Dana Donofree, Founder of AnaOno: An Interview

AnaOno is a post-mastectomy lingerie & loungewear brand that knows the importance of community. They work hard to ensure that no woman going through diagnosis, treatment, or surgery feels alone. They’ve aligned with reputable organizations, including The Breasties, who share the same vision.

We had the chance to talk with Dana Donofree, the Founder of AnaOno. We’re honored to share her words of wisdom.

On AnaOno’s Mission:

AnaOno is more than a bra. Everything changes when someone is faced with a body altering surgery. We intentionally consider the whole person, not just their breasts. We know that feeling good about yourself can help you heal better, both physically and emotionally, and that is why having something that perfectly fits your post-surgical body, something as simple as a bra, is important to your everyday life. By offering a beautiful range of comfortable and attractive bras, loungewear, activewear, and swimwear, we empower others that have undergone breast surgery, often related to a cancer diagnosis, to feel beautiful and confident as they head out to conquer the world! 

On AnaOno’s Product Selection:

We focus our collections on Recovery and Reclaiming, and this can come in many forms. Our Recovery Collection is all about supporting a patient through their initial diagnosis or breast surgeries. We have a loungewear program that helps patients manage their drains following their mastectomy or tissue removal; front closure bras to make dressing easier when faced with limited range of motion; and super soft and comfy bras that keep the patient comfortable while undergoing oncology treatments like radiation therapy, that can leave skin incredibly sensitive. Our Reclaim Collection is about reclaiming your body, mind and heart. Celebrating a new you! Looking good, feeling comfortable, and even feeling sexy with a beautiful set of lingerie. A bra and matching panties can be a positive foundation for the day. We also have swimwear collections that are designed for those with one breast, two breasts, or none at all. Everyone can feel confident at the beach or poolside! We also offer sports bras for those using breast forms while staying active. 

On Shopping for AnaOno:

All of our collections are available online at AnaOno.com. We are also excited to announce that many hospital centers and specialty stores across the U.S. carry our collections! We are also in select SOMA stores nationwide. All of our amazing store partners can be found via the store locator on our website. 

On Insurance Coverage:

So glad we get to cover this. YES!!!!! Most mastectomy patients and lumpectomy patients, DO NOT KNOW that their bras are covered by insurance after undergoing surgery. We have a great FAQ online to help patients navigate this aspect of their post-surgical care. Our pocketed bra collection is covered by the L8000 code, and a prescription can be taken to a local boutique or processed online through our DME partner. This gives patients options. They can use breast forms to accommodate the fullness of the missing breast, for balance after radiation or lumpectomy surgery leave asymmetry. We have nipple prosthetics if reconstruction is not an option or if nipples were not able to be conserved or built during the breast reconstruction process. As more health professionals understand this benefit to their patients, we can all make a difference in their recovery. We know that cancer is expensive and having what you need to recover is crucially important to overall health. 

On Being the Founder of AnaOno:

Founding AnaOno has been one of the scariest, most stressful, and most rewarding things in my life! I was scared at first. I was diagnosed with cancer and about to start a business! What was I thinking? It has been stressful, because launching a business is challenging enough. Doing it while undergoing cancer treatment is even harder. I wake up every morning, put my feet on the ground, and do something that I love. Even though it is hard, I am thankful. And it is so rewarding, because the people we meet, the clients we help, and the stories they tell reassure me that we are making a difference, and if I can make a difference in just one person’s life, it has made all this worth it!

On Being a Young Business Owner:

I am grateful that I have the opportunity to speak to the future of female founders. To empower them with my learnings from walking this road. To support other women making a difference in the world. We need more female founders to close the gender gap in the corporate world and if we can support and empower one another we have a far better chance at making the world a better place. 

On Self-Definition:

My name is Dana Donofree. I am a breast cancer badass. I get to live today for today. Breast Cancer came into my life when I was 27. It was 2010. I lost both of my breasts to the disease, I had 6 rounds of chemotherapy, a year of Herceptin, and 8 ½ years of suppressive hormonal therapy. It has been a long process, every day is cancer for me. I have lost many friends to metastatic breast cancer, and I advocate for change every day.  

On Diagnosis:

I felt blackness. Learning that the tiny little lump in my breast could kill me was the most frightening thing I have ever faced in my life. I thought I was healthy and young. How could this possibly happen to ME when I took care of myself? I was mad. Beyond angry. I felt guilty. I thought I did it to myself. Later I learned: it wasn’t me, it’s cancer. It happens, and we need to help fix it.  

On the Breast Cancer Journey:

My life with breast cancer feels long. I feel very thankful that I am looking forward to the 10-year mark next February, I know that makes me one of the lucky ones. Facing a breast cancer diagnosis as a young woman is very different than facing it later in life. I was forced to make decisions I wasn’t ready to make. Can I or do I want to have children? What will living on these medications for so many years do to my health down the line? Will my cancer come back?

I would like to say that cancer “goes away” but for me it doesn’t; it’s always there and I am always wondering. As a young woman and an advocate for young people with breast cancer, I know that this disease is deadly. Saying goodbye to amazing people and dear friends breaks my heart. While I have a voice it is important that I use it, because I hope that we can eradicate some of this before my beautiful nieces and nephews grow up and have to cope with their own risks. 

On Life After Cancer:

For me there is no “after” cancer. It is something I deal with every day. I have now learned to manage my own care in ways I had never dreamed. If I have an ache, a pain, a headache, I wait. I wait because everything that hurts in my body could be my body telling me that the cancer has spread. My body hurts from the treatments, my mind feels dull from the chemo brain, my aches and pains could be a sign of me getting older or they could be a sign of something way more serious. I have to manage this every day and determine when is the “right” time to call the doctor. That is living with breast cancer. 

On Getting Cancer Off Your Chest:

We brush a lot of the realities of breast cancer under the rug, because they are not pretty, and they are not “pink.” The reality of breast cancer is that we are no closer to cure and people are still dying at the same rate they have been for over 20 years. Treatment options are expanding, so instead of a median of 36 months, patients are living to 5 years, maybe even 10, 15, or 20, but the rate of metastatic breast cancer is still high. Every cancer diagnosis is different. We are learning more. Targeted therapies are getting better. But we are still losing over 40k lives a year. We have to be smart and direct the attention to where we need it—furthering our options to battle the disease, so we can keep the people we love here with us for as long as possible!

Visit here to wear your support for Dana and The Breasties. 20% of the proceeds will be donated to support their mission. 

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