This Lingerie Brand Is Made Specifically For Breast Cancer Patients And Survivors


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1. In an
inspiring New York Fashion Week show on Sunday, 16
breast cancer patients and survivors strutted down
the catwalk in lingerie and loungewear made
specifically for their bodies.

In an inspiring New York Fashion Week show on Sunday, 16 breast cancer patients and survivors strutted down the catwalk in lingerie and loungewear made specifically for their bodies.

View this image ›

Arun Nevader / Via Getty Images for Art Hearts
Fashion

The show featured models living with varying stages
of breast cancer diagnoses, surgery, and
reconstruction choices, as well as surgical
scarring. It was part of the Art
Hearts Fashion show, a philanthropic-minded
runway collective part of NYFW.

Unlike most fashion week shows which are
invitation-only, the show sold select amount of
tickets to the public. All proceeds went to
#Cancerland,
a New York based non-profit that provides support
and services to women battling breast cancer.
Actress and longtime breast cancer advocate Mira
Sorvino hosted the event, which took place at a
cathedral in lower Manhattan.

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2. Many of
the women made NYFW history by walking topless or
taking their bras off right on the runway.

 

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3. They were
modeling for Ana
Ono Intimates, a lingerie and loungewear brand
made specifically for women who’ve had surgeries
related to breast cancer diagnoses — such as
mastectomies, lumpectomies, reconstructions — or
live with other conditions that cause pain or
discomfort.

They were modeling for Ana Ono Intimates, a lingerie and loungewear brand made specifically for women who've had surgeries related to breast cancer diagnoses — such as mastectomies, lumpectomies, reconstructions — or live with other conditions that cause pain or discomfort.

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Arun Nevader / Via Getty

Ana Ono offers bras, panties, robes, and other
loungewear options to meet the specific needs of
women who have been affected by breast cancer.

The unique designs take all shapes and sizes into
account, yet still incorporate the fashionable
trends and styles seen in the traditional lingerie
market.

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4. Ana Ono’s
founder, Dana Donorfree, was inspired to launch the
brand after her own battle with breast cancer at
age 27.

Ana Ono's founder, Dana Donorfree, was inspired to launch the brand after her own battle with breast cancer at age 27.

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Peter Cooper

“I had to remove both my breasts, and decided to
rebuild them, but I wasn’t prepared for how
dramatically my body was going to change,” Donofree
told BuzzFeed Health. Despite having breast
reconstruction surgery, Donofree said she could no
longer fit into traditional lingerie anymore,
especially bras with underwire or molded cups.

“When I left my plastic surgeon, I was told to wear
a sports bra or a tank top and they weren’t wrong —
those are definitely the most comfortable thing to
wear — but I didn’t feel sexy or want to constantly
dress in a way that covered the sports bra straps
just to go to work and meetings,” Donofree said.

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5. “I cried a
lot in lingerie dressing rooms after cancer. Every
time I was handed an armful of matronly, beige
utilitarian bras and left in tears, I promised
myself I would never let it happen to another woman
again,” Donofree said.

"I cried a lot in lingerie dressing rooms after cancer. Every time I was handed an armful of matronly, beige utilitarian bras and left in tears, I promised myself I would never let it happen to another woman again," Donofree said.

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Women recovering from breast cancer surgeries are
often limited when searching for bras because of
the way their breast shape has changed and the fact
that comfort is more of a necessity than a
preference. Donofree, a fashion and design graduate
from Savannah College Art and Design who worked for
a few high-end labels before battling cancer,
decided to take matters into her own hands.

“If I could have sexy intimates before cancer, I
was going to have them after.”

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6. So she
began designing bras, using real survivors to test
different styles and fits — such as wire-free
designs, hidden seams, gentle materials, and
special cuts to avoid pain points.

 

“I do not launch a style without testing it on
women who’ve had everything from mastectomies and
lumpectomies to breast reconstruction surgery and
prosthetic breast forms,” Donofree said. In
addition to bras, Donofree also began designing
underwear and also loungewear like robes and
nightgowns with the woman’s needs in mind.

When she releases a new product, Donofree says
she knows exactly which bodies and breast shapes
it will fit so she can include this information
with the bra, which helps “take the guessing and
fear out of bra shopping for survivors.” The
products are made to fit women during various
stages of cancer from surgery, radiation,
recovery and beyond.

Ana Ono also only uses women who have had breast
cancer to model the products on the website.”It’s
important for women on the other side of the
screen to see the bra on a woman she can relate
to,” Donofree said.

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7. Ana Ono is
the first mainstream lingerie brand to offer
products with both a practical construction and a
fashionable, sexy design, Donofree said, allowing
women to “feel comfortable and beautiful no matter
their diagnosis.”

