Inside Out

Tomorrow marks my first day back at my regular day job after nine weeks off work. There is a vulnerable and tentative part of me that feels I may be jumping the gun by heading back so soon. The part of me I want to flourish – my brave and healthy self – is urging me to put on my big girl panties and forge ahead. For the sake of balance, I’m trying to listen to both of these voices.

It’s taken me a bit longer to heal because I’d had previous radiation on each of my breasts. As a result, I still have a dime sized hole on my upper right chest that has taken its time to cooperate and heal. Because I have not healed sufficiently, although I had a fitting last week, I cannot wear my breast forms yet, so going back to work before I’ve been able to complete this transformation is adding somewhat to my angst.

Today, I frantically dug through my closet to find the padded cotton forms that came with my wonderful Amoena camisoles, because I know that at the very least, these will provide me with the ability to have a silhouette.

Over the past few weeks I’ve discovered that clothes I previously wore don’t necessarily work for me right now. For the most part, this is a temporary problem, but when contemplating my return to work, it feels a bit more significant. Frankly, I’d be happy just wearing a tee shirt or camisole without adding any embellishments. My desire for disguise is more for the comfort of my co-workers. Let’s just say, the old “look at my eyes” has taken on a completely new meaning for sure!

One of the quips I’ve heard repeatedly whenever I find myself in a doctor/patient situation is “Remember, you heal from the inside out.” Last week I told my doctor my insides must be really far removed from my outsides (no surprises there, I fear!)

What I’m noticing is there is as much emotional healing (perhaps more) than physical. I’ve been blessed over the years to have interviewed hundreds of women who have either dealt with breast cancer, work as fitters or in the healthcare community, so at least the possible ups and downs haven’t been a complete surprise. However, I don’t think there is any amount of knowledge to absolutely prepare anyone for how she will feel after losing her breast(s).

Now, more than two months post-surgery, I’m still not sure I’ve managed to deal with the reality of my situation. So far, I don’t feel like any less of a woman, but I most certainly feel violated, and how could I not?

I remember distinctly listening to women share their stories about mastectomy, fittings, possible reconstruction, etc., etc. and feeling amazed and perplexed that we don’t have less invasive and life shattering/altering choices.

The only thing that’s changed is now I’m no longer on the outside looking in.

Posted in Breast Cancer Recovery, Breast Cancer Survivors, Breast Surgeries, Lifestyle, My Story, Positive Thinking | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Amoena Introduces Spring 2015 Fashion Textiles

Women want more supportive choices all day

KENNESAW, GA (July, 2014) – Amoena, the world’s leading breast care brand, has long sought to help breast cancer survivors achieve their desire to look and feel beautiful – and has succeeded. In early June, Amoena introduced its Spring 2015 offerings for retail pre-sales which continue through this month.

ss15 amoena textiles preview

“We’re taking pocketed fashion to the next level with this bold and highly visual collection,” says Marcie Peters, president and general manager for the Americas. Building on the company’s recent expansion into ready-to-wear garments with the pocketed shelf bra built right in, Spring 2015’s portfolio gives women supportive clothing for all day long and every activity – including workouts and swimwear. Whether she needs a breast form or not, the clever use of cohesive color and pattern makes merchandising easy and will entice customers of all types.

Everyday lingerie: Patterned neutrals and pops of bright color freshen the selections for Everyday. These are the bras that women rely on, and they’re no longer “your grandmother’s mastectomy bras.”

Seduction lingerie: Answering the regular request of women for something sexy, spring’s modern embroidery makes a serious statement with see-through mesh in boudoir hues, or for a softer look, pastel sets evoke fairytale romance.

Active: The collection’s expanded offering introduces two support levels, Light or Medium. And with built-in pocketed shelf bras in every top the breast cancer survivor has more choices than ever before – including tanks, racerbacks and t-shirts – and matching capris.

Home: Amoena nightdresses and pajamas have quickly become a fan favorite, and are made of buttery soft Modal. Every top includes built-in shelf bras, which provide that important symmetrical element when sleeping or lounging.

