If you’ve ever visited our office, you’re likely familiar with Karen – the tall striking blonde woman with a warm smile and even warmer greeting. Well, what you may not be aware of is her courage, strength, and grace… or what she has been through.
In July of 2010, our Karen was at a high point, enjoying a successful career as an executive for Western International University. She was blessed with boundless energy, and an easy, natural beauty. She was grateful for all the gifts in her life, including her family and friends. However, she got the shock of her life when a routine checkup resulted in a terrifying cancer diagnosis.
“I was just on top of the world and it felt like everything was going right for me,” Karen remembers. “I did not see this coming – talk about life-altering! At first, they thought it was stage zero breast cancer, but after more tests, I was diagnosed with stage 3-C, which is one step below metastatic. It was unbelievable.”
Over eight years, she underwent fifteen surgeries, 37 radiation treatments, and three rounds of chemotherapy, including a year of a daily pill that drained her energy to the point of barely being able to get out of bed in the morning. She lost her hair, her eyebrows, and her eyelashes. She also began to lose sight of who she was in the world.
“I had become an unrecognizable version of myself and it was taking a major toll on my spirit,” Karen says. “As I progressed through treatment, I began to feel better and find more energy, but people would still make comments like ‘oh my goodness, you look so tired! Are you okay?’ and it just broke my heart that what I was projecting on the outside didn’t match the improvements I was feeling on the inside. I knew I was healing and I wanted it to show.”
Fortunately for Karen, she has our wonderful Dr. Iannitelli (Dr. I) in her life (she did raise her, after all).
Around this time, Dr. I decided she wanted to move out of trauma surgery and family practice and into aesthetic medicine and cosmetic surgery. So in 2014, four years after her mom’s initial diagnosis, the two teamed up to open Advanced Image Med Spa. They built the business with inspiration from Karen’s journey and made it their guiding principle to help people look and feel their best – so their outer expression of who they are could reflect how good they felt on the inside.
“Initially as I was making my recovery, there was a disconnection between how good I was beginning to feel on the inside and what I was seeing in the mirror and how I was presenting to others,” Karen shares. “I wanted it to be a match; I wanted to feel just as radiant in how people reacted to me… I just didn’t want to be treated like I was sick anymore.”
As her body was recovering, Karen’s journey back to fully becoming herself again began with small procedures like brow microblading and Latisse to bring her lashes back. Microneedling treatments helped restore fresher and healthier skin. Photofacials also helped even out her skin tone and clear up age spots.
Next was Voluma filler to restore the natural shape of her beautiful high cheekbones. Suddenly she noticed the remarks about how tired she looked stopped! Karen says the confidence boost it gave her “supercharged her recovery” and the physical improvements started to come more quickly.
“I truly love what I get to do every day,” says Dr. I. “Of course, it is an honor that I was able to help my own mother feel like her gorgeous self again, but the fact that I also have the privilege of helping our entire community feel and look their best is such a wonderful gift.”
As living examples of the power of medical spa treatments to bring back a person’s spirit has motivated our favorite mother-daughter team to offer the best possible care, education, and support to their clients. At Advanced Image Med Spa, we are passionate about helping people from all backgrounds and stages of life become the best version of themselves.
“At the end of the day, what we’re ultimately doing is helping people feel better about life,” says Dr. I. “When we see a patient walk out of our doors with their head held a little higher, their smile wider, we know we’ve done our job well.”
For more information on how you can get involved, visit National Breast Cancer today.