit was a very pungent body odor. It wasn’t regular BO. It was worse than that. I actually blogged about it here.

Thyroid nodules are prevalent in my family, so I wasn’t too concerned.

I was released from the ER and told to schedule a referral to an endocrinologist.

February 2013:

More ultrasounds and tests in January.

By February I had the needle biopsy, but it was only done on the largest nodule. It came back clear and this doctor said he did some sort of DNA analysis on me and I am very low risk for cancer.

The swelling was controlled  over the months with an as-needed steroid medication.

We moved to Japan in November 2013.

January 2014:

The doctors here in Japan noticed that I had not had a followup since last year and made me go through the tests again.

I really wasn’t trilled about it, but went ahead with it.

The ultrasound showed the left nodule had grown quite a bit, and had visible black spots.

I had another needle biopsy, and it came back clear.

However, I was urged to consider tissue biopsy, so I did.

My nose was broken when I was 5 years old. During the consultation for my thyroid the doctor noted that he could also fix my nose.

The same doctor would perform a septoplasty, but he got military orders to move later this summer. This meant he would not be able to do my nose work unless we acted fast.

I asked him to do both the thyroid lobectomy and the septoplasty at the same time because I really felt he was the best surgeon for the work.

May 2014:

He agreed, and I had both procedures done May 28, 2014.

Strangely I had no symptoms (other than the swelling in my throat) until about 2 weeks before my surgery date.

I started having trouble waking up and getting moving. I started feeling the need to take naps, and I started feeling very unusual- not like myself.

The tumor that was removed was a little over an inch long and had big black spots.

The tissue biopsy results revealed stage i thyroid cancer- papillary with a follicular variant. The tumor was t2 in size.

June 2014:

I had the second surgery to remove my other thyroid on June 30th. The masses on the right side that were removed also had possible spots.

July 2014:

Despite the spots, the right side had no cancer.

August/September 2014:

Received a small dose of radioactive iodine at an Army hospital in Hawaii. This should have destroyed any remaining thyroid cells that were left in my body.

I will have regular blood work and yearly body scans to check for cancer. The radioactive iodine treatment does increase my risk of getting other types of cancer, but at the moment I am all clear.