When Lupe Guthrie was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer in 2005 at the age of 53, she was forced to adjust to her new life as a cancer patient.
“My usual daily routine ended as I was thrown into a whirlwind of doctor appointments, blood tests, scans to see if the cancer had spread, surgery, medications, chemotherapy and radiation,” recalled Guthrie, now 65, of Agoura Hills. “Then, in consultation with the oncology doctors, my husband and I agreed to start the fight.”
In the beginning, her diagnosis “was all very confusing” and she was scared and uncertain about her future.
Thoughts raced through her head as she felt the shock of what was happening:
“Cancer! Surgery! Chemotherapy! Radiation! This sucks! Cancer is expensive!” Guthrie remembered. “God, please help me to understand. Why me? I don’t have time for this!”
At the time of her breast cancer diagnosis, she was working as a clinical body therapist.
“I couldn’t bring myself to tell my clients, friends or family that I was not available,” she said. “I was ashamed to have cancer. I didn’t want anyone to know about my problem. My world and my business were at risk of being destroyed. … Everything seemed to stop.”
But little did she know at the time that cancer would serve as a catalyst for a new business endeavor — her own skin-care line.
After she was diagnosed, Guthrie underwent a lumpectomy as well as intense doses of chemotherapy and radiation. She soon discovered that chemotherapy can be particularly hard on the complexion, especially when your white blood cell count is low.
After her third chemotherapy treatment, she experienced a full-blown “skin crisis.”
“My dehydrated face looked rugged, with dark purple spots on my cheeks and blisters on my eyelids and lips,” she said. “My skin looked like an alligator; I was not a pretty sight.”
In an attempt to deal with this issue, she attended many conferences and trainings with scientists and dermatologists. She discovered, among other things, that the skin automatically responds beautifully to the right ingredients.
She also got involved as a volunteer with the American Cancer Society’s Look Good Feel Better Program, which she has presented at oncology offices in Ventura, the Cancer Support Community in Westlake Village, Los Robles Hospital in Thousand Oaks and the Nancy Reagan Breast Center at Adventist Health in Simi Valley.
In 2009, after exhaustive research into preserving and nourishing the skin, Guthrie developed her own skin-care line, called Remédios Skin Care. Remédios products are all-natural and are made without parabens. These products are designed for all skin types — not just for people who have experienced cancer.
“I prescribe and combine products based on the individual needs of each skin type,” said Guthrie, who also became a state-licensed esthetician after her cancer diagnosis.
This year, Guthrie is celebrating the 10-year anniversary of her Agoura Hills practice, called Therapeutic Skin Care, where she draws clients from all over Ventura County and beyond, including Ventura, Port Hueneme, Camarillo, Oxnard, Santa Barbara, Thousand Oaks, Malibu and Los Angeles.
“I am always learning from my clients; every skin treatment helps me learn more about the needs and necessities for health and beauty,” Guthrie said. “I am loyal to my clients, and they know about my ongoing esthetics education and my continuing research into products and treatments that fit their individual needs.”
This year also marks her 12th year of being cancer-free.
As far as her future is concerned, “My next goal is to create wellness workshops, along with treatments and ways to de-stress your mind and body,” Guthrie said.
Her advice to others who might be battling any kind of cancer: “Do not let this disease keep you from following your passion.”