Mission: Strength — Announcing our winners!

It gives us great pleasure to introduce our winners for the Amoena Mission Strength essay contest!

Ginger Johnson

Ginger Johnson

Carletta-Cunningham_large

Carletta Cunningham

Eden-Lackey_large

Eden Lackey

Congratulations to Ginger, Carletta and Eden!

We received more than 70 entries for this competition, and every single one moved us. Thank you for your participation and support of our contest! We know you must have shared the news and encouraged your friends to sign up, and we are very grateful. We have been introduced to a lot of new faces who are out there, making a difference in their local communities and the wider breast cancer survivorship circle.

Our interviews with the finalists revealed  women who are:

  • lobbying for laws to change
  • writing books about their experiences
  • returning to school to become nurses, teachers, advocates
  • running non-profits and new businesses
  • treasuring the small but important moments with family and friends
  • blogging about it
  • running, climbing, walking, cycling, tri-athleting, kayaking, and staying healthy
  • proudly telling their tales in support groups

All of them have made the courageous decision to use their breast cancer journeys to help other women.

This is strength. This is beautiful.

Congratulations and best wishes to every participant. You will be hearing from us! We are honored to know your stories and we can’t wait to share more about our new Amoena Ambassadors — and to honor the Young Survival Coalition, as well! Stay tuned!

Posted in Contests, Giving Back, In the News, Lifestyle, My Story, Uncategorized, Young Survivors | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Club Amoena 2013 Embrace Every Curve Essay Contest Winner

Amoena Life magazine conducted its fourth Club Amoena essay contest last summer and contacted the winner in October, 2013. Meet Marilyn Wattman-Feldman, 61, a longtime reader and a courageous survivor of metastatic breast cancer who has learned a lot over the years about life’s winding road. Here, she shares how she travels it with grace.

Club Amoena essay winner Marilyn Wattman-FeldmanEvery road traveled in life has a curve. In one instance, it can be a treacherous road that needs to be navigated in order to reach a new destination. Or, it can be the image of a woman staring at herself in a mirror seeing the reflection of a body that has changed, perhaps beyond recognition. Life hands us “curve balls.”

The journey from normal to a “new” normal has many such curves. What starts as a simply day can end with a horrific nightmare. Initially, hearing that I had breast cancer did not necessarily scare me since I was a daughter of a long-time survivor. But when the cancer changed direction, metastasizing to both the lungs and eventually the bones — that curve turned into a dark, terrifying path. The ability for me to see beyond that point was, at best, difficult. I would find myself on a roller coaster/merry-go-round (two rides I despise) for way too many years. Those long hours of living in chronic pain, both physical and emotional, have left their marks. Attempting to find a way out — learning to embrace a new curve, took on new meaning.

There are many words that can be shared — words meant to heal and make one feel better. I heard them all.  Day after day. Week after week. Month after month. Friends and family told me “You will get better.” “You will survive.” I needed to find my own words, something I could embrace, and thus I began to say, “Everyday in every way I am getting better and stronger.”

I posted these words on my computer screen with a sticky note. I posted the words on books I read, on the tables nearby my hospital chair where I went for chemo. Everywhere I went I saw those words and they became my personal mantra. At first, they were just words I said. I felt awful. I lived in pain 24/7. While I never completely lost my hair during chemotherapy, I did get a horrific burn from radiation. I still recall the day I ripped off my bra and threw it away. The pain of wearing anything on my breast was too much. The “curve” I was on was a dead-end.

The transformation from being in that deep, dark scary place took time. To be honest, it took years. For years I lived a totally different life — I looked different. I weighed in at 186 pounds, definitely “weird” from someone who spent 99 percent of her life underweight. I used lots and lots of “drugs” — most for pain management. I discovered that there is pain beyond the standard scale of 1 – 10. When I broke my right femur (2005) and left femur (2008) the pain scale was at 100, both times. Finding a way out of this scenario — that was logical, safe, and normal — would certainly require major intervention. This came in the way of writing. I had to return to something I enjoyed. Something that brought out a passion in me. While in the deepest of depression, I stopped writing. I could not even put two words together to form a sentence. But, when I re-discovered my interest in writing, life changed. I found a new “avenue” that worked for me.