Leisure: On-trend, loose-fitting tops and pants in soft mélange support women during simple everyday activities.

Swimwear: Plenty of tankinis and bikinis to choose from – which women desire every season. Performance fabrics in the swim collection – Xtra Life Lycra, Sensitive® by Eurojersey, and Darwin – ensure these suits are not only pretty, they also hold up.

Pre-selling is actively taking place now. To see the collections and secure your pre-order, contact your Amoena Account Manager or call 1-800-926-6362.

Don’t miss the exclusive consumer preview on Amoena’s main website, for more photos and information.

Media inquiries, please visit our Press Room.

Posted in Active wear, Amoena Press Releases, Amoena Textiles, Fashion, Intimate Apparel, Mastectomy Products, Swimwear | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Affirmative Actions

Even when you’ve been given a new lease on life it is sometimes difficult to remember to appreciate this gift. As I continue to heal both physically and emotionally from my recent double mastectomy, I’ve noticed some days are definitely easier than others.

I’ve also noticed that having a positive attitude makes such a huge difference in the way my day unfolds. This makes it all the more puzzling when I’m in the midst of feeling sorry for myself, because I know my negative thoughts do nothing to help me cope.

With this third diagnosis has come a deepened sense of urgency in terms of making sure I’m living the life I really want to live. And sometimes even these feelings can create a sense of depression since it isn’t always easy to know you want/need to make changes and actually have the ability to make them happen as quickly as you would like.

As a result, I’m working daily on not being so hard on myself. I realize my body is still healing. I hadn’t realized the necessity of actually giving myself time to heal before I begin seriously attempting significant change.

During this process, I’ve had several “aha” moments. Some have involved introductions. A longtime friend wanted me to meet her new tenant. While I trust her judgment, I was baffled about the timing. The three of us met for lunch recently, and I was thrilled to learn this woman has actually co-produced a play. Since I’ve been intrigued by the idea of writing a play, I made a mental note to be open to meeting new people as both a way to get out of my funk and to perhaps learn how to realize a dream.

Another friend posted pictures from a recent one-woman play she saw during the Hollywood Fringe Festival. The play was called The Mermaid Who Learned How to Fly. While I have to admit, I wasn’t able to catch the play, what I did catch was the desire to start believing in myself again. Not only that, but in reading about the play, I learned about the Fringe Festival – which provides a venue for struggling artists to get their work seen.

In the midst of all this introspection and exploration, I stumbled across a great little video clip that has been making the rounds on Facebook lately:

Although the little girl in the video is now a teenager, her childhood affirmations came to me at exactly the right moment. I needed to remember how it feels to be innocent and have your whole life ahead of you. As a child, I used to do a lot of this same sort of posturing in front of our living room mirror (generally when my family was away so I didn’t have to hear my siblings comment on their crazy sister)!

Since watching the video, I’ve reminded myself daily to find something to be thankful for. It really isn’t difficult – you just have to wake up in the morning and say “thank you”! I have refrained from standing on the bathroom counter to conduct my affirmations because at my age, I’m pretty sure I’d bump my head on the ceiling, but if I’m having a particularly grumpy day – I just may find out!

Posted in Breast Cancer Recovery, Mental Health, Positive Thinking | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Video: Amoena Breast Care Products

We’re excited to share this new video with you. It talks about the needs of a woman who’s had breast surgery — from just after her surgery through the time when she finds her “new normal.” It’s so important that this information is shared. Will you help us get the word out?

Amoena breast care products are discussed by a doctor, an RN and Amoena fitter, and a breast cancer survivor. Beautiful lingerie, silicone breast forms, swimwear, active wear and recovery care camisoles can help a woman feel more like herself after breast surgery.

