Wellesley Breast Cancer Survivor Finds Cream That Combats Side Effect of Treatment

September 27, 2020 by admin  
Filed under Forum

By Anne-Marie Smolski, asmolski@wickedlocal.com
GateHouse News Service

Wellesley —
When Weston Road resident Theresa Keresztes visited Hungary in 2007 it turned out to be more than a family vacation. She discovered a very effective skin cream for her face that would — although she didn’t know it at the time — become what she used to treat the dermatitis she got from radiation treatment for breast cancer.

Unhappy with her skin since she was a teenager, she had asked for advice from her mother-in-law, a native of Hungary, before she went on her trip. Her mother-in-law told her to look for something with rose hips in it.

Keresztes remembers thinking, “I want to have beautiful skin like my mother-in-law….”

When she was out in the Hungarian countryside, in a little town with “ladies with little babushkas wearing folk dress,” Keresztes visited an apothecary at which she found a cream that contained rose hips. She decided to make it her new skin care cream.

Prior to her vacation, on a mammogram she’d had at a local hospital, a suspicious lump showed up. “I didn’t really want to believe it …,” Keresztes said.

After the family returned from vacation Keresztes decided that she should probably get a second opinion and went to Massachusetts General Hospital. She remembers the surgeon saying, ‘I think it’s just the normal aging of the breast tissue,’ to which she replied, “I love what you have to say, but why don’t you look at all my mammograms.”

The surgeon decided Keresztes should have additional mammograms taken at MGH. After a biopsy that turned into a lumpectomy in October 2007, she had another surgery in November, to make sure there were clean margins. In 2008, she began radiation treatment at MGH.

“I love them; they’re really nice,” Keresztes said about those who cared for her at the hospital. “I didn’t need the handholding. I just wanted the best,” she said. Her oncologist was Dr. Jack Erban, then-director of clinical studies at MGH; her surgeon was Dr. Michelle Gadd; and her radiation oncologist was Dr. Shannon MacDonald.

“She was a sweetheart,” Keresztes said about MacDonald, to whom she showed the Hungarian cream she had been using because she was “bumpy, red and itchy” after radiation. After using it, her skin looked tanned, and the doctor had remarked that her skin looked really good.

Prior to using the cream in the affected area, “nothing was working,” Keresztes said. Her husband Steve said, ‘Why don’t you try that Hungarian stuff?’” Even he had noticed the improvement in her complexion. “All of a sudden I was tanning.” She said her skin looked great. “I always had had bad skin and now I wake up in the morning and I’m like wow!” But now, in addition to it working on her face it was also effective in treating her radiation-induced dermatitis.

Although Keresztes had used the cream in its original form, MacDonald told her that for cancer patients the cream couldn’t have any parabens, fragrance, dyes or mineral oil in it.

Keresztes consulted with the manufacturer in Hungary, asking him if he could remove those ingredients from the cream. Still manufactured in Hungary, the cream is specially formulated for people going through radiation therapy, Keresztes said.
Her business partner is Hungarian Peter Dominus, who specializes in plant-based botanical products.

The cream is called My Girls Skin Care (formerly known as My Girl’s Radiation Cream). According to the My Girls Cream website, the product contains a blend of Hungarian calendula, rosemary, honey, and beeswax, plus other natural oils that help maintain the skin’s moisture balance. In development for Keresztes’ company, Radiant Sun, which produces the cream, is another cream that contains rosemary, called My Feet Cream.

Keresztes said that what people seem to like most about My Girls Skin Care cream is that it spreads easily over burns or compromised skin that may result as an after effect after radiation. She compares the consistency to whipped cream.
Categorized as a cosmetic, there is no testing done on the cream in the United States. However, it did have to be tested in Europe, and they quality control it there, Keresztes said.

The cream has been sampled on breastcancer.org and at hospitals all over the country, Keresztes said. It is also available at retail locations, including Panoply Day Spa in Wellesley, and at www.mygirlscream.com.

Keresztes, the mother of a daughter, Ava, 8, and son, Stephen, 5, said she actually felt a lima bean-size lump in her breast in 2003, when her daughter was 10 months old. She went to the hospital and remembered staff rushing in after a mammogram with concerned looks on their faces, telling her that she had calcifications. The doctor told her to return in six months for another mammogram, but Keresztes said the doctor never explained that calcifications in some cases could indicate breast cancer.

At the time Keresztes said her father had just died, her mother was getting Alzheimer’s disease, she had a new baby and was working full time. Life was busy.

She didn’t go back for that six-month check-up. “I just totally blew if off,” Keresztes said. “And that is what became my cancer by ’07.”

Before starting her skin care business, Keresztes worked as a consultant for a technology-consulting firm and also as an account supervisor at Hill Holiday.

She said that experience helped with her launching an e-commerce business and branding it.

After taking what Keresztes calls a “sort of a circuitous route,” she refers to what she does now as a “course correction.”
She finds her work rewarding and appreciates the fact that although her work is 24/7 she can be at home with her family while doing it.

Keresztes is always available to talk with people. She said, “When they call you up they want to talk about the cream, but they really want to talk about their fear. It can be tough.”

Her own cancer, called DCIS breast cancer, was confined to the milk duct, which she said has a 99 percent cure rate. It was caught at Stage 0, Keresztes said.

In 2009, she launched the My Girls Gala, a party for breast cancer survivors that featured an auction. The non-profit organization raised $15,500 for MGH’s clinical research programs. Keresztes plans on having another of these events one day.

In 2009, after the gala and after the research was completed on her cream, Keresztes began to sell her product. She just recently completed fulfilling back orders for My Girls Skin Care cream.

When she’s not working, she’s playing with her children — she’s on the soccer field every Saturday morning, since both kids are playing and Steve is a coach.

She runs with fellow breast cancer survivor and Wellesley resident Carol Chaoui, who has the CC’s Cheerleaders team running at this year’s Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure Massachusetts (www.komenmassrace.org).

Keresztes also runs with the Suburban Striders, and on Tuesday nights rows with a group of women who are also breast cancer survivors.

In addition, she is on the board of directors for the Wellesley Cancer Prevention Project and speaks for the 15-40 Connection. According to their website, the organization is dedicated to creating a world where “invincible” adolescents and young adults take their medical care and cancer screenings seriously.

When asked what she would now if she found a lump again she said, “I’d go right away.”

For now, she said, “I’m feeling good. I have all my check-ups coming in November.”

My Girls Skin Care is available for $29.00 for a 6.8 oz. jar, including shipping and handling. Visit www.mygirlscream.com; email sales@mygirlscream.com; 508-380-9300; Radiant Sun, P.O. Box 812200, Wellesley, MA 02482.

Copyright 2011 The Wellesley Townsman. Some rights reserved

Speak Your Mind

Tell us what you're thinking...
and oh, if you want a pic to show with your comment, go get a gravatar!