#mybodytude: Finding Empowerment and Rediscovering Beauty After Breast Cancer

July 13, 2016

AnaOno Intimates Founder Dana Donofree’s blog post for #mybodytude campaign. Read other posts in the mybodytude photo diary series.

Coping with scars, pain, weight gain or loss, hair loss or thinning, and other side effects of breast cancer treatment can leave you feeling less confident or in control of your body.

Dana Donofree felt this loss of confidence and control after she was diagnosed at age 28. The AnaOno Intimates founder shares this #mybodytude photo diary about the steps she took to feel beautiful and take back control after treatment.

Join Dana and others on Instagram – snap a selfie and use the hashtag #mybodytude for the chance to win a Visa gift card!

Visit LBBC.ORG to learn more about this selfie contest and campaign.

Dana Diary Photo 1

This was before cancer. At age 27, life was endless and time was forever. I was untouchable. Everything as I knew it was great. I was getting married to the man I loved, and I had a rockin’ career. It was all going the way it was supposed to go; the way I’d planned. I was active and taking care of myself (for the most part) because after all, I was prepping for my “Big Day.” I was in the best shape I had been in since high school. I was, for once, happy within my own skin. Looking in the mirror was a proud moment; I worked hard for it! #mybodytude #breastcancer #breastcancerawareness #bodyimage #bodypositivity #ayacsm #bcsm #bodypositive #selfesteem #loveyourself #everydaybeauty #yougotthis

Dana Diary Photo 2 Then my world came crashing down around me. There was about to be a continental divide between what would be “Life Before Cancer” and “Life After Cancer.” How could I have ever been prepared for this derailment and what would be the new road ahead of me? I was 28, about to lose my breasts to cancer and who knows what else. I thought I was lucky to not have much “attachment” to my breasts – I was a booty girl, and so was my fiancé – but that didn’t matter in the end. I wasn’t at all prepared to be stripped bare; to be reduced to nothing but my shell, without anything left to define me or my identity. Instead, I thought “I got this.” I thought I was “OK.” #mybodytude #breastcancer #breastcancerawareness #bodyimage #bodypositivity #ayacsm #bcsm #bodypositive #selfesteem #loveyourself #everydaybeauty #yougotthis

Dana Diary Photo 3

So I took the opportunity to have some fun. My only regret? NOT dyeing my hair bleach blond! I always wanted to be a blond, to see if it was true that they really have more fun. I knew I was having (and have had) my fair share of enjoyment before the darkness. And, I guess the doctor appointments and my cancer schedule left me without being able to add in one more hair appointment. Instead, my bestie chopped off my locks, and we went all Sharon Stone with it. I still loved my look; to me it felt liberating and SEXY! And I thought I rocked it, still totally felt like myself, and cancer wasn’t going to strip me of that. #mybodytude #breastcancer #breastcancerawareness #bodyimage #bodypositivity #ayacsm #bcsm #bodypositive #selfesteem #loveyourself #everydaybeauty #yougotthis

Dana Diary Photo 4

The only thing I wished for during chemo was to drop those stubborn 5 lbs I couldn’t lose while getting ready for my wedding. Looking back that wasn’t exactly the healthiest wish because when I did lose the weight, it plummeted to a sickly number, not a sexy number. (And, then it came back with vengeance and spite piling on more pounds than before cancer). Even though my rock star shaved head look got tons of compliments – though I figured those people had not the slightest clue it was an illness, not a fashion statement - I realized none of this was about my weight or my looks. It was about my survival. #mybodytude #breastcancer #breastcancerawareness #bodyimage #bodypositivity #ayacsm #bcsm #bodypositive #selfesteem #loveyourself #everydaybeauty #yougotthis

