After her mastectomy, Dana Donofree couldn’t find a bra that fit. So she did something about it.
Going through a life-changing event like having breast cancer can bring on many unexpected challenges. On top of trying to stay positive about your breast cancer diagnosis and undergoing breast cancer treatment, you may also look in the mirror and not recognize yourself. You may feel like a new person—and not in a way that you’d expect.
Dana Donofree was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 27. After her bilateral mastectomy—a surgical operation to remove both breasts—she struggled to accept her new body and feel good in her own skin. “I was still seeing the body that was torn apart and put back together. I wasn’t seeing me,” says Donofree.
It wasn’t until she went shopping for something sexy for her honeymoon that she hit a new low. Donofree and her best friend searched far and wide for lingerie that she could feel good in and found nothing. “We literally tore through an entire lingerie department,” she says.
She went to her doctor to seek guidance about the problem she was having, and they referred her to a specialty foundation shop that carried mastectomy bras.
“I just came in and [blurted] out to her, ‘I had breast cancer. I was told to come here for a bra. I just want something sexy,’” said Donofree.
She started shopping and began to try on the merchandise, until she was hit with a wave of sadness and frustration. None of these bras looked good. None of these bras fit her. None of these bras made her feel sexy.
“I just sat in that fitting room and I cried silently,” says Donofree. “That’s when I knew, that there was nothing for me. And that I had cancer, and women with cancer are different than regular women. And that I am no longer normal. That now, I am a woman who has had breast cancer that can never feel sexy again in her life. And that’s what that moment felt like for me.”
That was a sad moment for Donofree, but it had a silver lining. It inspired her in a way she never expected. She knew she had to take this issue into her own hands.
She started by cutting up and refashioning bras she had that weren’t breast cancer-friendly. After slicing and dicing bras to make them fit her body, she came to another realization: She couldn’t be the only woman who felt this way.
“I have to save that next 27-year-old that’s diagnosed with breast cancer from this experience. I don’t want anyone to every feel this again,” says Donofree.
That’s when her company, AnaOno, was born. AnaOno’s mission is to provide garments for women who have had breast reconstruction, breast surgery, and mastectomy.
“It’s technically a bra,” Donofree says with a smile, “but at the end of the day it’s a piece of yourself, and your life. [It’s] who you are as a woman that you get to celebrate in a way that you feel good about.”
Get a glimpse of the AnaOno line, and learn how to find the right bra and dress yourself after breast cancer here:
00:00:00,000 --> 00:00:02,444
00:00:02,444 --> 00:00:07,417
It all came boiling down to the fact
that I couldn't expose my body to
00:00:07,417 --> 00:00:09,170
somebody that I loved.
00:00:11,200 --> 00:00:14,880
I was still seeing the body that was
torn apart and put back together.
00:00:14,880 --> 00:00:17,170
I wasn't seeing me.
00:00:19,480 --> 00:00:22,433
00:00:22,433 --> 00:00:24,075
I'm about to get married, and
00:00:24,075 --> 00:00:28,680
all I'm thinking about is what sexy
outfits am I gonna wear on my honeymoon.
00:00:28,680 --> 00:00:30,560
I was a fashion designer and
00:00:30,560 --> 00:00:35,360
I figured I could find the solution out
on the market if I looked hard enough.
00:00:35,360 --> 00:00:38,290
My best friend came out
before the wedding and said,
00:00:38,290 --> 00:00:41,380
"Let's just go bra shopping
together; we'll figure it out.
00:00:41,380 --> 00:00:44,015
We'll find you something."
We literally tore through
00:00:44,015 --> 00:00:46,350
an entire lingerie department.
00:00:46,350 --> 00:00:48,860
I asked my doctor; I'm like finally
there's gotta be an answer.
00:00:48,860 --> 00:00:50,030
He's gotta have the answer.
00:00:50,030 --> 00:00:52,800
why can't I find a bra that fits?
00:00:52,800 --> 00:00:54,400
I said, "I know this sounds so trivial and
00:00:54,400 --> 00:00:58,922
probably not something I'm supposed to be
asking you, but I'm confused." There's
00:00:58,922 --> 00:01:05,080
a specialty foundation shop down in
downtown, why don't you go to them.
00:01:05,080 --> 00:01:06,740
They have mastectomy bras and
00:01:06,740 --> 00:01:10,640
then they also have like other bras
too; maybe you can find something there.
00:01:10,640 --> 00:01:13,650
I just come in and I just blurt
out to her, I said, "You know,
00:01:13,650 --> 00:01:15,800
I had breast cancer.
00:01:15,800 --> 00:01:17,270
I was told to come here for a bra.
00:01:17,270 --> 00:01:21,330
I just want something sexy." She goes,
" don't worry honey.
00:01:21,330 --> 00:01:27,670
I'm so glad you're here; we have all sorts
of bras for women with breast cancer."
00:01:27,670 --> 00:01:32,340
I get ushered into the back dressing room,
and she does some measurements on me.
00:01:33,440 --> 00:01:39,050
I just sat in that fitting room,
and I cried silently.
00:01:39,050 --> 00:01:46,130
That's when I knew that there was
nothing for me, and that I had cancer.
00:01:46,130 --> 00:01:50,870
And women with cancer are different
than regular women, and
00:01:50,870 --> 00:01:52,756
that I am no longer normal.
00:01:52,756 --> 00:01:56,680
And now I am a woman who
has had breast cancer
00:01:56,680 --> 00:01:58,579
that can never feel
sexy again in her life.
00:01:59,670 --> 00:02:03,650
And that's what that moment felt like for
00:02:03,650 --> 00:02:10,310
After all of this trying different things
on, and pulling apart different bras, and
00:02:10,310 --> 00:02:14,880
putting them back together, and cutting
and slicing and dicing and re-sewing.
00:02:14,880 --> 00:02:18,642
All these things I was doing just to make
myself comfortable that I couldn't be
00:02:18,642 --> 00:02:20,637
the only one that was experiencing this,
00:02:20,637 --> 00:02:22,981
I couldn't be the only
woman that felt this way.
00:02:22,981 --> 00:02:27,459
I have to save that next 27
year old that's diagnosed with
00:02:27,459 --> 00:02:30,700
breast cancer from this experience.
00:02:30,700 --> 00:02:34,550
I don't want anybody to ever feel this,
00:02:34,550 --> 00:02:38,329
And if all I had was something
that just made me feel normal or
00:02:38,329 --> 00:02:42,938
made me feel like a human being and
not a lab rat and not a science project,
00:02:42,938 --> 00:02:47,722
I think I could have put some of the other
pieces of my life together faster.
00:02:47,722 --> 00:02:53,022
It's technically a bra,
but at the end of the day,
00:02:53,022 --> 00:02:58,076
it's a piece of yourself and
your life and who you
00:02:58,076 --> 00:03:05,491
are as a woman that you get to celebrate
in a way that you feel good about.
00:03:05,491 --> 00:03:09,800
Mastectomy. American Cancer Society. (Accessed on November 27, 2018 at https://www.cancer.org/cancer/breast-cancer/treatment/surgery-for-breast-cancer/mastectomy.html)