Cancer took her mom, a brain tumor took her dad, cancer came to take her, and a fire took down her business. But despite all the traumatic experiences, Vincene Parrinello never, ever gave up, and she has a cosmetic line to prove it.
Parrinello knows what it means to battle cancer not only from watching those around her suffer from it but also as a survivor herself. She remembers looking at the mirror and thinking “this is not me.”
Before letting the pain of cancer get to her and before losing hope like her mother had when she lost her battle to cancer, she knew she had to do something first.
“I was so angry because I thought, 'this has to end.' And when I began to notice the physical changes happening to me, and I was only 31 years old, I realized something had to be done. People shouldn't look like this, they are entitled to their dignity,” she told The Christian Post.
Parrinello was 24 when her mother died of breast cancer. Her mother was an Italian Catholic who kept a close relationship with God even after she was diagnosed with cancer and as she went through chemotherapy treatments. But her mother’s mood changed when she didn’t land a job that would help relieve her family’s financial woes. And ever since, she began to let the cancer take over her composure and looks.
Parrinello left Catholicism and began attending a nondenominational Christian church.
Two months before Parrinello’s wedding, her father was diagnosed with a massive brain tumor. She explained, “It also put my mother in a state of shock. If you see the videos of my wedding, she didn't even look like herself; she looked like a zombie walking down the aisle because she was in such a state of shock hearing that my father had a tumor and that he was dying.”
Her father died; her mother died six weeks later.
While her voice was breaking up she recalled, “I think that when a child loses her parents abruptly or that close, there is a lot there that leaves a hole in your heart and you don't really realize it until you get older.”
Years later, she too had to battle the disease at age 31, but while she was observing her reflection, she knew she didn’t want to let the cancer show as her mother had.
That is when, Parrinello, now 52, began looking into different cosmetics.
After realizing that many of the existing moisturizers on the market contained harsh chemicals, she said, “That's when I started to formulate my own moisturizer. That was the first cream that started me on this journey of skin care. The company did well, without having a business degree or a cosmetics background. I was shocked to see how far it got.”
During that time, she kept a personal relationship with God, she shared, especially knowing that it was easy for her to abandon her faith after all the traumas in her life.
“I had a very strong Christian background and fell back into my Bible and into a relationship with God. You know I think that as young women we kind of astray from that path; I'm not saying anyone does, but the majority of kids just do.”
Things took a bad turn when the San Diego fire in 2007 burned the very materials that her company depended on. “I didn’t have anything to make more products. That's when I said 'you know what, this is a sign that I'm not supposed to be doing this anymore.'”
She closed down her company after 19 years, which she found to be one of the hardest things to do. She said she felt almost the same “grief that I had felt when I had lost my parents.”
Later, she set up a small facial center but the high demand and people’s love for the product made her reconsider starting her business again.
“I had won some gold medals for some products that doctors used on their patients before the fire happen. That's when I wondered 'can I do this again? I don’t know if I have it in me.'”
She reformulated the products and began her Wai Hope organic skin care products.
“Despite my health challenges and emotional obstacles that this company can actually stand a chance, that’s when I realized that God continued to amaze me and teach me how things are possible.”
But to her, it’s not just a company; it’s a company that also represents Christ and his teachings, she said.
As a consumer of the products, her primary concern is quality over profit. Her main focus is offering a natural care without heavy chemicals.
To her surprise, she became once again, a successful business woman. Her life story only illustrates that “as long as you can believe that means that you had hope and hope is the benefit of faith. That’s how it works; it's a little cycle that you go through.”
Her advice to everyone is “never ever give up.”
“A Christian does not give up. I understand it from every angle; from being sick, not thinking that I would get better, to financial woes. You just don't give up. Sometimes God has to drop us to our knees so that the only thing we can do is look up."
Parrinello has been cancer free for 20 years.