I Am Back and Still Making Magic Products

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I am back!

I know it’s been some time since I’ve written about all the magical props and projects I’ve been working on. My hands have been a bit full over the past few months and I’d like to share with you now a little of what I’ve been dealing with.

As you know, my husband and best friend, Norm Nielsen, passed away last April. You all knew him as a remarkable world class magician, a magic builder, a vintage poster collector, and as a wonderful human being.  I still miss him every single day. A good thing is that I have the best support network a girl could ask for, with all my magic friends and extended family, that it has made it a little easier to bear.

But now, another challenge has come my way.

Dealing with Triple-Negative Breast Cancer

On October 5, 2020 I was diagnosed with cancer. The type of cancer I have is Triple Negative Breast Cancer – Stage IIA. Which means that I have a tumor the size of a small lime measuring over 4 cm in diameter. The staging tells us that it has not spread quite yet to the lymph nodes. This cancer represents 15% of all breast cancers, and is attributed to genetics. Alas! I came out negative on the genetic test, which means that no one has any idea what caused it.

The bad news is that this is the most aggressive form of breast cancer there is, and it is the one that kills most women with the disease. There are no medications for it either, because it has no receptors that react to modern drugs. It is not affected by estrogen, progesterone, or the HER2 protein, hence the name of “triple negative”.

The “good news” is that it was caught early and it does react well to an equally aggressive chemotherapy treatment.

I am grateful to the medical team I am seeing at Comprehensive Cancer Centers of Nevada. A week after the diagnosis, I saw both my surgeon and oncologist, who immediately put me in a chemotherapy regimen, which I started during the first week of November.

My view from a chemotherapy chair.
This is what I see from the chemotherapy chair. Sessions are currently four hours long.

The treatment consists of eight chemo sessions, once every two weeks, for four months. 

The idea is to reduce the size of the tumor to, hopefully, the size of a small pea. That will allow the surgeon to excise it with a simple lumpectomy surgery, instead of having to remove the entire breast. This will be followed by radiation.

Overall, it sounds like a good plan. Unfortunately, this cancer can be chronic, and the odds of getting it again are high. But I remain positive and I hope to live the rest of my days with a relatively good quality of life.

By now I only have one more chemo treatment to go, and I feel relatively okay. Side effects have been the typical ones: Hair loss, fatigue, nausea, dry skin, dry hands with fingernail pigmentation, dry mouth, occasional myalgia and arthralgia after treatment, etc.

As one undergoes these treatments, a person learns their “chemo schedule”.  There are “bad days” which are the three to four days after treatment, followed by the “good days”, during which one has enough energy to work. I love the good days.

Still making magic props at Nielsen Magic

Lupe Nielsen Selfie: in my natural habitat
I love being in my magic workshop. This selfie shows me wearing the perfect mask for Covid times, and, for spray painting lacquer.

Speaking of good days and work, I’m grateful for the work I have and that I have managed to remain quite active during this time. Due to physical issues, I am not able to do heavy duty production work right now, but I am still able to work on various lighter, yet productive projects and make an income.

Here are things I have worked on in the last few months:

MAGIC EFFECTS- VISIBLE BLOCK PENETRATIONS:

I finished an entire batch of Visible Block Penetrations. These are featured in the latest Eugene Burger book by Larry Hass.

Visible Block Penetrations Magic Props
A finished batch of Visible Block Penetrations. Ready to be packed and shipped!

POSTER BUSINESS- PICTURE FRAMES:

I finished making a batch of picture frames that will house large posters for a client.

Making Picture Frames for some large magic posters!
I made these picture frames recently for some large posters.

WOODWORKING AND MAGICAL ILLUSIONS:

I helped a dear friend of mine, who happens to be an illusion builder, with woodworking issues in an illusion he was making. For this effect, he needed an octagonal compound miter dome atop the main box. Combining magic and woodworking is one of my favorite problems to solve!

Magic Illusion: Compound miters
I helped my friend make the compound miter dome on a box for an illusion he was working on.
Magical Illusions
He did a beautiful job in painting the dome. The box is now atop the illusion.

MAGIC POSTER REPRODUCTIONS:

I worked on printing more magic poster reproductions.

Magic Poster Reproduction of Chung Ling Soo by Nielsen Magic
One of the many magic poster reproductions I made during these months. This is a Friedlander Chung Ling Soo Portrait.

HOLIDAY CRAFTS & GIFTS:

Putting my woodworking skills to use, I made lots of Christmas knick-knacks for clients and for my entire medical team: From custom pens, to cutting boards, to pill holders, etc.

Woodturnings
Turnings I made for a client who purchased them as Christmas gifts. The bowl is made out of mesquite, the pen is maple burl.
Custom Keychain pill box
One of the many knick knacks I made for Christmas. This is a keychain pill box. The wood is an exquisite maple burl.

MAGIC WANDS:

I made magic wands for a few clients, and even a magic wand stand for another one!

Houdini wand - handmade magic wand by Nielsen Magic
One of the magic wands I made in the last few months. Wood: Oak with ebony tips.
Magic Wand stand that holds two magic wands
I made this magic wand stand for a client. The wood for it was bird’s eye maple. It is a nice and simple piece.

NIELSEN MAGIC PRODUCTS:

Some of the most well known items from Nielsen Magic, I made a batch of Nielsen Latex Canaries and Nielsen Vanishing Champagne Bottles.

Nielsen Vanishing Champagne Bottles
A batch of Nielsen Vanishing Champagne Bottles.

OKITO-NIELSEN CHINESE STICKS:

A very popular item that I sell on Nielsen Magic’s shopping site.
A finished batch of Okito-Nielsen Chinese Sticks.

Okito-Nielsen Chinese Sticks by Nielsen Magic
This is another batch of the ever popular Okito-Nielsen Chinese Sticks.

What am I working on now?

I am currently working on another batch of marionette controllers for my friends at the Scott Land School of Puppetry.

Reflecting on my last few months

After making the above list, I am amazed at what I have accomplished during this time. I am also deeply grateful for all our friends and clients who have supported my small business during these strange pandemic times.

“What’s next?”, you might ask?

Frankly, I don’t know. I currently live my life one project after the next, one day at a time, and hoping to figure out what I am going to do when I grow up.

Once I do get better, I know that I plan to make a batch of Dean’s Boxes (a trick for which Nielsen Magic acquired the rights) and hopefully have them ready by the end of summer.

In the meantime, you can follow me on Instagram: @nnmagic.lupe  and on Facebook at Nielsen Magic.

Be well, stay healthy and safe!

Yours truly
This is what I look like today. I have lost my hair due to chemo. Hair is overrated. At least I don’t have to worry about it. Lol!

 – Lupe Nielsen
(February 7, 2021)

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