Finding Strength: Inspiring Young Women to Feel Beautiful
Diagnostics and Procedures It was the day before her 28th birthday and two months before her wedding when Dana Donofree was diagnosed with Infiltrative Ductal Carcinoma.
Following a bilateral mastectomy, reconstructive surgery and a grueling regimen of chemotherapy, Dana knew her life was never going to be the same, but she never expected it to change the way it did. Now her life is dedicated to young survivors and bringing beauty to women with breast cancer.
What have you learned about yourself throughout your battle?
Being diagnosed at age 27 is earth-shattering. I was prepping for my upcoming wedding, and thought I was invincible. When I heard “you have cancer,” everything went blank. I was able to stay courageous and faced my diagnosis head-on. I knew I would get through it, found my inner strength and came out stronger and more aware.
What advice can you provide for loved ones who are faced with this situation?
"Knowing you are surrounded by people who love and care for you and want you to get better makes all the difference."
They are not alone. And don’t have to be alone during the journey. So many people will surface and help, and it's OK. It's OK not to rely only on yourself. It's healing once you let that go. Knowing you are surrounded by people who love and care for you and want you to get better makes all the difference.
What are you actively doing to support the breast cancer survivor community?
After cancer, it was important to me to get involved and be there for other young women. I work with organizations and young survivors whenever I can. I also launched a mastectomy and breast reconstruction lingerie line, AnaOno, which was so empowering. After surgery, I realized I couldn't fit into my clothes. Wearing beautiful lingerie makes me feel strong and confident. I wasn’t going to let cancer take that away from me, too.
What advice do you have for women who are have undergone a mastectomy and are faced with the decision to undergo breast reconstruction?
Having a mastectomy is not a decision to be taken lightly. It not only affects your health and treatment plan, but has long-term effects to consider. With different surgical procedures available, there is a lot of information coming at you quickly. Reaching out and finding a supportive surgeon who will care about your needs and wants in the long and short-term is key. I chose to undergo reconstruction because I wanted to feel as close to normal after breast cancer. Even though they're fake, having breasts help with that—from filling out a dress to feeling feminine again.