From My Heart…


This mind, body and soul have been built over time, not overnight. It has taken time and sacrifice to build the mental strength to not give up and keep the faith, despite the struggles and pain at times.

I did not start my dancing career at the age of seven to get recognition or achieve superficial goals. When I decided to take my artistic and creative talents and turn them into being a makeup artist, I didn’t make that choice thinking I am going to be the best in the industry. I made these decisions as a way to express myself, not even realizing these were gifts that would bring me immense healing aspects for years to come.

Honestly it wasn’t until a few years ago that I started to heal from the inside, out in order to make those connections and really understand why I was utilizing two completely different gifts as constructive outlets. Learning that these were ways for me to cope with my past and even the diagnosis of Primary Lymphedema I received in 2011 was not an easy lesson. Any opportunity to perform and create trending makeup looks always seems to take me completely out of my element to where I get lost in the moment. No pains from the past, no thoughts of managing a diagnosis, only left with a challenge before me that was providing me with endless rewards. Hence why I constantly immersed myself into my talents and continue to do so. Being able to make these connections has given me a healthier mental approach with my lifestyle and has allowed me the opportunity to rebuild my self-trust and self worth that at one point I had lost.

I believe confidence is the new circumstance! Finding new goals and aspirations show me that I can still enjoy my gifts not only as a remedy for mental health, but also as a way to empower others and myself through my passion filled purpose.

I want to always feel better in my OWN skin, which is my wish for YOU too!

Live to Inspire,

Amy

REV UP!


When it comes to our bodies metabolism we must be mindful of key factors in helping aid our system to rev up, rather than slow down. I have complied the top 3 factors that are known to support a healthy lifestyle and leave you feeling energized.

First, Stay well hydrated: If you are not consuming enough liquids, your metabolism slows down and you will burn fewer calories. That means drinking between 9 – 13 cups of water (2 – 3 liters) every day. Although water is the default liquid because it has no calories, other beverages do count toward this goal. Just be cautious of the calories that each one of those other beverages may contain. Especially beverages containing sugars, they add up!

Second, Eat enough protein: Lean proteins such as chicken breast, salmon and ground turkey breast are a dieter’s friend for a good reason. Protein foods help build muscle, which increases metabolism and uses more calories as fuel. Even digesting proteins burns more calories. For those that prefer not to consume meats, there are great pea protein powders on the market that could be used as a protein replacement.

Lastly, Consume enough calories: This sounds counter-intuitive, but eating too few calories can send your body into starvation mode, which slows down the metabolism and weight loss. Plan ahead so it doesn’t become an overwhelming task to eat, but rather a lifestyle that is fueled by dedication and determination to keep your metabolism revved up.

Live to Inspire,

Amy

 

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Crowning Achievement for Lymphedema

May 1st 2016 was nothing shy of a dream come true! I won the Mrs. Florida International 2016 title and was crowned by my husband, Ruben Santiago! With so many thoughts racing through my mind, I found myself just trying to catch my breath as the euphoric high of every single emotion was hitting me all at once.  This was a crowning achievement in more ways than one and it takes an immense amount of patience, time, support, preparation, empowerment, courage, faith, belief and love to build a passion filled platform.

5 years ago had you told me I would wake up on May 2nd 2016 having conquered many fears by coming out of silence with my diagnosis of Primary Lymphedema and would unlock the “Key” to my significance, I would have never believed you. Through an immense amount of unconditional love from my husband Ruben, encouragement from ALL of my family members, support from the Lymphedema community around the globe and empowerment from countless individuals, as well as a healing approach from the inside out, I have broken the chains that once controlled me and held me captive, yet it was not possible to achieve such things all on my own.

Ruben, MyLove you have literally filled my heart and our marriage with the greatest gifts of all and ones that I could never repay you for! I am honored to be your wife and I Thank You for inspiring me to continue fulfilling this passion filled purpose.

To ALL of my family, your unwavering love and belief for my journey has moved me to tears. My title may have changed, but I will always be “Titi Mimi”

Jason Fontes, I made a promise to you 4 months ago that your life and legacy would live on, as my “purpose” now became that much bigger after Ruben and I experienced your loss. I dedicate everything I do in honor of you and I know you are always shining upon us! We Love You Brother!

My Director of the Florida International Pageants, Marianne Oden. I am blessed to have a woman beside me through this new chapter of my journey as Mrs. Florida International 2016. A role model who is filled with empowerment and inspiration! You not only provide an opportunity for all to share their hearts and platforms, but a bigger chance to see gifts within ourselves that maybe we didn’t notice could create change before.

The judges who endured the toughest job of all. Thank you for investing your time and hearts to listen, watch and believe that I will continue being not only the Voice of Lymphedema but also the Voice of Significance, making the State of Florida as well as the rest of the world proud!