First, it was a play titled “Chemonologues” that took me two years to write and was presented as a play reading. This reinforced my self-image, allowing me to “change the curve” in my life. I also discovered a new passion. I began exercising. Water fitness, Silver Sneakers, tai chi… eventually, I moved on to Zumba and basic spinning. That 186-pound woman I did not recognize — she lost 50 pounds in one year. And now, I have discovered a new me.

The body I saw in the mirror was still misshaped; I had curves where they didn’t even belong. The mosaic of my total self was and still is a major work in progress. However, I am finally able to “embrace every cure” that comes my way. And seriously, it feels great!

Posted in Amoena Life magazine, Contests, My Story, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Why I’m Keen on Quinoa

Since the advent of the word “foodies” back in the 1980s (yes, I looked up its origin, and that’s as reliable as any I could find), it sometimes feels that as a nation, when we aren’t obsessed with who wore it best, we’re definitely fixated on not just what we put in our mouths, but knowing precisely how every bite breaks down scientifically.

The only problem is, most of the information we gobble up nearly as quickly as a gluten-free gumdrop, is anything but scientific. And even what is touted as scientific is often disproved once it leaves the petri dish and finds its way to our watering mouths.

What this means is we have vegans, vegetarians, fruitarians, Paleos, blood type, low carb, high-protein – the list goes on and on. Food and nutrition and all that goes with them — a hot topic every day of the year. And, yes, there is way too much processed food and too many things added to our foods – even too many foods, if you ask me. But there is one thing we can never get enough of (and it’s good for digestion), and that’s laughter.

So, when I find a food that makes me laugh, I’m all for it. And this is where my little buddy Quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah) comes in. I was introduced to what has been purported to be one of the world’s healthiest foods a few years ago. In fact, the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations declared 2013 as “The International Year of the Quinoa.” But that’s so last year …

Quinoa is touted to be filled with not only high nutritional value, but antioxidants, flavonoids, anti-inflammatory phytonutrients, omega-3s – well – I could go on and on, but I’m pretty sure you’d soon surmise I have absolutely no idea what I’m talking about.

Why do I like Quinoa? Well, for one, it’s a snap to prepare. If you can boil water, you will be a Quinoa aficionado in no time flat. Which brings up something else I like about Quinoa. You can prepare it with chicken stock, or beef stock, or vegetable stock if you decide you want to eat ts more like you would rice and less like you would cereal.

Tired of your normal run-of-the-mill white Quinoa? Well, have no fear, because you can not only substitute red or black – but it even comes in a flake or flour variation.

creamed quinoa with berries

Quinoa: It’s what’s for breakfast.

I’ve tried it hot with almond milk, cinnamon, and walnuts, with a bit of coconut sugar and called it a heavenly breakfast. I’ve also had it piled on a salad at lunch with chicken breast, avocado, red bell peppers, and shredded carrots and not only felt full – but healthy. And as I mentioned, prepare it with your favorite broth or stock, and you can use it as a side dish in the evening. I’ve even had it in casseroles and gone back for more!

Okay, so you’d think my main reason for loving it would be its versatility (and healthy attributes) – right? Well, those are all just fine. But the reason I’ve grown to really love it is because Quinoa seems to have a sense of humor. I have yet to eat it without having some literally jump off my fork. I feel sort of like Horton in Horton Hears a Who, because I could almost swear I hear this tiny voice saying, “Wheeeee!” as it lands on the table, my lap, or the floor (depending on how careful I’m being not to spill any)!

If you doubt me, then you’ll have to prepare a batch for yourself and test my theory. Just remember this: while looking for information to share about this funny little grain, I discovered it is a species of goosefoot. Do you suppose that explains its ability to skedaddle?

Posted in Blog Stuff, Eating Well, Healthy Living, Humor, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Amoena USA’s Mission Strength Contest and Ambassador Search

This year, it’s time for us to honor you with something special, something different. It’s time for Amoena USA to give back in a really big way.

amoena mission strength contest flyerWin the chance to be an Amoena ambassador, enjoy a spa day getaway and support other women.

