Thank you for visiting Leslie Jane Naturals. I am thrilled that you found your way here and hope that you find something you love. Every formulation was meticulously created for use in my home for me, my husband, family, even my dogs became “Walter’s” test subjects. (My husband calls me Walter from the TV series Breaking Bad when I’m in my lab garb – backward baseball cap (instead of a hair net), circa 1950 horn-rimmed safety glasses with rhinestones, brightly colored safety gloves, pin-striped apron and either a dust mask or a full on gas mask. Mixing twenty ounces of tea-tree oil and twenty ounces of peppermint oil is not something I want to inhale.)
It was never my intention to start Leslie Jane Naturals. I had a career, was moving into a new house and thought I’d constructed a comfortable life where everything was under control. Yeah right.
So, what happened? Well, let me first say, every person in my immediate family has had cancer: Mother, Father, brother, and sister. My Mom and Granddad both died from the disease. My first diagnosis came in 1992. No biggie, melanoma, removed, done. The second and third happened in 2013.
The day I found out we were moving into our new home. I had run into town to pick up food for the work crew and my phone rang. "Leslie, this is Dr. B, I'm sorry to tell you all five biopsies are positive. These are the next steps."
Feeling like my world just imploded, I drove home to a driveway full of moving trucks and hungry men and could not get out of the car. The moment my husband looked at me I fell apart. He rushed to the car, I was a blubbering mess and did my best to hiccup out the bad news.
Have you ever heard of The Tower of Terror roller coaster? It accelerates to 100 miles per hour in seven seconds through a 676-foot launch tunnel then pitches up ninety degrees to the vertical with riders pulling 4.5Gs. Someone should rename cancer to The Tower of Terror because that's what it feels like - being launched into a dark tunnel at mind-numbing speeds, then violently pitched ninety degrees on information overload and just when you think you're not going to vomit, you're hit with 4.5Gs of: More. Bad. News. It felt like we were stuck on the ride in a time loop like Dr. Strange with Dormammu.
More bad news? We learned I had not one, but two different types of cancer, one had metastasized, and each needed to be treated independently. Meaning, two surgeries, followed by two different series of chemo to run consecutively over five months, followed by thirty-six radiation treatments, ten months of hormone therapy and two more surgeries.
Chemo caused acute heartburn and nausea, severe bouts of sickness, migraines, stomach issues, bleeding gums, mouth sores, dietary issues, nose bleeds, nerve damage, and immunodeficiencies. Radiation caused extreme fatigue and skin burns that became infected. Post treatment I've been left with neuropathy, fibromyalgia, chronic pain, muscle weakness, insomnia, skin issues, hair loss and a laundry list of other things.
To mitigate the side effects of chemo and avoid adding medications, I used essential oils and herbal remedies. At that point, I think I would’ve been resolved, having found a bit of relief with natural remedies, and just continued to slog my way through. I guess I just wasn’t mad enough yet.
Prior to radiation I was told to discontinue use of my deodorant because it contained aluminum which would interact with radiation causing skin toxicity. I didn't even know deodorant contained aluminum!
I went home and angrily (this is the mad part) stomped through the house mumbling bad words and started emptying cupboards of all personal care and cleaning products so I could read ingredient labels. I didn't understand ninety percent of what they contained. Benzalkonium Chloride, Diethanolamine, Methylisothiazolinone, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate. What are these things? I Googled. Then I yelled, didn’t mumble but yelled, many more bad words and was horrified to learn how many toxins were in the products I had used my whole life. Formaldehyde? Really?! Even those labeled as “all-natural” and "non-toxic” still contained ingredients that contribute to respiratory problems, developmental and reproductive toxicity, environmental and aquatic toxicity, and, yes, cancer.
In disbelief and surrounded by bottles full of toxins, why questions kept looping through my head like a ticker tape marquee. Why are these chemicals allowed? Why aren’t they banned? Why are companies allowed to be so misleading with their labeling and branding? Why didn’t I understand what I was bringing into my home? Why is my family cursed by this blankety-blank disease? Why have I had three types of cancer? That last one was an eye opener. I tested negative for all gene mutations associated with my cancers. Could the cause be environmental? Is it because my favorite bubble bath is a toxic cesspool of shamefully disguised harmful chemicals?
As I was tossing every noxious product, (and thinking I’m going to have bad breath tomorrow because I just threw away my toothpaste), my disbelief was replaced with the absolute belief that we should be able to care for ourselves, families and homes without fear of exposure to chemicals that contribute to disease. But then I wondered, what can I do to make a meaningful change? What can I do to lower the double-digit percentage of my cancers re-occurring? How do I not live the rest of my life stinky and dirty with a dirty house because I can’t find body wash, laundry detergent and toilet bowl cleaner that won’t kill me!? Well, the first thing I did was haul several bags to the trash bin followed by an exhaustive trip to several stores.
I realized that I had to create an environment where my immune system could have a fighting chance to keep me alive. I will never know exactly what caused my cancers, genetics, diet, environment, a little of them all? What I do know is, it is my responsibility to safeguard my home and not blindly assume just because a product says it’s natural or non-toxic that it actually is.
So, I began reading, researching, taking classes, consulting with labs, working with formularies and creating products which led to my new career, founder of Leslie Jane Naturals. That sounds so glamourous until you add product development, research, testing, inventory, production, packaging, graphic design, labeling, marketing, website management, copy writing, shipping/receiving, merchandising, wholesale, retail, bookkeeping and just general grunt. Plus, I’m taking classes towards a degree in Natural Cosmetic Science. Not so glamourous but the most rewarding work I’ve ever done.
So, LJN was created because of cancer, yes, but also because I absolutely believe that we should be able to care for ourselves, homes, and families without fear of exposure to ingredients that contribute to disease. I will continue to learn new and better ways to formulate safe, non-toxic, plant-based, and naturally preserved products that smell good, feel good and really work.
I am thankful to once again be cancer free and to offer these products to you. I hope you love them as much as I do.
Wishing you a healthier home and lifestyle,
Cancer Survivor & Founder