Dana Diary Photo 5

But then, after the treatment and the hell, the post-cancer reality set in. Everything was gone. My breasts, my hair, my eyebrows, eyelashes. Nothing left but the shell of what my body and I used to be. I struggled with wearing a wig or drawing on my eyebrows, because there was a part of me that felt like I was lying. I wasn’t telling the world who I was exactly when I covered up my bald head or added on eyebrows. I also felt lost because of how I looked. I didn’t have hair to style, eyelashes to build up with mascara or even clothes to wear. I didn’t know who I was. I mean I knew I was still me, but my personality and identity had so much to do with how I expressed myself through fashion and style. But there was nothing to style and nothing fit. So I tried to figure out who I was again; it was like puberty all over. #mybodytude #breastcancer #breastcancerawareness #bodyimage #bodypositivity #ayacsm #bcsm #bodypositive #selfesteem #loveyourself #everydaybeauty #yougotthis

Dana Diary Photo 6

I did come back around, slowly but surely. I realized the “new” Dana was much like the old “Dana,” but with bigger and badder ideas and a renewed inspiration to enjoy life! I did get married, a year later, and we celebrated in Las Vegas like we were supposed to do before cancer rearranged a year of our lives. And once on the other side, I had fun EVERY second of the way! I came to love my new me. #mybodytude #breastcancer #breastcancerawareness #bodyimage #bodypositivity #ayacsm #bcsm #bodypositive #selfesteem #loveyourself #everydaybeauty #yougotthis

Dana Diary Photo 7 But, my body image and self-esteem about my looks were not bouncing back as quickly. Before, I had no problem looking in the mirror, doing a little twist and checking myself out, but after cancer, I could barely even catch a glimpse. For me, it was the scars. I felt alien. I felt like a broken doll. I had to look at myself every morning, and get dressed every morning and with every morning, I got more and more depressed. Something was missing, I lost control. So I decided to TAKE IT BACK! I decided to take my life and my body image into my own hands. The first way I did was searching for inspiring tattoos that could help me mask my scars, and then I did it. I got a mastectomy tattoo. I made a decision and did something I WANTED to do: something that made me feel beautiful and was of my own choosing. #mybodytude #breastcancer #breastcancerawareness #bodyimage #bodypositivity #ayacsm #bcsm #bodypositive #selfesteem #loveyourself #everydaybeauty #yougotthis
Dana Diary Photo 8 And I realized, if it was going to take me tattooing a “Tree of Life” around my body, in the shape of a demi bra (because none of my own bras fit me any longer), than you know what, I was also going to make that change. And with my ideas, my sewing machine and my determination, I was going to make intimate apparel that also fit my new body. Because covering up my sports bra wasn’t making me feel good about myself either. I made another decision to bring empowerment and beauty back into my life: I launched AnaOno, lingerie for survivors by a survivor. #mybodytude #breastcancer #breastcancerawareness #bodyimage #bodypositivity #ayacsm #bcsm #bodypositive #selfesteem #loveyourself #everydaybeauty #yougotthis
Dana Diary Photo 9 So even though I lost myself, I found her again. A better me. One that had changed and evolved and one I am now proud to call me. Times were dark, and many days I wasn’t sure where I would end up. Now, looking back on my journey five years ago, I am proud, confident and strong. Everything I was before cancer tried to take it away. #mybodytude #breastcancer #breastcancerawareness #bodyimage #bodypositivity #ayacsm #bcsm #bodypositive #selfesteem #loveyourself #everydaybeauty #yougotthis

Share your bodytude after breast cancer on Instagram with #mybodytude! Follow these instructions for the chance to win a gift card for joining the campaign. See what others are posting to #mybodytude on Instagram. Hear more of Dana's story during our free program tomorrow Thursday, July 14, Love, Sex and Relationships: Body Acceptance After Diagnosis.

Dana Donofree was diagnosed with ER-positive, infiltrative ductal carcinoma at 27. She currently lives in Philadelphia with her loving and super supportive husband. They love hiking and biking when the weather allows for it, and dancing and yoga to stay healthy! She fills her days working on AnaOno, a lingerie line for breast cancer survivors, and loves every moment of it!  Follow Dana and get the latest from AnaOno on Instagram: @AnaOnoIntimates.

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