PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A Kensington fashion designer was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 27, after finding a lump. She went on to create something to make herself feel better and now she’s sharing it with the world.
“Just cause it’s a mastectomy bra doesn’t mean it has to look like one,” said Dana Donofree. “I never thought I would be a lingerie designer.”
Donofree designs beautiful bras for breast cancer patients that are lacy and sexy.
“I never thought I would be a lingerie designer,” she said.
The 36-year-old fashion designer says her career and life took an abrupt turn the day before her 28th birthday when she was diagnosed with advanced breast cancer.
“Everything stopped, the world stopped spinning,” Donofree said. “It was frightening and scary. I didn’t know if I was going to live.”
Treatment included a double mastectomy and chemotherapy.
“After my reconstruction surgery, I found wearing intimate apparel was really difficult, didn’t fit and it was really uncomfortable,” Donofree said.
So the fashion designer went to work with a new mission that became her own line called “AnaOno.”
“Everything we do at AnaOno is built for women with new breasts or no breasts,” Donofree said. “That’s really the secret sauce; is that we embrace every woman at every piece of her journey.
“I always say it’s not even a bra because this is just a piece of yourself that makes you feel like the person you were before cancer ruined your body.”
Her bras are designed to accommodate various situations that breast cancer patients face.
“Lace is important,” she said. “We don’t use side seems because a lot of scar tissue resides down the rib cage.”
Since launching in 2014, AnaOno has become an ever-expanding success.
Now, the brand has a presence at Fashion Week, where breast cancer patients are also the models.
“Nobody had ever done it before and I’m just so proud of the patient models that put their lives out for the world to see,” Donofree said.
And now, through AnaOno, the world is seeing the beauty and power that patients can embrace with something so basic.
“By putting something on that makes you feel comfortable and confident that close to your skin is the empowering piece,” she said.
The name AnaOno is a twist on Dana Donafree’s name, without the double “D”s.