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    No. 267: No One Fights Alone

    The Lori Goldstein x AnaOno collection is more than just adding cute colorful patterns to our products. It's about bringing strength, bringing hope, bringing awareness. This curated collection is here for everyone to learn and understand more about Triple Negative Breast and learn how important donating and advocating for the disease really is. Each person involved within the creation and the exportation of the collection has had their own personal experience with Triple Negative Breast Cancer and we would like to share their inspiring stories with all of you. 

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    Meet Valerie Blackwell-Howard

    Tell us about your diagnosis ( dates, surgeries, treatment - as much info and as much as you'd like to share)

    "Breast cancer was always a concern for me. I’m a mother, wife, and grandmother; and my mother had breast cancer. My mother was diagnosed when she was 38 years old, however she kept it a secret from our family. She did that because she did not want to scare my siblings and I, as we were young at the time. Because of my family history, I always made it certain to schedule an annual mammogram. Then one year in my mid-50s, my life felt so hectic, that I ended up skipping my mammogram. Months later, while taking a shower I found a small lump in my breast. I scheduled an appointment shortly after where I was then diagnosed with stage II, Triple Negative Breast Cancer."

    "After finishing treatment my sister Deborah urged me to attend a conference in Philadelphia for women with Triple Negative Breast Cancer.  While at the conference I felt inspired by all of the strong individuals who I met. I decided I wanted to become more involved as a patient advocate and in 2019 I received the Courage Award from the Triple Negative Breast Cancer Foundation for my support. “

    What do you wish people knew about TNBC?

    "That black women are diagnosed with TNBC at 3X the rate of white women and that Triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) is more aggressive and difficult to treat than other breast cancer subtypes.  After a diagnosis of TNBC you can thrive and live a happy life."

    What is your passion?

    "My passion today is God first, myself second, and then my family.  Also advocating to save our mothers, daughters, granddaughters, and sisters because we cannot let misinformation about breast cancer take our lives.  We can do this if you all get and participate in clinical trials to get the drugs to stop breast cancer in all women."

    How did your caregivers help you through the process?

    "I thank God for my caregivers during my diagnosis of TNBC.  My husband (Curtiss) daughter  (Nastassja)  and sister (Deborah) and my sons, and daughters-in-law were my main caretakers.  I had a whole team available for all my needs.  During treatment, surgeries and even now.  One or all of them would drive me and attend doctor’s appointments and take down information concerning my diagnosis, treatment, and care.  They would pray, hold, hug & console me when needed.  They all gave me my strength on the days that I felt weak.  Forever grateful.  I cannot leave out my grandchildren because each day Malachi Jr, Sanai & Jayden in their own way encouraged me to keep fights and not to give up.  I made it. "

    Want to learn more about Valerie? Check her out on instagram @forever_yung15mommy417

    Meet Valerie Blackwell, TNBC Thriver and TNBC Foundation member

    Meet Kelly Thomas

    TNBC? Tell us about your diagnosis

    "I was diagnosed with stage 3c triple negative breast cancer on January 31, 2018. My largest tumor was 3.3 cm with 10+ lymph nodes affected. I had 16 Neo-adjuvant chemo (chemo before surgery). 4 AC, 4, Carboplatins, 8 Taxols. I also underwent a nipple sparing, skin sparing double mastectomy with delayed reconstruction. I did not have a complete response, I had 28 rounds of radiation, followed by 6 months of oral chemotherapy. I had my tissue expanders for 13 months before I had my swap surgery (under the muscle 750 cc breast implants) I finished active treatment for TNBC in July 2019 and have been NED since."

    What do you wish people knew about TNBC?

     1. We have the least amount of treatments available out of all breast cancers.

     2. When active treatment is done, we don't have a daily pill to take.

     3. Our cancer has the highest risk of recurrence within the first 5 years.

     4. TNBC has the lowest survival rate of all breast cancer types.

    What is your passion?

    "I enjoy advocating for triple negative breast cancer, as well as supporting the TNBC community with @tnbc_thrivers, hosting zoom chats for the TNBC Foundation and vlogging my experience as a TNBC survivor on social media. Mentoring new and existing TNBC survivors means the world to me."

    How did your caregivers help you through the process?

    "My husband attended nearly all of my chemotherapies, as well as took care of me post surgery and made sure I had everything I needed. From setting me up in my recliner chair as I recovered from my double mastectomy, to measuring and emptying my drains, to tracking my meds, to having food available because I couldn't get up and make it myself."