 

“The traditional lingerie market expects you to
have two breasts — but you can have one breast,
two breasts, or no breasts and we have an option
for you,” Donofree said.

It turns out, Donofree was wrong about never
letting another survivor leave a dressing room
crying. “This one woman whose body was ravaged
with radiation and scarring put on Ana Ono and
just looked at me with glassy eyes and told me it
was the most comfortable and sexy thing she had
put on her body since she was diagnosed.”

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8. Like this
bra, which has deep-cut arm holes to accommodate
painful incision scars, pockets for removable
prosthetics in women with one breast, and a
plunging neckline so it’s can still be worn under
fashionable tops and dresses.

 

According to the website, this bra fits women
who’ve had any of the following: lumpectomy,
mastectomy, breast reconstruction, augmentation,
lift, reduction or no reconstruction or surgery
at all.

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9. Or this
robe worn in the show by Paige More, who had a
double mastectomy five weeks ago. “It has special
hooks to hold my drainage tubes in place so they
don’t snag, but it also completely hides everything
and looks cute,” Paige told BuzzFeed Health.

 

More, a 25-year-old producer living in New York
City, is considered a ‘pre-survivor,’ because she
had not yet developed breast cancer but had a
strong predisposition to the disease. “I tested
positive for
[a BRCA1 genetic mutation, so I decided to be
proactive and had a preventative double
mastectomy,” More said.

In the show, More modeled the same design she
wore after her surgery: the
Miena robe. It features a detachable belt and
hooks inside to hold surgical drains that carry
excess blood and fluid from the breast area after
a mastectomy.

“It made me feel sexy after my breasts were
removed and I never, ever thought I would say I
felt sexy after that experience — the robe was
life-changing,” More said.
The robe was so
important to More that she said she decided to
call Ana Ono and say thank you, which is when
spoke to Donofree, who asked her to model in the
show.

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10. “It’s
amazing to model for Ana Ono in New York Fashion
Week — walking in lingerie, topless, allows me to
reclaim this space and celebrate my sexuality as a
survivor,” Ericka
Hart, queer sexuality educator and model
(pictured below), told BuzzFeed Health.

 

Hart, who went out topless for the first time
during the Afropunk festival last August, said
her involvement in the show was important both as
a survivor and a black individual who identifies
as queer. “Not only do I get to wear this
lingerie made for survivors, by survivors, but I
get to go up there in public and celebrate the
fact that I’m a black queer femme that lives with
a chronic illness,” Hart said.

“This illness is not morbidity — just because our
breasts are gone it doesn’t mean our lives are
over, we get to celebrate our lives and our sex
lives and that’s what this show is about,” Hart
says.

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11. “It’s not
just a bra,” Champagne Joy, #Cancerland founder and
breast cancer survivor, told BuzzFeed Health. “When
you lose your breasts and put on something that
makes you feel like a million bucks, that’s not a
bra — it’s magic.”

"It's not just a bra," Champagne Joy, #Cancerland founder and breast cancer survivor, told BuzzFeed Health. "When you lose your breasts and put on something that makes you feel like a million bucks, that's not a bra — it's magic."

View this image ›

Arun Nevader / Via Getty

“Just like the services we provide to women at
Cancerland, Ana Ono lingerie allows you to be a
woman in real-time, with a real life, while also
battling this disease,” said Joy.

Many women recovering from breast surgeries feel
alone, Joy said, and struggle with body image and
self-confidence issues. However, Ana Ono has
created a community of powerful women redefining
what it means to be a breast cancer survivor.

“The least interesting thing about the women
wearing Ana Ono is that they have cancer,” Joy
said.

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12. “Ana
Ono’s mission isn’t just to provide beautiful,
quality products to women — we want to create a
space for survivors to connect and share their
stories, because no woman fighting this disease
should feel alone,” Donofree said.

"Ana Ono's mission isn't just to provide beautiful, quality products to women — we want to create a space for survivors to connect and share their stories, because no woman fighting this disease should feel alone," Donofree said.

View this image ›

Arun Nevader / Via Getty

“As a designer, taking part in NYFW is amazing but
it isn’t about me — it’s about the women who will
take the runway and the women who can’t take the
runway because they are no longer with us due to
this disease,” Donofree said.

Nearly half of the women who modeled in this show
have breast cancer that is considered metastatic,
says Donofree, which means it has spread to other
parts of the body.

“It’s so powerful because they’re getting up there
and showing that life does go on, and we need to be
proud of ourselves and empower each other,”
Donofree said.

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