To the incredible team of amazing individuals, every one of you played an important role in preparing and supporting me for this adventure!  The Florida International Pageant Team, Marianne Oden, Katy Carson, Pam Livingstone and their entire Production Team, all the volunteers and the team at Westgate Resorts. Carmen Steffens, mediusa and medi for help in Haiti, Lymphatic Education and Research Network, LymphCareUSA, BSN Medical, Tactile Medical and the National Lymphedema Network. MadSkye Advertising, Clay Spann PhotographyRegalia Magnificent Apparel, Dawn Brinkman, Diane Ventura, Suzy Bootz, Brandi Lamb and Robin Miller.

Mrs International pageant and directors, Mel and Mary Richardson. I am humbled to grace the International Stage in July representing the State of Florida! Thank you for creating an opportunity to bring Women together from all around the world and placing importance on giving voice to various platforms.

My Florida International Sister Queens, I was honored to share in this adventure and together we will create change around the world with each one of our platforms. To my new Miss Teen, Jaclyn Weber and Miss International, Rachel Barcellona. I cannot wait to experience the International pageant in July with you both and am looking forward for the opportunities and memories that we will build as Florida International Queens!

Live to Inspire,

Amy Santiago

Mrs. Florida International 2016

 

 

 

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Lymphedema after Breast Cancer

Thousands of men and women are diagnosed and treated for breast cancer every year. We know the numbers are a massive difference when we look at the break down between the two, however treatments are very similar. Most breast cancer survivors are able to continue on with life after treatment or surgery. Others are left with a daily reminder of one huge obstacle they were able to overcome, but now faced with a bigger challenge ahead.

Women

In 2016, it is estimated that among U.S. women there will be:

  • 246,660 new cases of invasive breast cancer (This includes new cases of primary breast cancer among survivors, but not recurrence of original breast cancer among survivors.)
  • 61,000 new cases of in situ breast cancer (This includes ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) and lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS). Of those, about 83 percent will be DCIS. DCIS is a non-invasive breast cancer and LCIS is a condition that increases the risk of invasive breast cancer.
  • 40,450 breast cancer deaths

Men

Breast cancer in men is rare, but it does happen. In 2016, it is estimated that among men in the U.S. there will be:

  • 2,600 new cases of (This includes new cases of primary breast cancer among survivors, but not recurrence of original breast cancer among survivors.)
  • 440 breast cancer deaths

When you are talking about just one year and country alone, these numbers are shocking! What is even more shocking is that 40% of ALL breast cancer survivors will develop lymphedema. At this rate 123,064 women will develop secondary lymphedema and 1,040 men just from the 2016 breast cancer cases. Lymphedema is increased swelling in an extremity due to damaged lymph nodes. Typically the extremity that would be affected in a breast cancer case would be the upper extremities, arms and hands. Some of the reasons are due to Chemotherapy and or Radiation for cancer treatment. When surgery is done for breast cancer, it is more common than not for lymph nodes to be biopsied to see if cancer has spread to them. If there is cancer in the nodes, this can impact prognosis and alter treatment or removal of lymph nodes. The more lymph nodes removed, the greater the risk of lymphedema.

Lymphedema can occur immediately, or over time and can be so mild as to be hardly noticeable or so severe that it is painful and disfiguring. The goal would be to catch it in its early stages so the extremity can be maintained and not cause permanent damage to the body. Since the lymphatic system is part of the immune system, its job is to protect against bacteria, viruses, fungi and even cancer. The lymphatic system includes the spleen, thymus, lymph nodes and lymph channels, as well as your tonsils and adenoids. A normal functioning lymphatic system is critical to our health. Although at this time there is no cure for lymphedema, it can be managed with complete decongestive therapy (CDT) by a certified lymphedema specialists and suggested compression garments. Education, awareness and knowledge are crucial when it comes to treating breast cancer, as it can leave you with a secondary situation such as lymphedema.

To learn more about breast cancer related lymphedema, please watch the latest CBS News story on Academy Award winner, Kathy Bates and how she is now a voice for lymphedema around the world.  I am honored to share this platform with her through the Lymphatic Education and Research Network as we continue to build momentum for the 140+ Million individuals around the world that are affected by all types of Lymphedema and Lymphatic related conditions.

Live to Inspire,

Amy

 

Additional Resources for Lymphedema at: Amy Santiago’s Website

Source Used for Breast Cancer Statistics: Susan G. Komen

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Knock Out Beauty

Makeup is such a powerful tool! It provides us with creative ways to enhance, compliment and think outside the box with an array of colors. To witness physical attributes transform right before our very eyes is empowering to say the least.

With so many amazing beauty products on the market, it makes it difficult at times to decide which ones may fulfill our needs, wants or desires when completing that look. Do you find yourself always-reverting back to certain products that make you feel your absolute best? What is it about those beauty products that give you those confident feelings? Certain packaging, bright or neutral colors, coverage and wear ability are all key factors for most, but what tops these factors is finding a brand that stands behind a message through the power of makeup.