    If you could give advice to someone diagnosed with TNBC- what would you say?

    "Don't let the stories you find on the internet of fallen thrivers live in your head rent free - their story isn't your story and there's a whole community of women thriving after a diagnosis of TNBC. 

    Put yourself out there, go to survivor meet ups, give a survivor keynote, get out of your comfort zone, slide into a thrivers DMs, make a silly TikTok, start your own cancer community. Some of the best experiences I've had and friendships I've made were with opportunities that I would have never imagined doing."

    Did you the the new Kelly bra was named after Kelly Thomas? That's right, Kelly was the muse for the newly designed Kelly and we are so grateful for her!

    Want to learn more about Kelly? Check her out on instagram @talkischeapxo

    Shop the Kelly

    TNBC Thriver Kelly Thomas

    Meet Melissa AKA Cancer Fashionista 

    Tell us about your diagnosis

    "At age 32 I tested positive for the BRCA gene. I wasn’t surprised, as there was a history of breast cancer in my family. My oncologist and I agreed that knowledge is power and my BRCA gene status would now become the “GPS” to my health. I was closely observed and was diligent about making sure I got my mammograms, MRI’s and clinical exams on a regular basis. When I was 42, I scheduled my annual mammogram appointment. This was an unusual one for me because the clinician discovered a very small (but suspicious) lump right away. They weren’t sure what it was, so they did a quick biopsy. Benign. “Phew,” I thought.

    Shortly after this initial diagnosis, the doctor then came in and said “I see a shadow." Within minutes I found myself undergoing another biopsy. My head was spinning and I couldn’t process what was happening, everything was moving so quickly. Ultimately, I was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer. Luckily I got an appointment the very next day with a top breast surgeon, and was given my treatment options. I was told that once I hit my 5-year mark, the chances of a recurrence was slim to none. I hit this milestone about 5 years ago and am coming up on my 10 year cancerversary this March. I was under close surveillance because I had a very strong family history and elected to have genetic testing. I consider myself very lucky for having an early diagnosis and a positive outcome. Sadly, many women in their late 20’s and early 30’s who are ultimately diagnosed with Triple Negative Breast Cancer may not have been taken very seriously during their initial consult. Younger women are often dismissed simply because they’re pre-menopausal. I hope my story illustrates the fact that knowledge is power. My medical treatment, along with the incredible support from my family and the Triple Negative Breast Cancer Foundation and community all contributed to the good health that I so humbly enjoy today. There is life after breast cancer! I’m so proud to give back through my fashion and beauty blog cancerfashionista.com, my, "Dear Cancer, I'm Beautiful" podcast as well as my other endeavors and advocacy work."

    How did your caregivers help you throughout your process?

    "I was so lucky to be surrounded by my friends and family to help me throughout my treatment. The most helpful support was the day to day help with the kids, the house, the laundry, etc. My college friends sent us a gift card to a local restaurant, which I thought was so creative but also very practical."

    What do you do to feel confident and embrace your body?

    "Feeling confident and embracing your body after a breast cancer diagnosis and treatment is definitely an inside job. It's a process and something we need to work hard at, breast cancer or not. For me it's all about self care. Putting the healthiest food I can into my body. Hydrating as much as possible. Exercise, meditation. It may seem superficial, but treating yourself to fun, new clothing is a wonderful confident booster. Especially if your current wardrobe isn't serving you any longer. And most importantly, be kind to yourself."

    Want to learn more about Melissa? Check her out on instagram @cancerfashionista

    TNBC Thriver Melissa Berry aka Cancer Fashionista

    Meet Vaishalee Howey

    Tell us about your diagnosis

    "I was diagnosed with stage 3b TNBC on February 22, 2019. I had node involvement. Chemotherapy - ACT and Taxol Double mastectomy on September 11, 2019 without reconstruction. I had PCR. 30 radiation treatments with active treatment complete in December of 2019."

    What is your passion?

    "My family, baking, and leading a life with conviction while trying to help others around me and in my community."

    What does Never Alone mean to you?

    "It means community, support and hope to me. Despite cancer being one of the worst things that can happen to a person, there is an entire community of women who truly understand what you are going through. No matter your situation or circumstance you are never alone because those cancer sisters are always there for you - to listen, to help, to guide, to cry with you, to celebrate your wins as if they were theirs and everything in between."

    Want to learn more about Vaishalee? Check her out on instagram @vaishaleehowey

    TNBC Thriver Vaishalee

    Meet Ricki Fairley

    Tell us about your diagnosis

    "I was diagnosed with TNBC at Stage 3A in September 2011. I had a double mastectomy, 6 rounds of aggressive chemo and 6 weeks of radiation. I was told I was okay. Almost exactly a year to the date of my diagnosis, a PET scan identified 5 spots on my chest wall. My doctor said, “Ricki you are now metastatic. Get your affairs in order, you have 2 years to live.” I told her that I couldn’t die then because I had to put my Hayley through Dartmouth and had to work to pay for it and that her, me, and God and some drugs had to work something out. I had to advocate for myself because she had no answers for me. I went to Dr. Google and on the third page, I found the TNBC Foundation. I called them, Hayley Dinerman found me a doctor in Atlanta where I lived, one of about 5 docs in the country that were researching TNBC. She put me on two drugs that were experimental for TNBC, and I am still here 11 years later. I know that I am a miracle and God left me here to do this work. God gave me my purpose, mission and ministry and I fight like a girl every day to help my Breasties deal with this awful disease. I have been on the board for the TNBC Foundation since I got well, and we strive to be a haven for TNBC information, resources, and Breastie Love. I quit my life and started a new one. I divorced my waistband of 30 years, quit my business partners of 10 years, sold my 5-bedroom house on 2 acres, and moved to a small condo on the beach. I had to get all the cancers out of my life and learn that my peace is non-negotiable."

    What do you wish people knew about TNBC?

    "Everything! That it's the most dangerous, fatal and the only breast cancer subtype that does not have a drug to prevent recurrence. That Black women get it at 3 times the rate of White women. And Black women get it at younger ages and later stages. And that we only have one treatment option for early stages and two for metastatic--we need more drugs. We need to advance the science. If you are a Black woman under that age of 40 diagnosed with TNBC, a clinical trial is your best option for treatment."

    If you were to give advice to someone diagnosed with TNBC-what would you say?

    "Get the best care you can. Make sure your health professionals practice the "golden rule"--treat others as they want to be treated. Challenge them to give you the care they would give their own mom, daughter, grandmother, auntie. And know that your peace is non-negotiable. Get rid of all the cancers in your life and find peace in your life."

    What does Never Alone mean to you?

    "No one can fight this fight alone. You truly need support and lots of love around you. Breastie Love is unconditional and really helps you cope."

    Want to learn more about Ricki? Check her out on instagram @rickidove

    TNBC Thriver Ricki Fairly

    Meet Jinomarie Myles

    Tells us about your diagnosis

    "I got diagnosis with stage 4 triple negative breast cancer in June of 2020. I did chemotherapy for 3 weeks on and one week off starting in July 2020. I then moved home to Buffalo in September 2021 to see another doctor in October where I had chemo from two weeks on and one we off ending in March. It's been a journey throughout my breast cancer battle. Before I was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer, I was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer and underwent a mastectomy in 2019. Before all of that I was also diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma stage 4, which I survived due to the chemo and radiation I underwent."

    What do you wish people knew about TNBC?

    "I definitely recommend that you get your genetic testing done and get chemo and get a second or third opinion and stay on top always as questions make sure you have a great care time as well and lots of faith and support from people and ask for help if you need it."

    If you were to give advice to someone who was diagnosed with TNBC, what would you say?

    "Stay prayed up, always ask questions, do your research and get in touch with women like yourself because you can learn things that will help you along the way; open up and don't be scared to reach out. I am here to support anyone who needs me and will always be praying for all of us."

    Want to learn more about Jinomarie? Check her out on instagram @jaylove8383

    Meet Jinomarie TNBC Thriver

    Shop the full collection

    When you wear your new Lori Goldstein x AnaOno products, remind yourself of these women and their inspiring stories through triple negative breast cancer. This collection is here to support them and everyone who triple negative breast cancer has affected in some way. We want to help make the cure for TNBC just one step closer.

     

    Dana Donofree

    Dana Donofree

    Founder and CEO of AnaOno. After a diagnosis of breast cancer in her late 20’s, Dana took her own lived experience and fashion design background and (re)designed intimates for those that have undergone breast surgery. Dana’s story has been published around the world in outlets like New York Times, BBC, Huffington Post, The Today Show, and more.