Meet the beautiful Martina! I (Andrea) have been so awed by her wraps, her zest for trying new things, and her personable style. She is a cancer survivor and current fighter and I am inspired by the strength in her eyes and the pureness of her giving spirit. She also makes wrapping look like so much fun! (Which we all know that it is, but for someone going through such trials to make it into such a calling and art… just, wow!) I can’t wait for you to meet her…
“I moved [to the US] from Germany in 1994 with my first husband, who was American. We divorced in 1996 after 10 years together. It was an ugly divorce and that’s why I decided to stay here, rather than bring danger to my family’s doorstep back home. I found a decent job quickly and did pretty good for myself. I had a wonderful boyfriend and really thought I had it all when against all odds (according to doctors) I became pregnant at the end of 1997. It was a tubal pregnancy and so I lost my only chance at becoming a mom, which made me a spiritual seeker of sorts, since I wasn’t brought up with any religious identity and losing my baby made me look for proof that I might one day be reunited with or rather meet my child.
I had always been an animal lover, and so I did the next best thing and started adopting the animals I would find running in traffic, even while working as a bus driver! I would literally pull over a bus full of people to rescue a dog or cat! Then if I was unable to reunite them with their owners, I kept them, and that’s what has satisfied my maternal instincts over the years.
The first time I was diagnosed with breast cancer was in 2002. Luckily it was found early. I did my homework (research), opted for a lumpectomy, made the decision to refuse all other treatments against my doctors advice and moved on with my life as best I could. My wonderful husband and I met in 2008 and married in 2009. My second diagnosis came at the beginning of March of this year, a few weeks after my 13 year old cat Miracle was diagnosed with lung cancer. When she passed I fell into this hole of despair. The “woe me” feeling was overwhelming. My grief paralyzed me, made me want to give up before my own fight had even started. My husband’s love brought me back from the brink. We decided to take a more radical approach than the first time: bilateral mastectomy! Chemo! Sweet Lord! Because of my particular diagnosis, chemo had to happen first. The knowledge that I was going to lose my hair was worse for me than losing my breasts. I had long blonde curls that my husband and I both loved. On top of that I felt guilty for being so vain… I didn’t think I could survive watching it l fall out, finding hands full on my pillow, so I decided on having it shaved off and donating. I bought a hat on the way to the salon. How I made it through that and out of the salon without falling apart…I don’t recall, it’s a blur. I remember that I didn’t wear the hat afterward though, I decided to own it!
What made me look for different options was 1. my bus passengers’ silly comments about my bald look and 2. Medications that made me photo-sensitive. Back then I had a few hats and caps, wasn’t happy…looked online and all I found there for the first few months were hijab style wraps, which I didn’t think I could pull off, and African American women wrapping in a pretty particular style. So I experimented with that and liked it better than hats, but I’ll never forget the day I found Wrapunzel!!!!! It literally changed my whole cancer journey! I took to wrapping like ducklings to water, loved having a way for creative expression again! Before chemo, I had had long, strong, beautiful nails and loved to do nail art. The cancer took that from me. Now, with Wrapunzel, I reclaimed my self! I immediately knew I had found a game changer! Finding the Wrapunzel style allowed me to feel beautiful again! And I didn’t just feel beautiful, others could see it, too.
My husband complimented me constantly, as did my passengers and coworkers. I joined the Wrapunzel community, not saying much, just kinda watching…the kindness with which this huge, diverse group of women interacts, blew me away!!! And it began to change me… I found that I had a smile on my face all day, every day, and a completely calm and positive attitude toward treatment, surgery, whatever… I focused on myself and my cancer less, started treating people with more kindness, I mean going out of my way (the way it is modeled in the Wrapunzel community), my heart always full, seeing my creator at work in these amazing women who don’t just talk the talk! And I walk into the world each day with my wrap a visible sign of my belonging to this group and a reminder to represent the Wrapunzelistas well. I try to be a light onto the darkness wherever I go and especially at the cancer centers, where I’ve started to help other patients wrap, building relationships with social workers and the American Cancer Society.
My own style has evolved from the early days of barely managing to keep one scarf on my head (the pre-Wrapunzel days) without velvet headband or volumizers to being willing to try anything! I love just starting and seeing where a wrap wants to take me. I love matching my wraps and outfits… I love the waterfalls and color and I’m not afraid of big or elaborate, lol… I went from not being able to GET volume to not being able to get enough! I had people ask me for tutorials…ME!!!!! WHAAAAT? Mind….blown!!!
My advice to beginning wrappers would be to relax and have fun with it. Definitely watch the video tutorials on YouTube, but don’t feel like you have to wrap like anyone else. Practice! Try different styles and colors, find what suites you, and I bet you will wear it with a smile…And when in doubt, come into the fan-group! The women here are amazingly helpful and supportive, someone is always here to give advise or just an opinion of what works 🙂 “
Love, Martina Lara