Interview by Katlyn Moncada
Can you imagine being told at a young age that you probably won’t live past the age of 18? Shelly Maguire had the unfortunate experience of going through this after being diagnosed with cystic fibrosis. However, Shelly did not let this stop her from achieving her dreams. Now after years of struggles, she is doing better than ever. After launching her business career in St. Louis, she developed her own skincare line, now featured on Home Shopping Network, and has released an autobiography that serves as an inspiration to anyone who reads it. ALIVE caught up with Shelly to talk about what motivates her to help others through her work.
ALIVE: What are your St. Louis roots?
Shelly Maguire: I moved to St. Louis in 1985. Upon getting to St. Louis, I established myself in the business community there. I opened up a chain of hair salons and spas. I also had tanning salons, Mailbox Etc. stores and dollar stores. I lived in West County area and still think of it as home because I spent so many years and was so entrenched in the community there.
ALIVE: Now you live in Florida?
SM: I relocated toFlorida after my business developing skincare products was picked up by HSN (Home Shopping Network). They are located in St. Petersberg, so we moved closer so we could be closer to do live shows.
ALIVE: You were diagnosed with CF at a young age?
SM: I was misdiagnosed for many years, which was really common back then because it was such a new disease. So few people had it and so few knew anything about it. I was misdiagnosed with bronchitis, pneumonia and those types of things until I was 12. Then, my mom and I went to a leading CF clinic in Philadelphia and got a really grim outlook from the doctor. He said the average age to expect was 18, maybe into my 20s. He described a progression of the disease and how it would take hold of my lungs and my body and treatments I would do…how it would get worse—They did not have the medicines then like they do now. There was never really a positive outlook, because they didn’t have any success with treating this disease.
ALIVE: Can you tell us about what motivated you to write your autobiography, “Dancing in the Storm,” to give the inside perspective on your experience with CF?
SM: When I first found out I had this disease, I was in denial. I didn’t want to be different and I didn’t like being sick. But, I didn’t want anyone to feel sorry for me. No one I grew up with knew I had CF. My family knew and were always there and supportive, but I never told anyone I was diagnosed with this disease. I never even talked about it at home. I even went into an extreme denial of what I would call self-abusive behavior just in spite of the disease. Once I hit 25, I had an epiphany. I was very sick, going into the hospital again and I was not living a lifestyle healthy or conducive to having CF. I made a decision at that point that life was worth living. I could take control of my life and change things if I wanted to, and it was like a switch. Overnight, I began adopting a full-time regimen of medication treatments. I started running three miles every day—even if there was an IV in my arm—and still do to this day. I’m 52 now, and don’t think I’ve missed more than a few days in the last 25 years.
Then I started letting everyone know about my disease. I found that my strength could maybe help inspire someone else. That is exactly what I found. People got inspiration from what I have been through. Instead of feeling sorry for me, it actually fed them with courage to take on their challenges in life. You have your failures and challenges, but you also have triumphs and I followed my dream with my close friends and family. What became so important was that it was not just about CF, it became about facing obstacles and breaking through barriers no matter what your challenges were—whether financial, marriage, love. At that point, I started getting letters and I realized that’s why I wanted to write this book.
ALIVE: Was it difficult to relay such personal information about yourself in words for everyone to read?
SM: Once I started writing, it was like I was reliving the emotions from my life. Everything was so clear to me as I was writing. I remember the stages that I went through. I was an angry child and then an obstinate adolescent and now a mature adult. Everything just flowed and even gave me better perspective on the way I lived… It was actually easier than I ever thought it would be.
ALIVE: What do you hope readers gain from reading about your experiences?
SM: There’s five key mental steps that I subconsciously go through in my life. These are ways for me to lay out how anyone can tackle a situation. There are ways we can teach ourselved to get beyond challenges… I’m seeing people walk away from this book realizing there are ways to get away from obstacles and reach dreams and break through barriers. My one favorite is, “Think like a child”—when you get into thinking about how children think, things become so much clearer. [Children] only think of how to get what they want. You can really teach yourself to do that as an adult. I have really laid out how to mentally go around barriers with these steps. I want to give others the strength and a method to do that.
ALIVE: You have your own skincare line called Ice Elements Skincare. How is that going?
SM: We’re known for our product the 2-minute Miracle. We named it with the word miracle after my whole story. I do live shows on HSN every couple of months and have been for the last eight years. I am a skincare formulator and we manufacture them at our plant in St. Louis. So they are all packaged and made locally there. With my own challenges due to my health, treatments and stress—just seeing how that manifests on the skin and seeing what other women go through in my salons—it gave me motivation to develop a line of skincare to help create simple ways to make changes with their skin using healthy and scientific ingredients. My husband, Frankie, and I do business together…we still maintain St. Louis as our business address. It’s an anti-aging line for maturing women. It’s for all skin types—men and women. It’s nice to be able to help people with skin. What I also like about it is being on live TV gives me interaction with women. It’s given me a way to inspire women in other ways in life.
ALIVE: How are you doing now?
SM: I started on a new medication that I do every other month. I started about four months ago. For the first time in many years, my lung volume is stable. I was on a decline for many years and now my lung volume is stable. Right now for the first time in many years I feel good. That’s the funny thing about this disease is one day feel great and then the next day it could change.
ALIVE: Are you working on any other upcoming projects?
SM: I just filmed and infomercial for the US and plan to expand to release in 71 countries. Mainly the U.S. and South America. I am also looking into writing another book that will look into delving into business and more of how to get ahead in these hard times with business challenges.