On a Friday the 13th almost a year ago, bridal shop owner, Lori Allen, got the dreaded call from her doctor that she had breast cancer. “At first, I was in shock. I couldn’t even say the words “breast cancer” for days,” recalls Allen, who was taking her husband Eddie to the hospital to have a cancerous tumor removed when she got the news.
The day and the diagnosis may have been unlucky, but Allen, famous for her sassy approach on TLC’s Say Yes To The Dress: Atlanta, was determined to turn her situation around. She blogged about her experience, and had her entire journey filmed and broadcast on TLC’s Say Yes to the Cure: Lori’s Fight.
Now, just a few days before her one year anniversary of diagnosis, Allen will be joining the American Cancer Society® and over 100 wives of NCAA® men’s college basketball coaches involved in the Coaches vs. Cancer® program at a Fight Cancer In Style Event on April 6, during NCAA Final Four weekend in Atlanta, Georgia.
“I realized I had an opportunity to give hope to other women by sharing my story publicly,” Allen says. “My mammogram and the early detection of my cancer made such an impact in my life, I want to inspire other women to get checked.”
Fighting Cancer In Style
Fight Cancer in Style is an exclusive luncheon, networking opportunity and boutique shopping event hosted by coaches’ wives to raise awareness about how everyone can help to finish the fight against cancer. For Allen, the event was a perfect fit — for more reason than one. During her own cancer journey, she realized the importance of feeling good even when you’re sick.
“Throughout my treatment and even after my double mastectomy, I still dressed up, wearing makeup and my favorite outfits and accessories. It lifted my spirits and made me feel special,” she says.
According to a 2012 Harris Interactive Survey, of more than 1,200 women surveyed nationwide, 37 percent of women with cancer said that they avoided leaving the house because of the way they looked after going through treatment. But, it doesn’t have to be that way.
Louanne Roark, executive director of the Personal Care Products Council Foundation and spokesperson for the Look Good Feel Better program — a public service program that teaches beauty techniques to cancer patients to help them manage the appearance-related side effects of cancer treatment — says efforts to help women boost their appearance are about “more than eyeliner and lipstick.”
“Many of the women who come through our workshops have told us that after undergoing treatment, they simply don’t recognize the person looking back at them in the mirror. We understand the incredible stress that cancer causes beyond the diagnosis: self-esteem, control, relationships and many of the aspects that define normalcy come under attack,” Roark explains.
“We know there is a cascade of emotions following a cancer diagnosis and cancer treatment. What many don’t realize is that these outward signs of cancer also rob one’s sense of self and self-confidence,” she says.
And that’s what Lori Allen has been encouraging women to avoid.
“If you’re facing a cancer diagnosis, don’t give up on yourself! Keep doing whatever it is that makes you feel beautiful, because you are,” Allen says.
Look Good Feel Better is a collaboration between the American Cancer Society, the Personal Care Products Council Foundation, and the Professional Beauty Association. Additional resources for women are available in the breast cancer information and resources guide on cancer.org/fightbreastcancer and in the Society’s Tender Loving Care catalogue.