“Cancer, Without You, I Wouldn’t Be The Woman I Am Today”

Dana-Donofree-BioDana Donofree is back on the LBBC blog for part 3 of her story about her breast cancer diagnosis and how it led her towards a completely different life and career direction than she had originally planned…

Cancer had officially taken my life on another path. Only this time, it was one I had always wanted: designing my own line and having my own business.  The concept for AnaOno Intimates came organically from within. After cancer and reconstructions, I’d walked into lingerie stores countless times, enthusiastic at first, but then leaving with nothing but self-loathing and tears because my body was forever altered. It was like I was back in my cancer treatment days, easily identifiable by my head scarf or lack of eyebrows and eyelashes. This time I was walking around with a giant, heavy stamp on my chest: NOT NORMAL. The sheer frustration  became absolutely maddening, but the pain of being “different” or “changed” or in some dark moments, “ruined” was unbearable. I made my mind up, I knew in that moment I never wanted another woman to EVER have to go through what I did; they should feel just as beautiful, confident and sexy as they did the days before reconstructive surgery. Cancer should not and WILL NOT take that away.

If passion were currency, my line would’ve launched overnight.. But, in reality, businesses cost money, and my day job was funding my dream job, so AnaOno developed slowly in my spare time. Every moment I wished to run headlong and launch already, I got snapped back to a slower pace.

Once again, a lesson I learned from having cancer was playing out in the real world. You just want it to be over, to be at the finish line, to go back to life before doctor’s visits and anti-nausea pills. You don’t want the baby steps of regaining strength and health, you just want to be better already!

I knew I innately had the patience and the will and the fight to accomplish my goals. After all, the cancer ordeal taught me I was a lot stronger and more determined than I had known previously. So, I took a deep breath (once again), and methodically did my research, took my steps, drew up lists and crossed off every hurdle, this time climbing the small business mountain.

It took me nearly a year, but with the help of friends and family I was able to proudly present AnaOno Intimates to the public in May of 2014. In that year I had not only designed a line, oversaw its manufacture and produced and directed a video featuring AnaOno and loosely telling my own story of beauty both lost and found (click here to view the video). I also met so many wonderful young survivors who are still great friends and  a constant inspiration. My relationships with them and the women I meet daily remind me why I keep working so hard to create my brand and product.

In July, 2014, I got connected with LBBC. So thankful to form a partnership with the organization that had been so helpful through my treatment and post-cancer life. I am so proud to say 10% of AnaOno’s sales of our popular, everyday “Jen” bra goes to fund the programs and resources LBBC provides.

Giving back and creating sisterhood is tantamount to AnaOno’s mission, so this opportunity gives me extraordinary gratitude. My experience with breast cancer has finally taken me full circle, from an everyday 20-something woman, to a cancer patient, to a survivor, to a business owner, to a woman who can make a difference in the lives of others.

And for that, I have to say, “Cancer, without you, I wouldn’t be the woman I am today.”

Read more about Dana’s story and browse her intimates line exclusively for women with breast cancer reconstruction at AnaOno.com. Follow her on Twitter @AnaOnoIntimates or like AnaOno Intimates on Facebook to join the sisterhood community.

Click here to read part one and part two of Dana’s story.

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