Ana Ono

In May, 2015, I had the privilege to model in a lingerie show by a designer that creates for breast cancer patients, survivors, and non survivors.  Dana’s line is truly amazing.  It is sexy and supportive.   The intricate detail I love most is that she is a survivor also and the craftsmanship of the product is stellar.    I remember seeing a post on Facebook in the Young Breast Cancer survivor group I am part of stating that they are in need of survivor models.  I read the post way too many times before I reached out to Dana of Ana Ono and expressed interest.  After doing so, I was nervous but felt liberated.  I was going to be walking in lingerie in front of a crowd of people that I didn’t know, with the exception of some very dear friends…I thought to myself, what have I agreed to lol?  The whole experience was amazing!  The drawn out process of waiting to get in to hair and makeup, learning how we will line up and strut our stuff was so exciting.  There were tears, nervous jitters, connections made and strength built upon as we walked in our courage and vulnerability. There is an unspoken sisterhood amongst survivors.  It truly was a memorable night.   Proceeds from the event that evening were donated to http://www.jillswish.org.  I encourage you to visit the website and support.  Also, please check out Dana’s creations at http://www.anaono.com

Ana Ono featured me as one of their survivor guests a while back and posted my story on their website:

I am Marcy.  My name means “War Like” so I guess I was predestined to be a warrior!  My journey through breast cancer is not only one of survival, but one of reconnecting with myself.  I was diagnosed with stage 1 triple positive breast cancer on May 29, 2013 at the age of 34.  This diagnosis came 9 days after the one-year anniversary of my wife of 16 years passing away unexpectedly.  My diagnosis was generated from an instinctive feeling that something just didn’t feel right.  Lying down on that side or my stomach felt different…I never felt a lump.  As I embraced my diagnosis and continued to pick up pieces of my shattered heart, I felt a momentary sense of defeat…but only for a second.  I remember asking myself “why is all of this happening to me?” and then immediately answering myself with a why not?  It was at that moment that I decided to take these challenges as a compliment and that I may have cancer but cancer never had me.

To have lost someone that I deeply loved and grew with for over half of my life felt like I lost part of myself.  Knowing I was going to face cancer without her was undoubtedly the most heart wrenching part of this journey.  My treatment consisted of a biopsy, a lumpectomy and lymph node dissection, 12 rounds of chemotherapy, 20 accelerated radiation treatments, Herceptin injections and I refused to let any of them knock me down.  The road wasn’t easy but I know it could have been much worse. There were many tears, as crying is important in letting out the thoughts and feelings that float around as private literature in my spirit.  Some days are just filled with crying.

Even though I was able to “save” my breasts, there is a physical difference between them that causes a slight interference in my confidence.  Shopping for clothing that makes me feel sexier became a challenge. Shirts that reveal cleavage sometimes show my dimpled biopsy site and scar and I’m sure no one really notices it, but I know its presence.  Shopping for bras was a disappointment because one side fits perfect while the other could use a little more support. I am in love with the AnaOno bras that I own and the passion behind this product makes me feel more empowered as a woman and as a survivor!

Side effects from treatment linger and while some may be temporary, others could be life long.  I have always been a healthy and active person that enjoys running, yoga and all things outdoors but these activities after treatment remind me to be patient with myself…really patient.  I tire more easily and deal with peripheral neuropathy and healing pain associated with scars and scar tissue, and for someone who loves to run, clumsy tingly feet literally keep me on my toes.  I battled with food and the decisions of should I eat this, is this bad for me, I shouldn’t have too much of this or too much of that.  I still battle with those thoughts, but I remind myself that I find joy in great food and I will allow the not so healthy foods to provide comfort in moderation.  Reoccurrence anxiety is something that can take hold of my emotions and cause stress in an unexpected capacity some days.  While I don’t fully accept reoccurrence as my reality, I don’t deny it as a possibility.  Instead, I embrace what life chooses to do through me while remaining gratefully humble.  Life as a young widow and a young survivor creates a class act of self-doubt and a potentially sabotaging thought process for me when it comes to dating.  Here I am, with beautiful scars wrapped in an unfamiliar desire to share my vulnerability in trying to figure out the dating scene in my thirties…definitely a work in progress.  Obviously I maintain my sense of humor within this dating territory because some days all I can do is laugh.

Bonds were found and molded together through my breast cancer journey and the authenticity of family and friendships remain unbroken.  Their unwavering support is priceless.  I found a young breast cancer survivor group, Carolina Breast Friends, here in Charlotte that provides a heartfelt connection.  The strength and courage of these women is truly inspiring. It is important to maintain a sisterhood of shared experience and the comfort through similar pain reminds us all to breathe. Some days that’s all we need to do…just breathe.

So my survivor skills are on point and through all of this I found a new artistic avenue and a restored spirit.  I collage random items like tables, bowls, frames, and cigar boxes and have found therapy in the whole process.  My art reflects the dynamic layers of my life infused with healing energy.  My diagnosis was a catapult of a grand spiritual reconnection to myself in which I continue to nourish daily. I became a Reiki practitioner after receiving Reiki as part of my therapy before undergoing surgery and I have been amazed.  I have dreams to remember and fulfill…and who knows, I may get all this private literature out for the world to read one day.

Through cancer, I was shoved out of a familiar place within my grief only to emerge for the world to see my strength for the second time around.  It has realigned me to my purpose in life and I feel as though I belong to myself again because I now understand the capacity of my fortitude and resilience.  There is too much war in the words of my silence, so I will continue to share my story by walking in my vulnerability, nurturing a stronger side of myself, and hoping to inspire those open to receive.  I love my scars and will let them serve as a reminder of my resilience in this beautiful kaleidoscope life as I continue to live in my strength.

I will be walking in another fashion show for Ana Ono here in Charlotte on September, 24. I hope you can make it out to support!

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