Posted in Active wear, Amoena Fashion, Amoena Textiles, Bra Fittings, Breast Cancer Recovery, Breast Cancer Survivors, Breast Forms, Intimate Apparel, Mastectomy Products, Swimwear | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Kindness of Strangers

Something magical happened during my recent hospital stay that I feel compelled to share. Perhaps what makes it all the more moving, at least for me, is the realization that the people who made such a difference for me spend each and every work day taking care of individuals they’ve never met before – and will probably never see again.

nurse in pink scrubsI’m talking about the nurses and student nurses who tend to the needs of people after they have had surgery. I am such a chatterbox, I’d be surprised if I wasn’t talking throughout my entire procedure! What I do know is the moment I had sufficiently shed the remains of my anesthesia, I was yearning for ways to take my mind off of the fact I’d just spent over six hours undergoing a bilateral mastectomy. And, I was so relieved nothing had gone wrong, I just wanted to reinforce the fact that life is good. Had I been able to do so, I would have jumped out of bed and kissed the ground. Thank goodness I didn’t have the strength, because I’m certain this sort of behavior would have caused them to move me to the psych ward rather than recovery.

Although I was only confined to the hospital for a bit over 24 hours, the kindness I experienced at the hands of others will last a lifetime.

If the time and opportunity presented themselves, I would ask anyone tending to me how they had decided they wanted to be a nurse. I have always been intrigued by this sort of dedication (and the ability not to panic when someone is bleeding or otherwise in distress). As a young girl I had thought I might want to be a nurse. I thought that right up to the moment I realized exactly what a nurse has to do.

There was the young man from Canada who told me he began his career as a paramedic, but quickly decided he wanted the opportunity to do more. He hailed from the prairies of Saskatchewan, so we both got a chuckle when I kiddingly said, “When you say do more, do you mean do more surfing?”

Another caregiver talked about how she decided a nursing career would provide her the ability to do good while allowing the time and financial security to raise her family.

And then there was Yumi. This amazing young woman made sure to check on me frequently, doing everything possible to make me feel as comfortable and normal as she could. When you are in the hospital, normal is a highly sought commodity.

Yumi is from South Korea and told me she had originally pursued a career as an accountant, but quickly discovered her language skills limited her ability to communicate successfully. I might add, she was sharing this information as she helped tend to my drains, freshen my bed, and assist me as I shuffled to the bathroom.

By the time I was ready to be released, Yumi and I were fast friends. She is a student nurse and will graduate in October of this year. I told her I hoped she would invite me to her graduation ceremony. We talked about Korean BBQ (she told me I had to go to Los Angeles if I wanted to find anything authentic). We talked about South Korea (she said she never realized how the rest of the world feels about Korea until she moved to the United States). She also shared that she had never felt threatened or afraid of North Korea while she was still living at home. I shared how foolish I sometimes feel because I know so little about so much of the rest of the world.

When I was finally released, Yumi not only made sure I was well stocked with gauze, adhesive tape and alcohol swabs – she walked with me to the hospital lobby’s exit. We hugged goodbye and I reminded her I wanted an invite in October.

Last night, exactly two weeks since I got home from the hospital, as I was preparing to go to bed, I noticed I had a text message from a number I didn’t recognize. This is what it said: Hi, Dianne! Do you remember me? It’s Yumi, nursing student from SBCC. I assume you are free from those drains by now. I just wanted to see how you are doing.

Dear Yumi – I’m doing much better now! And I can tell you without reservation – in my case, your communication skills rock!

Posted in Breast Cancer Recovery, Breast Cancer Treatment, Breast Surgeries, Giving Back, Positive Thinking, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Before and After

makeup and makeup brushesWhen reading recently about the three amazing young women who have been chosen as Amoena’s Ambassadors, I was particularly moved by the news they will each receive a make-over as part of the experience. After the ordeals of dealing with breast cancer, who wouldn’t love a bit of pampering and preening to help with the healing process? Personally, I’ve never experienced a professional make-over, but as a breast cancer survivor I think I’ve made myself over several times as I’ve traveled the path away from the fear and uncertainty a diagnosis so often brings with it.

With my initial diagnosis back in 1996 as a breast cancer newbie, I remember having moments where I wondered if my life would ever be the same. Actually, at that time I worried more about whether I would live, because back then the Internet was still in its infancy so very few women were sharing their stories beyond their own circle of friends. To me, because no one was talking about it, I feared breast cancer was a death sentence.

