If I could, would I take it back? Absolutely…but since we live in the real world and that is virtually impossible, can we make the best out of a worst case scenario? Maybe some people like the glass half full, some like it half empty…but I say if life throws you lemons, throw them back in their face!
I was diagnosed with breast cancer at the most imperfect time in my life (well we all know there is not a good time for this, EVER, but just sayin’), it was a day before my 28th birthday and two months before our planned Las Vegas wedding. The diagnosis was an absolute shock to myself, my fiancé, friends and family. I was after all 27 years old…not the perfect picture of health, but I tried. I stayed pretty active and fit, took decent care of myself, may have lived an overly exciting and fast paced lifestyle, but I wouldn’t take any of it back, I don’t think I could have stopped the cancer from coming at some point in my life.
A cancer diagnosis is never easy, but as a young woman preparing to start my life with my fiancé, having an early start to a successful career and ready to conquer the world, this was a complete blow to everything I thought I had ahead of me, I knew life was forever altered from here on out.
After a grueling regime of chemotherapy, a bilateral mastectomy, a full year of Herceptin therapy that targets HER2+ cancer, and a continuous treatment hormonally, I finally got married to the man I love that was so crazy supportive during this whole thing called Cancer.
Then it came to me, what’s next? I can’t take cancer back, we all know that, but cancer did open a door for me that I always dreamt about. During treatment, a challengpopped up in the most unexpected of places, I had a hard time fitting into my clothes! I had continued working during treatment and after surgery, I was young, I had to pay my bills, there was not a “savings account” to keep us afloat during this time of turmoil. So getting dressed in the morning for that days’ business meeting was a challenge, and that challenge started in one place -my underwear drawer. NONE of my bras fit me! I didn’t have any options outside of a sports bra or camisole that was even remotely comfortable to wear under my “work clothes”, and these tiny touches of my wardrobe were a far cry from boosting my confidence. I completely changed my wardrobe to baggie shirts that would cover my square “lego boobs” and allowed me to not show off strange necklines that would expose my hot pink sports bras underneath. I kept telling myself that this was temporary, that after my reconstruction, once the expanders were removed, I would be back to “normal.” Maybe that is why they call it the “new” normal, because we are always seeking a version of something before cancer….but we all know it isn’t normal at all. It’s completely different.
Well my reconstruction came and went…and well, I started putting on my pretty lacy bras I wore before surgery, believing that one, just one would still fit me. NOPE … here I go again…. nothing fit me. That was it, the entire drawer will go to the donation center, some woman with REAL boobs will get to enjoy all my expensive bras, but hey, she may need them more than I do (obviously). So that leads me to my first trip to the store, after reconstruction, where I would be sure to find something…NADA. Instead I left in tears with my breast friend by my side not knowing what were the right words to say to me. So then, the always overwhelming internet search…What is the best bra after reconstruction? Then really…what I was to find broke my heart even more, I felt the options were very “medical”-not fashionable at all and clearly not meant for a 28 year old! Could this be happening? Is this really what I am to deal with after breast cancer? That’s when one night, while lying awake in bed (probably from an evening hot flash), I thought to myself…”I cannot be the only woman with this problem. I have to do something about this!”
That’s when cancer gave me what I have always dreamt about, owning & launching my own fashion line. AnaOno Intimates was born that night. I knew I would enter into a new chapter, closing the one before, the healing chapter, take a turn in my journey and I would bring flirty, comfortable lingerie to women after breast cancer!
By Dana Donofree