Often, it takes someone who has a need to fill one. Dana Donofree tried to find bras to wear during and after her breast cancer treatment. When she couldn’t find what she was looking for, she created AnaOno, a company made for women with breast cancer by women with breast cancer. Soma is proud to offer AnaOno bras after breast cancer online and in select boutiques.
“I founded AnaOno after I was diagnosed with ductal carcinoma at the age of 27,” Dana says. “I began to design the first pieces out of my own necessity and desire for pretty, sexy, beautiful lingerie during a recovery period that was everything but. I made it my mission to design specifically for those who’ve had breast reconstruction, breast surgery, mastectomy, or are living with other conditions that cause pain or discomfort because I believe that comfort should not be a compromise.”
We are so moved by your story. Tell us about your experience and when you knew you would make these beautiful products.
Battling cancer is something you are never prepared for, all the side effects, relationships, work, your new body. But even with all of that, I never expected my underwear drawer was going to be a problem. It was after I searched and searched, cried in dressing rooms, and even gave up wearing bras all together that the idea struck me that it wasn’t “me,” it was the bra. That is when I knew that I could take my design background and experience, apply all the difficulties and challenges I had fitting into a traditional bra, and make one better. I would create not only beautiful, but comfortable bras for women after breast surgery.
What inspires you?
At the launch of AnaOno, I was inspired by my own journey and my own hardships. That was eight and a half years ago. Today, I am inspired by all the amazing and inspirational people I meet. Other women like myself, whose lives have been changed because of cancer, or a body-altering surgery. They are my inspiration. The stories, when you listen, are powerful, strong, and encouraging, I use this energy to fuel my dream every day.
Are all of your models survivors?
All our AnaOno models have been affected by breast cancer — some have been diagnosed with early to late stage cancer, while others have decided to take their breast health into their own hands and undergo a preventive mastectomy. A beautiful professional model can wear just about everything. That isn’t the case for someone who has undergone breast surgery. There are additional limitations to fit, sizing, and shape.
How has Living Beyond Breast Cancer inspired you?
Living Beyond Breast Cancer has been instrumental in my continued healing since my diagnosis. With their trusted information, I am able to go directly to LBBC.org in order to get the most up-to-date information in ways I can understand it. Breast cancer research is progressing quickly, and it is important to know your options as you are diagnosed, recovering, and even into life beyond. You are always your best and biggest advocate, being informed is a piece of that. Not to mention the incredible people I have met while being involved with the organization, another young woman newly diagnosed who needs somewhere to turn, or someone who has been metastatic for 20 years. These people affected by breast cancer provide hope and encouragement to me every single day.
How has your life changed since recovering?
Life has changed after recovery. Every day, every moment, is a new one. You never know what to expect from day to day, doctor to doctor, so I have learned to love life, live life, and cherish every moment. I wasn’t like that before cancer. I learn every day to slow down, breathe, and if you will, smell the roses. This has been life-changing.
What is your advice to someone who has been impacted by breast cancer?
My advice to someone who has been diagnosed with breast cancer is take it one day at a time. It may be tough, but so are you. Also, take the help when someone offers. It may be tough at first, but the people who care about you want to help you. Even if it is something small. Maybe make a list of things you think you may need: a house cleaning, food for the kids, or maybe just a ride to the park and good conversation. Use this list to help you and give your caregivers something to navigate. And don’t forget. You are YOU. Cancer will not take that away. This may be the toughest thing you have done or will do in your entire life; don’t be too hard on yourself. Each phase, each up and down, will teach you something about yourself.
Learn more about Soma’s partnership with LBBC.