Most women weren’t sharing their stories at all because there was still such a stigma attached to discussing a woman’s breasts. I distinctly recall making the decision to try to move the conversation about breast cancer forward, so in a way, I made myself over just a bit. I changed from being a woman who held her tongue and shied away from confrontation to a breast cancer “warrior”. I refused to allow someone to silence me or to make me feel as though discussing my breasts was in any way unacceptable. Women were dying, for God’s sake, so my feeling was, get over it!

Then when I was diagnosed again in 2005, after my initial disbelief, I once again spent  time wondering if I could survive breast cancer twice. Thankfully, I had interviewed many women who had either had recurrences or second primary cancers, so I knew it wasn’t necessarily a death sentence. By this time, the Internet was allowing women to share stories and outcomes, so I decided rather than dwell on the disease, I would continue to find ways to make myself over and use my experiences to become stronger and more in touch with how women’s health issues had somehow managed to be put on a back burner for so many years.

And now, nearly 20 years after breast cancer became a part of my life, I’m preparing myself for yet another make-over, one countless women have endured with grace and dignity. Because so many of you have shared your stories over the years, I am not afraid of losing my breasts; in fact, I am actually feeling relieved that perhaps I will be able to put the worry about this disease behind me and focus on finding ways to help other women.

I can’t wait to see the results of Ginger, Eden and Carletta’s physical make-overs, because when I saw their beautiful faces I wondered how such perfection could be improved. I think many of us don’t fully appreciate our true beauty until we are faced with something that shakes us to our very core. And one of the things I love so much about women is their ability to get up and start over again. Way before the make-up, new clothes and hairstyles, Ginger, Eden and Carletta had already started the process of making themselves over – or they wouldn’t have been chosen in the first place.

Just think of the lives these three Amoena Ambassadors will touch!

Posted in Breast Cancer Advocacy, Breast Cancer Recovery, Breast Cancer Survivors, Contests, Early Detection, Fashion, Inspiration, Lifestyle, My Story, New You | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

It’s Not The Same Old, Same Old!

I happened upon an article about America’s perception of aging in the current issue of the AARP magazine, that I found really eye opening. Before I share some of their fascinating findings, just let me say, I had to be led kicking and screaming to anything even close to AARP.

They started sending me membership announcements when I was still a spring chicken (I always wondered which of my friends thought this would be funny) – so there is a part of me that has been actively avoiding even acknowledging their existence, much less listening to what they have to say.

As I am aging, and I might add happily so, I’ve been astounded by the misconceptions and preconceived notions I had about the process. And as anyone who has been called ma’am by the checkout clerk, the police officer, or the good looking guy at the bar can attest, we start to be perceived as old when we are still relatively young.

What I found intriguing about the article was how our perception of age differs not only depending on our age, but our gender and ethnicity. The 1,800 people who were polled struck down some previously held stereotypical concepts, in addition to painting a much rosier picture of their attitudes about growing older. The respondents ranged in age from 40 to 90 with a whopping 85% saying they were not old yet. In fact, one 90-year old woman said she wouldn’t be old until she hit 95. You go girl!!

When asked at what age is a person old, people in their 40s said it was the age 63. People in their 50s think you are old if you are 68. The individuals who are in their 60s definitely don’t think you’ve jumped the shark until you reach 73, while folks in their 70s think 75 sort of marks the final frontier.

Both men and women agree that a man is old when he hits 70. Those same people were split when it comes to their opinion of when a woman is old. Men think a woman is past her prime when she blows out 68 candles on her birthday cake. Women (oh, we are so wise) think we are still young until we reach age 75.

It’s also surprising that as we age our perception of the problems associated with aging diminishes rather than flourishes. The answers to the following questions have some surprising results:

Problems with my physical health do not hold me back from doing what I want
58% of 40-year-olds agreed with this statement. 63% of 50-somethings agreed. And, are you ready?
69% of 60- and 70-year-olds hold this belief.

Growing older has been easier than I thought
39% of those 40-year-old youngsters agree, while 48% of the 50-year-olds concurred. By the time they’ve reached 60, 59% felt this to be true, and 55% of 70-year-olds think it’s less burdensome.

