Meet the CEO of AnaOno, Dana Donofree
This month is all about Breast Cancer Awareness. And what better way to share our passion for boobs than to highlight our partnership with AnaOno. We joined forces with post-surgical bra brand AnaOno to expand our collection of better bras designed for your body to make you look and feel great. We sat down with Dana Donofree, CEO of AnaOno, to get the inside scoop on the brand and her experience as a breast cancer survivor.
Q: So Dana, where did the name AnaOno come from?
Dana: AnaOno comes from my name Dana Donofree, but now I am Double D-free (wink, wink).
Q: How did you find the inspiration to design your own line of surgical bras while recovering from breast cancer?
Dana: I was shocked that after I underwent a mastectomy with reconstruction that my old clothing and bras no longer fit. There were aspects of my cancer treatment I was prepared for, like losing my hair, and feeling tired. I didn’t expect that my body would change so dramatically that I would have to throw away all my favorite undergarments. What was available after my breast surgery was old, matronly-looking, mastectomy bras.
I knew that we needed better, and I figured I would be the one to give it a try. I just wanted to feel like I did before breast cancer, I wanted to shop where I did before breast cancer, but unfortunately, there was nothing out there that fit my new body, so I designed it.
Q: How does it feel to be the pioneer of women’s surgical bras? How is AnaOno different from other brands?
Dana: Like most, finding a gap in the market is part of the battle, but I didn’t just set out to disrupt the mastectomy industry. I set out to change the way that we SEE mastectomy. AnaOno prides itself on creating bras for those often underrepresented in any traditional marketplace, those living without breasts or reconstructed chests.
The offering was limited only to mastectomy bras that are pocketed for the use of breast forms. Every lingerie company makes bras for people with two breasts, that leaves millions of people without much of a choice. I wanted to change that when I launched AnaOno. No matter your chest, you are beautiful, and no one deserves to feel any less than that.
Q: How did the AnaOno and ThirdLove partnership come about? What should our customers know about your brand?
Dana: I was first introduced to Heidi, CEO of ThirdLove, during a breast cancer campaign, Not One Type. I introduced her to AnaOno, and the importance of including this audience to achieve inclusive goals. ThirdLove and AnaOno speak the same language: We both believe that all people, with and without breasts, deserve to feel beautiful, it’s a perfect partnership. AnaOno is about embracing your body, feeling good about yourself, and finding beauty in life’s darkest places. AnaOno is more than just a bra company — it’s a community, a movement. With AnaOno, you are never alone.
Q: What advice would you give a woman discovering post-surgery bras for the first time going through treatment?
Dana: You don’t have to sacrifice comfort for beauty, you can have both (another reason why ThirdLove is the perfect partner). I believe that feeling good, means healing better. We don’t have to give this part of ourselves away. It is the little things in life that matter. My goal is that any person undergoing breast surgery never feel the way I did in recovery. If we can save someone just a fraction of that pain and loss of the sense of self, we’ve done our job.
Q: You were diagnosed with breast cancer at 27. When do you recommend women start speaking to their doctors about screening?
Dana: Breast cancer does not discriminate, young to old, rich to poor, male or female, it affects 1 in 8 women in their lifetime. Everyone must try to understand and assess their own risk. If you have a family history of breast or ovarian cancers, you should diligently be talking to your medical team on an annual basis. Have risky or unhealthy behaviors, your doctor should inform you of increased risks developing disease in high risk profiles.
But no matter who you are or what you do with your personal life, you have to know your body, you are your best detection tool. Set a reminder on your phone for breast health checks, it could be in the shower, it could be while putting on body lotion, but just give yourself that extra few minutes to understand your breast tissue. If you see or feel a change, get informed and address it with your medical professionals.
Q: If there’s one piece of advice you would give to someone who was just diagnosed with breast cancer, what would it be?
Dana: One day at a time. It can and likely will be overwhelming, not every day, but often. It’s ok. One day at a time. One foot in front of the other. Give yourself patience and grace, and don’t be too hard on yourself. Every day we are making advancements with this disease, we can only hope that tomorrow and the day after brings us more treatments and therapies for better lifelong outcomes.
Q: What has your journey been like as a breast cancer survivor?
Dana: I am lucky to be here today to share in advocacy and activism that impacts the lives of those afflicted by breast cancer, sadly, so many of my dear friends are not. I never understood the impact of breast cancer, until I had it. It is not fluffy pink boas and pretty pink ribbons, it is so much more than that. This disease takes lives, and tens of thousands of them a year.
1 in 3 breast cancer patients will experience metastasis, that means the cancer spreads beyond the breast and affects other vital organs. Today, there is no cure for Stage IV breast cancer. It has been my goal to support Stage IV research to give us a chance to have one more day with those we love. And to do that, we need everyone to play a part, whether it’s an ally, an advocate, or an activist. We need an army.
Q: It’s incredibly hard to remain optimistic after a diagnosis, what would you say to women out there who are struggling to find hope within themselves?
Dana: I get a refreshing wave of hope every morning. I wake up, take a deep breath, and put my feet on the floor. Life is precious. After a diagnosis, you really understand that every day should count for something. It’s a level of awareness about life and time that not everyone experiences in their life. It’s ok to see the doom and gloom, that is normal, and we should talk about that more often. It is also equally as important to find hope in your day to day. Because it isn’t easy, doesn’t mean it isn’t important.
Q: In what ways were your breasts part of your identity and how did that change during and after your diagnosis?
Dana: I never really thought much of my breasts before my diagnosis. Then I had to debate amputating them from my body in order to save my life. I didn’t feel attached, and I haven’t really since the day I lost them 12 years ago. They are now a part of me, but not in the same way. To me they are a constant reminder of what I have endured, sometimes that gives me strength, sometimes that makes me sad. Let’s call it a love/hate relationship. But I am also proud when I look at my beautiful mastectomy tattoos across the scars where my nipples used to be. I am reminded of how and where I have persevered, for that I AM proud.
Q: Living Beyond Breast Cancer is an awesome resource for those in the fight against breast cancer and recovery. Can you share your thoughts on why you feel LBBC is such an impactful organization and support system?
Dana: I have been a part of Living Beyond Breast Cancer for the last 7 years. When I was diagnosed in 2010, finding resources to help me navigate through my diagnosis were nearly non-existent. I was isolated, and I felt utterly alone. LBBC steps in to provide trusted resources and a community of support to get through it all. I wished I had access to them when I was diagnosed, but I am happy to have them now and help to impact others through our hard work and dedication to the community.
If you’re interested in trying out some of our favorite AnaOno bra styles, check them out here.