How Beauty Is Helping Me & My Mom Come To Terms With Her Chronic Illness

by Kali Borovic
Kali Borovic

It all started with a rash. When my mom got it, she came to me in search of a remedy, knowing that skin care is something I'm very interested in. I went through my bag of lotions and potions to find something that worked. But nothing did.

Then came the doctors appointment. Then the follow-up. Then the diagnosis.

I can tell you exactly where I was and what I was wearing when my mom told me she had lupus. Jean shorts, a white T-shirt, a blue and green flannel tied around my waist. It was a day that I knew everything was going to change, but I had no idea how much.

The women in my family have always done everything they can to help each other. When I moved out, every single woman in my family was at my door on move-in day. When I have a bad day, they all answer the phone, no matter what. But things are a little different with my mom's chronic illness, because there's not much we can do to help her — not much I can do to help her. I can't make my mom better or strengthen her bones, or give my mom my energy, although I wish I could. The thing with lupus is that it does not get better. As time goes on, new symptoms come, old ones flair, and you never know what the next day will bring. Some days that's a rash. Other times it's joint pain and physical aching. The next it could be hair thinning and loss.

And while I can't help cure my mom of lupus or prevent her from experiencing these symptoms, there's one thing I can do: I can help her feel more like herself through something that I know a lot about — beauty products.

Kali Borovic

The entire galaxy of beauty and beauty products is rather novel to my mother. She has never relied on makeup, even after her traumatic car accident that left her with extensive scarring. There were never products laid out across her bathroom sink, and I don't have any first memories of watching her apply makeup in the morning. Still, it's always something that's interested me, and something she's been supportive of me exploring.

When my mom first got the rash on her chest and didn't know what it was, she came to me for help. She knew that I had a hefty collection of lotions and creams that could help. CeraVe ended up doing the trick. When her energy levels started to drain, she asked which essential oils could help give her a boost. She now diffuses peppermint for a pick-me-up. When her nails started to become brittle, I gave her Argan oil to moisturize them. When her hair began to thin, we swapped shampoo and found that shampoo with vitamin E was the one for her.

No matter what the symptom is, my mom knows I am here to help her. I can't stop the disease from taking a toll on her health, but I can use what I know to make her comfortable and feel more like herself. That's something you can't find in even the best doctors.

Kali Borovic

While the experience is different for everyone, having a family member with a chronic illness is tough. My mom is the real champion — the one going through the illness and pushing through every single day. I will never take that away from her. Period.

That being said, as the person closest to her, it does affect me. The hardest part of watching my mom navigate her chronic illness is watching her lose her sense of self. Her eyesight is not the same. She is not able to walk as far or stay up as late. I wish I could take away all of the pain and make it all better. I can't, so I do what I can to help her through. I do not have the ability to find a cure, but I can find the best damn brow product out there when she needs it or the best cream for dry skin.

My mom has been there for me my entire life to guide me through hard times and be the shoulder that I cry on. The least that I can do is share the contents of my makeup bag. In fact, the small act is turning out to be the most meaningful one of all.