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10TV: Breast cancer and body image

Breast cancer can have many effects on women, including issues with body image. Many women who don’t have breast cancer struggle with what they see looking back at them in the mirror. But add in the loss of a breast (or both) from a mastectomy, loss of hair from chemotherapy, scarring and other side effects such as weight gain and it can be an emotional time for many women fighting the disease.

Breast cancer survivor Kirsten Kerr knows that all too well. As someone who struggled with body image before her diagnosis, the struggle continued during treatment.

Kirsten was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer at age 34. Her surgeon, Larry Lilly, MD, performed a mastectomy. She then went on to have reconstruction and radiation.

“Even with reconstruction, they don’t look like they did,” Kirsten told 10TV reporter Tracy Townsend. “They don’t fit in clothing like they did. They don’t fit in bras like they did.”

Dana Donofree had the same experience. She was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 27 and had a problem fitting into clothes after her reconstruction surgery.

"I couldn't find anything to wear I was wearing sports bras and layering tanks and camisoles and said this can't be everything-- this can't be it," Donofree told Townsend.

This inspired Donofree to start her own business called “Ana Ono,” designing bras and camisoles for mastectomy patients.

“The majority of women won’t be able to wear traditional lingerie after their mastectomy and reconstruction due to many factors, such as underwire, fabrication, external seams and because implant and FLAP reconstruction often results in flatter, rounder and higher breast mounds,” said Donofree. “Our bras, radiation and recovery collections are made with their fit and sizing needs in mind, as well as their material and design needs that avoid pain points, incision lines and scar tissue.”

Kirsten says these bras give her more confidence. “They don’t look like sports bras. They’re really pretty and comfortable,” she said.

The Ana Ono line is sold at the Over My Head boutique, which is located right inside the OhioHealth Bing Cancer Center. Over My Head is the first, and currently only, mastectomy and lingerie shop in Ohio to carry Ana Ono’s collections.