When you’re battling breast cancer, your Mission… you have no choice but to accept it… is to draw upon the strength that has, actually, always been part of you.
 
We think you deserve a medal…. or at least a very fine spa day!  The Young Survival Coalition (YSC) deserves a whole lot of support, too, for helping women find their strength along the way. Amoena and YSC have partnered to bring you an inspirational contest and nationwide Amoena ambassador search. Three (3) winners will be rewarded with the year’s most meaningful prize package:

  • A $10,000 donation to YSC on the winner’s behalf – this funding will help hundreds of young women diagnosed with breast cancer feel supported, informed and empowered.
  • A spa-day getaway –relax and unwind! Everyone knows the strongest women take care of themselves, on principle!
  • A year’s supply of beautiful Amoena lingerie – bra and panty sets, camisoles and flirty pieces to ensure you feel pretty. (See Contest Rules for complete details.)
  • A makeover and photo shoot in Amoena’s newest clothing lines — like Active, Night and Leisure wear — and the opportunity to be featured in our magazine and other publications.

How to Enter: Simply tell us how YOU have redefined strength and beauty after your breast cancer journey.

We’re looking for the difference-makers, the charge-leaders, the activists, and the trend-setters. Include a recent photo and you’re all set! Winners will be announced at the end of March.

Submit your entry at www.amoena.us/missionstrength, or email us at info@amoena.com with “MISSION: STRENGTH” in your Subject line. Contest runs through March 14, 2014. No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited. Please see the official Contest Rules.

We can’t wait to meet you!

mission strength logo

Posted in Breast Cancer Survivors, Contests, Giving Back, Inspiration, Lifestyle, My Story, Young Survivors | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

An Atlanta Event: Pink Pearls and Girls Together

UPDATE:  Due to impending inclement weather in the Atlanta area, we are going to cancel tomorrow’s event and reschedule it sometime this spring. We apologize for any inconvenience and we sincerely hope you’ll join us when the weather is warm and pleasant! Stay tuned for any further updates.
posted 2/10/14 at 10:25 am

Amoena USA is teaming up with Spa Sydell and Livi Rae Lingerie (you know, the Double Divas girls) at an exclusive breast cancer survivor event tomorrow, Feb. 11, in Midtown.

pink pearls invitationLet Molly & Cynthia provide you with a specialized bra fitting, focusing on your unique symmetry and balance to help you look and feel your best in comfortable and seductive lingerie from Amoena.

You will also get the opportunity to meet fellow breast cancer survivors from the Young Survival Coalition, and learn more about their resources and events.

This event is open to everyone, so bring your friends and family and help support breast cancer awareness. It’s a lovely girls’ night out, with a supportive purpose!

We are offering different packages, each of which include a personalized fitting, a bra, and a Swarovski bracelet. A portion of all sales will benefit the Young Survival Coalition.

pink pearl bracelet

If you book a package with a massage, please call Spa Sydell at (404) 255-7727 to confirm your appointment time. Book your massage during the day of the event and recieve a special gift from Spa Sydell. 

Let us celebrate YOU! Get all the details and Register here!

Posted in Amoena Press Releases, Bra Fittings, Breast Cancer Awareness, Breast Cancer Survivors, Giving Back, In the News, Support Groups | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Seamless, Strapless, Shaping Solutions for your Fashion Moments

Amoena’s new shapewear collection delivers the lingerie items on every woman’s wish list

Finding the perfect strapless bra is a challenge for most women, but when you’ve had a mastectomy going strapless seems almost impossible. Leading breast care designer Amoena has risen to the challenge, however, with its new strapless bra that incorporates fine mesh pockets to hold a breast form or bust enhancer comfortably, safely and discreetly in place.

Malissa Magyar, Amoena’s marketing manager, explains: “Whatever the season, a strapless bra is a must for every woman’s lingerie collection. But until now, women who wear a breast form have struggled to find a bra that fits the bill and, whether you’ve had breast surgery or not, strapless bras can often feel restricting. Amoena has a reputation for designing lingerie that fits like a dream, and this bra is no exception. And because it also has a convertible option, with detachable straps that can be crossed over at the back, plus a set of clear straps, we think it will be a great favorite this spring.”

Amoena Barbara strapless mastectomy bra

Amoena’s first strapless bra, Barbara

The new strapless bra (Barbara, Style #2457) is part of Amoena’s shapewear collection that also includes a new ‘3D’ wire-free bra that uses ingenious stitching to offer the support and shape of an underwire style; a back-shaping bra (Magdalena, Style #2463) that helps streamline the upper back and looks great under fitted tops; seam-free panties; and a range of tummy-control shapewear for the perfect silhouette.

The shapewear range is part of Amoena’s spring/summer 2014 collection, available at selected Amoena retailers, starting in January.

To find out more about Amoena and locate stores nationwide, visit www.amoena.us.

Media inquiries, please visit our Press Room.

Posted in Amoena Fashion, Amoena Press Releases, Amoena Textiles, In the News, Inside Amoena, Intimate Apparel, Mastectomy Products, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Preaching to the Acquired

I’m not embarrassed to admit it. I’ve had a couple of rough months. I’ve been dealing with and talking to women with breast cancer long enough to realize my plight is nothing special. Having said that, in the past few months I’ve also realized there are some lessons we seem to be faced with over and over whether we feel we’ve already learned what we need to know or not.

In a previous post I mentioned I’ve been diagnosed with DCIS and plan to start a clinical trial in Philadelphia in late March. Even with this new diagnosis and the decisions I will be making about whether or not to have a bilateral mastectomy, etc., my life felt pretty much like rainbows and roses, because everyone kept assuring me that DCIS is not life threatening.

And then, just a couple of days before Christmas while I was taking a shower, I discovered a lump under the scar tissue beneath where I’d had 21 lymph nodes removed 18 years ago during my first breast cancer surgery. Here is how that moment felt – it was as though time had stopped (along with my heart, brain, well, pretty much everything except those parts of my body that REALLY wanted to purge)! At this point I want to once again say, why is it we seem to always find a lump on a weekend or holiday so there’s nothing we can do but feel it over and over again – and worry?

SaintGermain-pink-drinkI don’t want to draw this out so here’s what happened: Over the Christmas break I had a doctor examine the lump, I had an ultrasound to see the lump, and I had a biopsy to remove and evaluate the lump. Thank God for family, friends – and my new favorite drink: Saint Germain with pink grapefruit juice, a whisper of gin, a splash of grenadine and lots of ice – I somehow survived the over two weeks it took to get the results. Whatever it was under my armpit was benign. (And I am not going to apologize for drinking alcohol, although I fully appreciate it is not good for me – but if anyone ever needed a bit of liquid courage, I did!)

Throughout this most recent drama I once again tried to prepare myself for bad news, and I realized something. I’m really, really, really tired of bad news. Not just for myself but for all of us. And I’m also feeling what I assume is survivor’s remorse because I know exactly how fortunate I am – I also know not everyone gets the phone call I was lucky enough to receive.

Before I learned the biopsy results, I realized that sometime during those stressful weeks I had started talking to myself out loud, and it wasn’t because I was drinking. I was so sick of worrying, and so tired of feeling like Debbie Downer (really, just how much does a friend or loved one want to hear?) that I would catch myself saying things to the only audience on hand (that would be me) like “There’s no use worrying about it, you big goofball. Whatever is going to happen, is going to happen.” Luckily, at least up until this point, I was not answering myself.

I sang songs like Whenever I Feel Afraid. I recited Psalms. I looked at myself in the mirror and said “It’s okay, it’s okay.” I wondered if I was suffering from PTSD. Then I pretty much accepted that if I wasn’t there was definitely something wrong with me! Along with my new favorite drink, I think I’ve earned being a tad neurotic and anxious.

And throughout this whole process I acquired just a smidgen of wisdom about learning how to accept what is whether we want to or not. I am now actively working on ways to learn how to stop worrying so much and to let go of fear (again, there is no alcohol involved!) That is probably not an easy thing for most of us – but I think it’s particularly difficult for anyone who keeps butting heads with a potentially deadly unknown.

I promise next month I will share something uplifting – something funny – something interesting. I promise. I am also determined that for the time being, the most ominous thing I will look for during my showers is a bar of soap.

So, you can take this bit of relieved rambling for what it is – just that – or you can cut to probably the very most important thing I shared. The recipe for a really, really good drink!

Posted in Breast Cancer Survivors, Early Detection, Positive Thinking, Recipes, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

2014 POWER Symposium Registration is Open

the POWER Symposium

Amoena and Juzo host fourth annual conference – Register now!

Online registration  is now open for the fourth annual POWER Symposium. Join Amoena and Juzo March 6 – 9, 2014, in Nashville, TN. The conference will take place in the heart of Music City at the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center. The 2014 conference is shaping up to be the best yet—packed with dynamic speakers, insightful content and incredible deals. We are confident that you’ll take away new ideas to help grow your business and products your customers will love.

Our robust schedule won’t disappoint. The three-day symposium kicks off with a half-day session on Medicare with representatives from each jurisdiction. You asked for more time with Medicare—you got it. Since we’re in Nashville, our first keynote speaker is local songwriter and musician Jana Stanfield who is sure to leave you feeling inspired and energized for the rest of the conference. We’ve also added more networking opportunities with your peers, including a roundtable discussion on proven business strategies. A panel of medical experts will explain patient cases, ailments, treatments, trends and products that aid in recovery. Other speakers will explain more about lymphadema, marketing tactics that separate you from the competition and more.

As always, we’ll offer exclusive discounts on products from Amoena, Juzo and other exhibitors. If you’ve attended POWER before, you know we’ll also make sure you have plenty of fun! Come let us educate, inspire and entertain you.

Register online for the2014 POWER Symposium. You’ll save by registering early. Registration is $80 until Friday, Jan. 17. Register now to save AND you’ll be entered to win a spa package at the Opryland Resort during your stay at POWER.

Questions? Feedback? Email POWER@administrare.com.

Posted in Amoena Tradeshows, Inside Amoena, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Mixed Blessings

Wow, this past year has been a whirlwind, and as we wind towards the end of 2013 I have been abruptly reminded of just how quickly we go from the land of the healthy to that of the breast cancer diagnosed. You’d think there would be some bodily warning signs to alert us, but as I can attest, in 1996 and then in 2005 – and now again in 2013, breast cancer does not seem to come with a warning label!

Since October (when I was diagnosed with DCIS) I have been trying to really pay attention this time. Not that I wasn’t paying attention before, but over the nearly 18 years since my original diagnosis, I’m noticing that I only really pay attention to breast cancer when someone says I have it. Because, as is human nature, when it’s in the abstract the need to be hyper-vigilant is simply not that great. Actually, when breast cancer is in the abstract, there are times when not thinking about it at all feels the most healing.

Well, I no longer have that luxury. Not only must I think about it, but I must make every attempt to take some sort of action that will allow me to say goodbye to breast cancer once and for all. And as we all know, that is no small task.

Last week I had my first round of appointments with my former oncologist and the female surgeon I will most likely be using when the time comes to make surgical decisions. Although I was not thrilled with the shift I’ve made from observer to patient, I had to chuckle when I realized just how fluidly we flow from regular human being to someone who can carry on a conversation while another person is feeling their breasts and poking fingers into their armpits. I can honestly say I would never have dreamed I could feel so relatively comfortable in these circumstances. But what else are you going to do? Flinch every time you have to disrobe? That would involve a lot of flinching!

While I was sitting in the oncology waiting room (God, how many times have I had to do this?) a young man came out of the doctor’s office and sat across from me. He couldn’t have been more than 21 or 22 – and it was obvious even to this casual observer that he was desperately ill. Whatever cancer he is suffering from is doing its best to disfigure him. I had thought when I first saw him that he had been badly burned, but overheard a nurse saying the markings I was seeing were tumors. He was waiting while they attempted to get him admitted to the hospital.

I didn’t want to appear to be staring, but he was sitting directly across from me, so it was not only awkward to look directly at him, it was equally awkward to try to avert my eyes. At one point we made eye contact and I smiled at him. It was as much to reassure myself as it was meant to show him that regardless of his physical deformities, I was trying to connect with him on a human level. My smile brought him to tears, but I wasn’t sure if I had comforted him or made him feel even more alone.

In that moment, I was absolutely, completely aware of the fact that I didn’t know what to do next. What I wanted to do was go and put my arms around him and tell him I wished there was something I could do. But I was a complete stranger, and was afraid any action on my part would be way too intrusive. In fact, I was fearful that my smile had not been seen as an act of kindness or compassion, but had only served to make him feel more alone.

I sat there wondering whose baby he was, because as a mother, I couldn’t help thinking how heartbroken someone who knows and loves him must be. I pondered why he was alone, trying not to put more drama into an already highly dramatic situation. I reassured myself that his parents lived far away and were probably on their way and would arrive any moment. I couldn’t bear the thought that he might truly be alone. And yet, I understand that not all stories even have happy beginnings.

While all of this was going through my mind, the nurse ushered me into the room so I could have my exam. In no time flat I was talking about my disease, my life, my this, my that – and the young man in the waiting room was ushered into that part of the brain where memories get stored.

I find it humbling when I give myself permission to think about what my brief encounter with that young man brought to me that day. I was feeling pretty sorry for myself. He made me realize just how lucky I am. He made me wish I was wiser, so I’d somehow have known how to truly comfort him. He made me grateful my own children are healthy – but sad that he is not. He made me wish I could know his story – but understand that it is his story, not mine, and in some ways my wish is simply so I can somehow feel better.

In the coming months I will be entering a clinical trial taking place at the University of Pennsylvania. I hope to start in late March. I will be writing more about this in the future, but for the moment I just wanted to take the time to share someone with you who touched my life in a very significant way – and who ironically will never know what an impact he had.

As we enter this joyous season, I hope each of you will take a moment to reflect upon someone who changed your life in this way and send your best wishes their direction.

Posted in Giving Back, Mental Health, My Story, Positive Thinking | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Amoena Launches Fall 2014 Fashion Textiles

Now more than ever, Amoena supports women every moment of every day

The success of Amoena’s 2013 textile collections – Active wear, Night, and Home & Leisure, as well as the refreshingly sexy Everyday and Seduction lingerie lines – revealed that established leaders in pocketed bra technology can also be fashion experts. Now the company is introducing its Fall 2014 offerings for retail pre-sales.

“We’ve got a laser focus on our vision of supporting women every moment of every day,” says Marcie Peters, president and general manager for the Americas. Indeed, the comprehensive Amoena portfolio covers everything from the moment she wakes up to career essentials to versatile workout wear – along with pocketed lingerie and swimwear. “The 2014 collections will carry that vision forward with new wardrobe essentials in every segment, as well as punches of color and style that we haven’t really put into play before,” she says.

Active-Web-Graphics_Fall-2014Never forgetting comfort overall, Amoena has expanded its use of performance fabrics like Supplex, Comfort+ and Modal, to provide the consumer with an exceptional wearing experience. Particularly in the Home & Leisure collection, which includes pants, jackets and a variety of shirt styles, these fabrics feel luxurious and support with full shelf bras built into every garment.

They’ve also added some bra must-haves: Barbara, a bra with convertible straps that can also be worn strapless (an Amoena first); and Magdalena, a back-smoothing bra, top on many women’s wish lists!

Retailers and consumers will be happy to see a color palette that’s on-trend. Plenty of deep red, berry and plum appear through the limited edition bra and panty sets and will really make a statement for Fall 2014.

Everday-Web-Graphics_Fall-2014

To see the collections and secure your pre-order, retailers should contact their Amoena Account Manager or call 1-800-926-6362.

To find out more about Amoena, visit www.amoena.us.

Media inquiries, please visit our Press Room.

Posted in Active wear, Amoena Fashion, Amoena Press Releases, Amoena Textiles, Fashion, In the News, Inside Amoena, Intimate Apparel, Lifestyle, Mastectomy Products, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment