We thought we would introduce you to the women on our website and the individuals who walked at NYFW. Besides getting to know some of the amazing people who make up not only the AnaOno community, but the breast cancer community, too, our hope is to share wisdom and experiences of life both during and after cancer treatment, as well as those whose lives will forever include treatment for breast cancer.
And, Alison is up first.
We initially met Alison after she responded to an open casting call for our Farmhouse #IAmAnaOno photo shoot. Smart, funny and always willing to help, Alison was actually the one who found the beautiful farmhouse location after Dana had mentioned looking for a property to use. She happened to know the owners. Since then Alison has been a big, big part of our AnaOno family. She contributed digital design and print collateral (and even two looks) for our New York Fashion Week show, and was a huge help behind the scenes. Among her work backstage, she was responsible for adding glitter, and more glitter, and even MORE glitter. Alison was also the wonderful den mother who kept us all hydrated, well-fed and on schedule throughout the entire week.
Today Alison is still a part of AOHQ, and always contributing where needed, whether it is meeting with a wholesale client or attending conventions.
We asked her 13 questions and a few details:
DATE AND DIAGNOSIS: Stage I, ER+, PR+, Her-2 negative, 02-04-2014
SURGERY CHOICE: Bilateral Mastectomy with Implant reconstruction 3-20-2014
TREATMENT: Four rounds of chemotherapy
IF THERE WERE A BOOK, SERIES OR MOVIE ABOUT YOUR CANCER STORY, WHAT WOULD IT BE CALLED?
How Steep is Your Rollercoaster?
I Might Be a Cat.
IF YOU COULD GO BACK AND TALK TO YOURSELF AFTER YOU WERE DIAGNOSED, WHAT WOULD YOU SAY?
Nothing, nothing anyone can say can really help you at that moment. You only gain perspective with experience. I reached out to others who had already been through it it. I listened to them, but I knew everyone’s flavor of cancer is different. Even if I have the same exact diagnosis as 10 other people, our outcome will be different. If I went back and told myself everything I knew now the excitement of learning all this new stuff ,as much as it all sucked, would be taken away from me. I would have also never met most of the people I did going through the learning process.
HOW HAS YOUR LIFE CHANGED AFTER CANCER?
My filter is gone. I used to worry about upsetting people by doing things that made me happy. I no longer worry. I feel like I’m more myself than I ever was.
WHAT KINDS OF THINGS HAVE BEEN CHALLENGING FOR YOU IN THIS “NEW NORMAL” (and even why you don’t feel like life after cancer is new or normal?)? HOW HAVE YOU BEEN ABLE TO WORK THROUGH THEM?
Getting sick or hurt really can put me into a funk. I recently broke my pelvis and ribs in a car accident. Dealing with going back to all the doctors and therapists again was starting to take its toll on me. I was, once again, the youngest person in the waiting room, because only old ladies and I break the bones I broke, LOL. It made me realize what a blessing a good nurse navigator is. When I started to finally feel better and make progress walking again, it was much easier to deal with.
WHAT KINDS OF THINGS HAVE YOU EMBRACED IN THIS “NEW NORMAL?” DID IT TAKE YOU ANY TIME TO GET TO THAT PLACE?
I like to think of this as an evolution, like a Pokemon. My stamina might not be as good on some days, but my powers of persuasion and entertainment have increased with this evolution.
WHAT IS YOUR BIGGEST PRIORITY AT THE MOMENT? HOW IS IT DIFFERENT THAN IT MAY HAVE BEEN BEFORE CANCER?
Not to say no to any opportunity worth trying. I am not the shy person I was once before cancer. People don’t believe me when I tell them I was a shy wallflower who was hesitant to talk to anyone. I show them pictures of me, and they don’t believe it’s me.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE WAY TO DE-STRESS, DECOMPRESS AND RELAX?
Snuggle with my dogs.
Read the internet.
NAME THREE THINGS THAT HAPPENED IN THE PAST WEEK YOU ARE GRATEFUL FOR:
No cavities at the dentist.
WHAT WAS YOUR BIGGEST SUCCESS IN THE PAST WEEK? HOW DID YOU CELEBRATE IT OR HOW DID IT CHANGE YOUR SENSE OF SELF?
I had a major success finding a vendor for a client. It was way out of my league of vendors but the universe smiled upon me and let me make that connection happen. It was a great feeling to help both the vendor and the client make that relationship. It made me prove to myself, that I don’t have to always have to stay in my comfort zone. I must always reach past it and just hope for the best.
WHAT WAS YOUR LOW POINT IN THE PAST WEEK? HOW DID YOU PUSH THROUGH IT?
I realized that due to my recent accident I missed out on a bunch of stuff. I had a little pity party and got over it. I usually give myself a time limit to feel upset. When I do that it's easier to get out of the funk.
WHEN YOU’RE FEELING ANXIOUS OR SAD, OR STRUGGLING WITH YOUR BODY IMAGE, WHAT DO YOU TELL YOURSELF?
I honestly don’t worry about my body image. It’s my body. I have the same issues that all other women have; nothing has changed. But my perspective has. I know it’s going to keep changing. I’m not getting any younger. I dress how I want. My hair will be whatever color I want. And I will mark my body with tattoos and wear fun clothes out of the kids' section. Because all that stuff makes me happy. If the way I look upsets someone, it’s not my problem. If the way I look ever upsets me or makes me anxious, I know the steps I need to take to make me not [upset]. I cannot worry about things I can’t control, as long as I take care of the stuff I can.
IF YOU COULD GO ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD, AND BE ANYTHING YOU WANTED TO BE WITH NO LIMITATIONS, WHERE WOULD YOU GO AND WHAT WOULD YOU DO?
I would travel the world and try to see it all. I would meet all the friends I have made online in this sorority no one pledges.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE ANAONO BRA, WHAT IS YOUR TRADITIONAL SIZE AND WHAT ANAONO SIZE DO YOU WEAR?
30” band / DD cup
5'11 / 165 lbs
I can wear a S, M or a Large, LOL. Dana says I am an anomaly.
The medium is the most comfortable on me.
I wear the Kelly the most. (So does my daughter). We have a lot of the same styles, and I have gotten stuck/tangled in her XS when I forgot to read the label first. I like the Kelly because for me it’s the most accommodating for change. In my recent car accident, my implants shifted. YIKES! If I were wearing another type of bra, my foob would not have been in the right place to fit in the cup. I have had no problems with that bra.
Shop Alison’s favorite style, the Kelly, here.
WHERE CAN WE FIND YOU ONLINE OR ON SOCIAL MEDIA?
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Guest Post: Katharine Doughty
When I found a lump in my chest in early 2010, I was ten years into a series of 26 self-portraits with four 4 images to complete. A theme of reclaiming runs throughout the project: reclaiming of self-representation, of our personal and collective stories and the power of visual image. Be it ten years or ten minutes, the essential gift is the same: focused discovery and reflection via the arts allows us to be a witness to ourselves. To hear and respond creatively to our bodies with our bodies is to reclaim a role in the healing of our bodies.