I have more energy now than I expected for my age
Only 24% of 40-year-olds are buying into this, but by the time they reach their 50s, 47% agree. And it just gets better from there. 54% of people in their 60s feel more energized than they’d anticipated, and 64% of 70-year-olds are jumping for joy.

The younger we are, the more respect we think the elderly deserve, which may be attributable to the fact that as we age we realize respect is earned, not just a right of passage.

African Americans not only are more likely to feel there are many pleasant things about growing older, but they are also more inclined to feel their life has made a difference. They are also less likely to feel that old age is a time of loneliness than their Hispanic, Caucasian or Asian American counterparts.

And finally, our optimism about sex stays fairly consistent regardless of age, although men of all ages seem to think they will continue to enjoy it to a higher degree than women. Of those polled, 71% of men and 51% of women said they believe age has nothing to do with enthusiasm.

I will leave you with a quote from Whoopi Goldberg (who happens to be 58) that appeared in the article:

“There’s only one alternative to getting older, so suck it up.”

Posted in Breast Cancer Survivors, Healthy Living, Humor, In the News, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Meet Amoena Ambassador Ginger Johnson

We love these ladies! Here’s the third Amoena Ambassador (alphabetically speaking): Ginger Johnson, 38, from Layton, Utah.

amoena ambassador Ginger JohnsonAmoena: What was your first reaction when you knew you were a finalist?
Ginger: I was really excited and happy!

Amoena: Who supports you the most?
Ginger: God, my husband, my children – in that order. God has always been there for me to give me strength and wisdom when I felt alone and my husband, Travis, has always had my back, even when I lost my front (wink). We’ve been married for 15 years in May and I can honestly say that getting married to him was the best decision of my life. At the risk of sounding corny – he completes me. LOL. We’ve been through so much together and even with our disagreements and days when I’m frustrated beyond belief, I still know that together we can achieve so much more than if we were apart.

Amoena: Just for fun, what’s your favorite meal?
Ginger: That’s a hard one. I like a variety of foods from all over the world – but I guess my favorite meal would be my husband’s homemade chicken enchiladas. YUM. They make my mouth water.

Amoena: How about your favorite TV show?
Ginger: I don’t watch much TV because of my schedule but I do like to watch Jimmy Fallon at night when I get the chance. I think the way he’s combined the late night talk show format with short skits that remind me of the old Saturday Night Live is absolutely genius – and fun to watch.

Amoena: The most recent book you read?
Ginger: The last book I read was Insurgent – the 2nd book in the Divergent series. I read it in about 5 hours one Saturday (525 pages) when I needed a break. Sometimes it’s good to just let your mind escape from a busy schedule and I tend to get lost in books that relate to human behavior and personalities. The book before that was Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain. Again, a book on human behavior. I love learning about what makes people tick, why we think the way we do and how to best honor people in their uniqueness – because I truly believe that everyone has a divine birthright of being awesome.

Amoena: What do you do to relax?
Ginger: Read, go on a walk, sleep and get outside in nature. I love to backpack with my family and we’ve been on several backpacking trips over the years. Last year we hiked 17 miles in The Narrows in Zion National Park and 15 miles in Coyote Gulch in central Utah.  Backpacking may not sound very relaxing – but when you get away from the noise of the world and have time to just be in nature without cell phones, computers, etc – it can be very relaxing.

Amoena: What do you most look forward to about working with us?
Ginger: I’ve wanted to work with the Amoena team for a long time because I feel that the corporation and brand is truly focused on improving women’s lives and that is a focus of mine as well.

Posted in Contests, In the News, My Story, Young Survivors | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Meet Amoena Ambassador Eden Lackey

It’s so fun to get to know the new Amoena Ambassadors! This is Eden Lackey, 36, from Austin, Texas.

amoena ambassador eden lackeyAmoena: What was your first reaction when you knew you were a finalist?
Eden: I was incredibly excited I was chosen for this opportunity. At the same time it was humbling. As I know I am representing a community of women that are fighting to survive.