I came upon Sonia Kashuk about 8 months ago and immediately fell in love with this unique beauty line. From the creative aspects of a broad variety of makeup products to a full lineup of bath and body and plenty of accessories and tools to fulfill any need. This line truly inspires the beauty of being.

Not only does Sonia Kashuk create her own performance-based makeup formulas, blended from ingredients of the highest quality; She also designs high-end packaging to showcase her luxurious, yet affordable makeup line. Her uncompromising commitment to beauty and perfection is in constant motion and expansion: every season Sonia reinterprets the trends, creates new colors, new shapes and patterns for brushes, bags, and more. Her latest Spring 2016 limited edition collection “KO Beauty,” encourages women from around the world to Knock Out Negativity through the empowering messages scribed on every item within the collection. What a wonderful reminder when using these products that “You Are A Knock Out Beauty” and to “Keep Your Head Up.”

I encourage you to check out this collection and be empowered on a daily basis by making luxury fun, glamour affordable and recognizing that confidence radiates beauty from the inside, out.

P.S. All of us are Knock Out Beauties!

Live to Inspire,

Amy

Expand your Fashion Creativity and Support a Mission

I have always thought of ways to try and jazz up my Lymphedema garments in order to compliment my daily fashion and most of the time it’s hard to do, because my day-to-day wardrobe can change drastically. Sometimes my fashion says sporty gal, while other times I am in comfy travel mode or complete opposite, fashion forward. I would need something that gave me the availability to adjust to my needs, yet allows me comfort and style.

I recently had the pleasure of being introduced to a product that have all of these bases covered, Xpandasox! Whether you have curvy legs, athletic calves, or slender stems, Xpandasox is a sock that fits every body. This product is unique in that it features the awesome xpandapanel in the back built into every pair, which allows a better fit that stretches 24+ inches and contracts to fit your body and stay up without binding or falling down.

They are not only ideal for complimenting Lymphedema and Lipedema garments, they are perfect for all types of leg swelling including pregnancy. From the xpandasport line, to basics, fun fashion and a unisex line, I was surprised to see the various types of patterns, trends and array of colors they have available.

The part that sold me on Xpandasox is that they are a “mission driven” company!  For every pair of socks purchased, they will deposit one pair into the “Sock Bank.” Socks are the most asked for item in homeless shelters in the USA, and they have partnered with organizations that will withdraw socks from their bank to give to those in need.  What an incredible creative inspiration that is changing the lives of many through a comfortable piece of fashion.

To see how you too can expand your fashion creativity and support a mission of giving back, visit Xpandasox they ship worldwide!

Live to Inspire,

Amy


*Please note these are my personal thoughts and not to be treated any other than or replaced with current medical advice.

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We never lose with Lymphedema, either we WIN or we LE&RN!

What an incredible month of March! I can honestly say we are not losing with Lymphedema, in fact quite the opposite. As a Co-Chair for the Florida Chapter of LE&RN, I kicked off the month by announcing the first LE&RN Florida Chapter event, Lymphedema Awareness Night, March 29th 2016 with the NBA team, Orlando Magic.

LE&RN also launched a petition to recognize the first annual World Lymphedema Day, March 6th 2016. The Lymphedema community celebrated as we gained over 5,000 signatures! The US Senate, the NYS legislature and Ottawa, Canada all passed resolutions marking March 6th as #WLD, a day that was honored around the world.

I was blessed with an opportunity to speak about the LE&RN Florida Chapter and Lymphedema Treatment Act at a Lymphedema support group, which was held at the Lymphedema and Physical Therapy Specialists clinic in Clermont, Florida.  I also highlighted the importance of significance regardless of our circumstance and how to find purpose within our journey. It was a night filled with inspiration and empowerment for all!

The next day I started off the morning by visiting WESH 2 News for a live TV interview, highlighting the Lymphedema Awareness Night event and to give voice for the millions that are affected by the epidemic of Lymphedema, including myself. Later that day my Florida Chapter Co-Chair Annette joined me to prepare for the festivities. Thousands of excited attendees poured into the Amway Arena for a 7:00pm game. Minutes before the start of the game, the Orlando Magic welcomed me to center court announcing March as Lymphedema Awareness Month and the movement that is taking place within the Lymphedema community.

It was an amazing night with the Orlando Magic pulling out a huge win against the Brooklyn, Nets. Thank you to MediUSA for your generous sponsorship for our awesome     T-Shirts and to the Orlando Magic for supporting Lymphedema. To those who purchased tickets, supported by making a donation, shared words of encouragement and allowed our voices to be heard through media, interviews, national support and even center court at the game, Thank you! Your stance for Lymphedema is changing and inspiring lives around the world!

March, Lymphedema Awareness month has come to a close with BIG WINS! However we must continue to give voice everyday, because I reassure you we are on the cusp of greater WINS to come!!!

Live to Inspire,

Amy

For additional resources & inspiration please visit my Website