LBBC shop to support partner and blogger, Dana Donofree, is back sharing the 2nd part of her breast cancer story with us. To read part 1 click here. Today she shares how her surgery lead to life and career changing ideas and how it has directed her path for the future.
The positive to my diagnosis, if ever there could be one, was that I was HER2+. This made me a candidate for Herceptin. Before 2006, Herceptin was only used in late-stage cancers, but by the time of my diagnosis, it was approved to treat HER2+, and it had a very favorable success rate in battling the disease.
I kept thinking about the women before me with the same diagnosis prior to 2006. There were many who died waiting for the approval. There were many who died because they weren’t the right candidate. And now, there were many like me benefiting from the research and dollars drummed up by pink ribbons, walks and the memories of those women who were lost. I was grateful beyond words. Who is to say one way or another, but I believe the access to Herceptin saved my life.
There is a wave of fear, anxiety and doubt that follows the flood of joy when your cancer doctor releases you from care with clear scans and positive words. It is almost even more overwhelming than the fear that greets us survivors upon diagnosis. Because now life is forever altered. Now there is nothing but a new set of what-ifs with no real solutions to challenge them. Now I had to go back to life without cancer, but a life very different than the one BEFORE cancer. People like to call it the “new normal.” And I woke every day to a different battle ahead of me; one that was about restoring myself to some semblance of the Dana I was before the disease.
The doctors tell you what to expect with fatigue, Tamoxifen therapy, depression, anxiety, loss of femininity, loss of self and several pages of other symptoms and side effects. But what was most astonishing is that not one person prepared me for what clothes shopping was like with my new cancer-free body and gravity-defying breasts.
NOTHING fit right anymore. Not my cute tank tops. Not my sundresses. Not my flirty tees. And certainly not my bras; my wonderful, colorful, lacy, pretty VAST collection of bras and lingerie. Every trip to the boutique or mall was one that ended in exasperation and defeat. My doctor shrugged and said I could wear a sports bra. A sports bra? Those were reserved for my runs or bike rides. Not at work under a button-down and certainly not on a date.
Then the AH-HA moment happened. Out came my books, my pattern board, fabric swatches, mood boards. If there wasn’t a bra out there that fit me, I was going to make one. I made phone calls to manufacturers. I spent hours pouring over lace trims. I started designing for myself. I started thinking about this as a viable business. If I was having trouble with fit, surely someone else was, too. I drew up a plan, created a small line of lingerie, and AnaOno Intimates was born.
Dana was diagnosed with triple positive, infiltrative ductal carcinoma at 27. She currently lives in Philadelphia with her loving and super supportive husband. They love hiking and biking when the weather allows for it, and dancing and yoga to stay healthy! She fills her days working on AnaOno, a lingerie line for breast cancer survivors, and loves every moment of it! Shop AnaOno to benefit LBBC here or view the full site here.