Amoena: Who supports you the most?
Eden: My biggest supporters, let me count the ways! I am so very blessed with an amazing support system. But my mom and my little brother if I had to choose.

Amoena: Just for fun, what’s your favorite meal?
Eden: My favorite meal at this very moment is rice and curry. But that can change at any moment!

Amoena: How about your favorite TV show?
Eden: My favorite TV show is Ellen. She is my idol! When I was sick that was one hour out of my day I could put a smile on my face and take the focus off my pain and sickness.

Amoena: What’s the most recent book you read?
Eden: The most recent book I read is a fantasy fiction called Graceling. It is about a strong woman navigating a very challenging and male dominated environment, finding love along the way.

Amoena: What do you do to relax?
Eden: My favorite way to relax, when my body allows, is playing the guitar and yoga. I am terrible at both, but they are so very therapeutic for me. Oh and music! Music feeds the soul!

Amoena: What do you most look forward to about working with us?
Eden: Ever since I was diagnosed with cancer I have wanted nothing more than to help others by showing them what strength and perseverance looks like. I have felt a huge drive and passion for making it my life’s mission to uplift and inspire women. This opportunity will help me do that.

Posted in Contests, In the News, My Story, Young Survivors | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Meet Amoena Ambassador Carletta Cunningham

Let’s get to know our — yourAmoena Ambassadors. Going in alphabetical order, we’ll start with Carletta, age 42, from Austell, Georgia.

amoena ambassador carletta cunninghamAmoena: What was your first reaction when you knew you were a finalist?
Carletta: I was extremely excited to have an opportunity to speak with Malissa. When I got the news that I’d been named one of the winners, I was driving in my car.  I was at a stoplight and very exuberantly displayed my joy in the car. I was tickled PINK (no pun intended) to learn that I’d been named one of the winners.

Amoena: Who supports you the most?
Carletta: My mother is my biggest fan and supporter. In addition to my mom, I’ve been extremely blessed and fortunate to have a strong support system that extends to and beyond family and friends to virtual friends with whom I’ve bonded through social media. I have an incredible support system that has always encouraged me to find an inner strength. Metaphorically, they’ve held me up on many a day when I felt less inclined than ever to stand. I’m so incredibly grateful for my family. It’s undeniable that my support system has been and continues to be a lifeline.

Amoena: Just for fun, what’s your favorite meal?
Carletta: Prior to my diagnosis, I would have answered ‘Mexican.’ Since completion of chemotherapy, I have been seeking to improve my diet in many ways. I still love Mexican food and would find it challenging to turn down a quesadilla (lol). However, I realize a better choice would include good protein and veggies like salmon and spinach or a roasted veggie sandwich.

Amoena: How about your favorite TV show?
Carletta: Admittedly, I’m a bit of a TV junkie. I probably have a favorite or two in every genre. If I had to choose one overall favorite from current shows, it would be a tie between Scandal and Modern Family. I could very easily name at least ten shows that I watch regularly enough to record them in an effort to not miss an episode.

Amoena: What’s the most recent book you read?
Carletta: Waking the Warrior Goddess by Dr. Christine Horner

Amoena: What do you do to relax?
Carletta: I pray to relax. The quiet time with God helps me to rejuvenate and restore my faith. I also enjoy playing tennis. There is nothing quite like a fun, healthy dose of competition to help me relax. Swimming is new for me. But, it’s really therapeutic and relaxing as well.

Amoena: What do you most look forward to about working with us?
Carletta: Being named an Amoena ambassador provides another platform from which to build and raise awareness. I take pride in the title SURVIVOR and will never take it lightly or for granted. Over the past six months, I’ve been deliberate about capturing my journey in pictures, especially during chemo. It was a time to show my vulnerability but also my strength. I know the photo shoot will be especially fun for me. I’m looking forward to meeting everyone. Of course, I’m going to relate, relax and release during the spa day activities. I guess it boils down to this – I am looking forward to it all – the entire experience! I’m very grateful for this opportunity.

Posted in Contests, In the News, My Story, Young Survivors | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment