For those of you that might not follow us on Instagam or Facebook, we wanted to give you the opportunity to catch up on our very popular “Gorgeous Woman of the Month” series. A monthly feature designed to highlight women impacted by cancer that inspire us. In their own words, these courageous warriors tell us their stories: their diagnosis, their challenges, their inspiration and how they have given back to this incredible community of loving and supportive women. The purpose of this series is to offer inspiration, camaraderie, understanding and most importantly, to remind us that even in something as ugly as a cancer diagnosis, we are all still GORGEOUS – inside and out.
For those that aren’t “socially savvy” but would like to keep up to date on our Gorgeous Woman of the Month series, not to worry, we will be posting them in the blog section of our website www.gorgeousyou.ca along with our social feeds going forward.
So for now, here is our lineup of Gorgeous Women to date. Enjoy!
My name is Kim Angell and I was diagnosed with stage 2b breast cancer at 34 years old after finding a lump during a self-exam. My gut feeling knew what it was but I naively hoped I was too young. Things started moving quickly and I was immediately scheduled for a lumpectomy, followed by 8 rounds of dose dense chemotherapy, and 28 treatments of radiation. As the end of treatment came into sight though, a second opinion on my pathology report revealed that I may still have cancer remaining in my breast. I underwent a prophylactic bilateral mastectomy with immediate latissimus dorsi flap reconstruction six months later and was finally given the news that I was NED. I’m now on hormone therapy to reduce my risk of recurrence and have been through two more surgeries to help reconstruct my breasts.
Early on into treatment, I sought out resources in my community for young women with breast cancer but found a lot of the information to be geared towards older women facing much different realities. I wanted to know what it was like to lose my hair, my breasts, and my ability to have children in my 30s. The way my body would change going through early menopause and how to navigate life after cancer as those around me were in the prime of their lives. So, I decided to start a blog, Smile Through the Fog, and share my story through social media in the hopes of reaching out to other young women going through the same thing and let them know they were not alone.
Although this journey has been nothing short of a rollercoaster ride, it has shown me what I am really passionate about in life and that is being a young breast cancer advocate and changemaker. Between the messages I now receive from young women around the world to volunteering with organizations like Rethink Breast Cancer and the BC Cancer Foundation, much of my time is spent focusing on what I can do to help bring a voice to the thousands of women under the age of 40 being diagnosed with breast cancer every year. I have begun educating oncologists in my community on the immediate need for more resources for young women facing a breast cancer diagnosis and am working to start up a local support group that meets once per month because no one should ever have to face this disease alone.
What makes me feel gorgeous? Being able to look in the mirror and see a woman who is strong, confident, and perfectly imperfect.
We are excited to introduce our #GorgeousWomanoftheMonth. A monthly feature on Gorgeous You that showcases a woman who inspires us and what makes her feel #GORGEOUS? This month, meet Lori Konst through the eyes of her best friend, Tiffany.
I have never met anyone as gorgeous as you Lori Konst! My best friend from Grade 4, you are a beautiful soul - inside and out. From the time Lori was in grade school, she was always everyone’s friend, always saw the positive in everything that was sent her way - a happy, fun-loving soul. She was dealt some bad cards but always faced them head on. If someone was sad, Lori could be counted on to lift their spirits. She sure is one of the good ones sent to all of us. Here are a few words that best describe our friendship: Smiles, Sunsets, Love, Patience, Faith, Laughter, Courage, Confidence and Beauty.
Lori was diagnosed with Stage 4 rectal cancer that had metastasized to her liver and lungs in 2015 after a routine colonoscopy. She continues to amaze us all with her inner strength, beauty and insatiable zest for life. She is a fighter and fights for her family & friends as well as her second family at the Brant Community Cancer Clinic at Brantford General Hospital. The staff at the clinic are wonderful, caring and compassionate individuals that make Lori feel as comfortable as possible. As Lori put it, “I have a Plan A, B & C”. She is now on Plan C, her third line of chemotherapy which is not a cure, it is to prolong her life and spend time with all of us.
Each year Lori is part of “Push your Tush” raising money for Colon Cancer Canada.
Lori lives each day to the fullest. Her husband took a leave of absence to spend time with Lori and they have travelled to some beautiful places including Italy, Assisi, Greece, Holland, Dubai, Carribean and Vancouver.
God Bless all who are going through or have been through cancer. It is a terrible disease that affects and takes so many wonderful souls. It’s just not fair.
Friday, 18 April 2008. The day my life changed completely. I heard the words “I’m sorry, you have breast cancer”.
It will be 10 years in April 2018 since I heard the dreaded big C word. Honestly, I was unprepared for the medical journey – surgery and treatment. If a fortune teller told me a few years later I would create and launch a new lingerie brand, Red Fern Lingerie …. I would definitely have thought they were nuts!! But that is how my personal journey evolved.
To know Red Fern Lingerie www.redfernlingerie.com , you need to know my love of beautiful lingerie. I love the lace, the delicate fabrics, the way that just putting something nice on changed my day and how I felt. So you can only imagine how I felt when I went for a fitting post-surgery and saw the limited styles available. Basically, my choice were bras that belonged on my great great great grandmother, not a 37 year old woman used to wearing beautiful lingerie.
I was unable to understand why lingerie that has a purpose of being functional could not also be pretty, stylish, modern. It was like mastectomy lingerie was a taboo within the lingerie industry.
From my frustration and wanting to provide a real choice to my sister survivors I started Red Fern Lingerie. My goal is to create lingerie that is modern, stylish and sexy. My goal is to return the choice to my sister survivors when shopping for lingerie, the choice we enjoyed before cancer took it away. My goal is to allow my sister survivors to feel like the amazing women they are despite what the disease and treatment took away. I also believe beautiful lingerie can help us heal emotionally and reclaim our body confidence.
In 2016, I was invited to participate in the Academy Awards gifting suite and I was also interviewed by the panel on The Project TV, Channel 10. I also exhibited in New York City at an international lingerie trade-fair and Red Fern Lingerie was the only mastectomy brand exhibiting and was also the first ever brand to be modelled by breast cancer survivors at the event.
On a personal level, creating Red Fern Lingerie has helped me reclaim the confidence in my body, self and soul. By creating a brand that truly understands my sister survivors it brings me joy to see women feel fantastic again. It was amazing to watch Lisa, my model, on the day of the photoshoot. By the end of the day, she was confident and happy. You can see her confidence and the joy in her eyes in the photographs. It made me emotional to see that the lingerie I created helped her feel that joy again.
What makes me feel gorgeous? I can honestly say my love of what I do and how it is helping many women to feel fabulous again. I have received many emails, letters and telephone calls from women who love wearing Red Fern Lingerie. In essence, the messages are always the same from the women; "thank you for helping me feel like a woman again" and "thank you for finally giving me a real choice in lingerie".
We are happy to introduce our #GorgeousWomanoftheMonth. A monthly feature here on Gorgeous You, that will showcase a woman who inspires us with what makes her feel GORGEOUS.
This month meet Manon Labrecque.
“Using my passion to support my community in the most impactful ways is what makes me feel gorgeous."
Manon Labrecque was diagnosed with breast cancer 4 years ago at the age of 44. Although she had spent over 20 years of her career conducting research in psychosocial oncology to understand the impact of cancer, it did not prepare her for what she was about to face. The hardest thing to overcome was not the surgery, chemo, or radiation, it was the paralyzing fear and learning to master her own thoughts so that she could move forward. Manon was adamant that she was not going to let cancer define who she was, but instead felt changed by her cancer journey.
“I did not know how to put the pieces of my life back together while people around me expected me to carry on as “normal”. How could I “pick up where I left off” when the big C is staring me in the face each morning when I get dress as I looked at my mastectomy scars.”
She transformed her challenging experiences into opportunities for growth. A service to support women who had completed their cancer treatments, a service that did not exist in her community, a service to inspire and empower women who are overcoming the challenges associated with their cancer diagnosis and its treatment. The Dragonfly Wellness Retreat (https://www.facebook.com/Evolve-Paramedical-Cosmetic-Tattoo-1244422598984016/?fref=mentions) is an innovative not-for-profit community based organization created to support women affected by cancer on their journey to wellness through weekend retreats.
She also decided to follow her dream and share her lifelong artistic talent with others. After an extensive micro-pigmentation training, Manon is the owner of Evolve: Paramedical & Cometic Tattoo (https://www.facebook.com/Evolve-Paramedical-Cosmetic-Tattoo-1244422598984016/) With the goal to help women take charge of their appearance and in some case, complete the final step in breast reconstruction.
"#Cancer does not define who I am but my fear, pain and losses in the face of cancer lead me to grow to be the best version of myself. I am grateful and feel privileged to be able to help this amazing tribe of gorgeous women who have been affected by cancer."