I am a designer from a family of artists who moved to the US for love and became an entrepreneur. My first company is the NYC-based award-winning architectural design studio Asthetique. My second company Ameōn is a skincare company born after my recovery from breast cancer.
Upon diagnosis, what was your first thought?
It was so shocking when the doctor called that I was numb and couldn’t process it at first. Breast cancer isn’t something I thought was even a remote possibility so I hadn’t given it anything thought before my diagnosis and wasn’t ready to understand what it meant. The cancer was aggressive so we had to start treatment right away which meant there wasn’t much time to overthink things. Once treatment started I just listened to my doctors, took strength from the support of my husband, and put one foot in front of the other.
Sometimes it’s hard to “thrive,” we all have days where we are just trying to survive. What is something that gets you through on the hardest days?
First and foremost, I am grateful to be alive. Not many years ago my cancer diagnosis would have been a death sentence. Willie Nelson has a song with a great lyric that my father-in-law loves to quote, “I woke up still not dead again today.” Willie’s right! The gift of life is the most precious gift we have. That’s why I’m so passionate about supporting breast cancer research. Also, when I’m feeling down I really look to my husband to cheer me up. He’s my rock.
Who is another woman you have admired on this journey that has shared a similar experience with breast cancer/cancer (please type what type of cancer you had/have)?
I had the great pleasure of meeting Kinga Lampert, Co-chair of the Board of the Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF). Her grace, intelligence, compassion, and dedication just blew me away. I was diagnosed with breast cancer at 30 and Kinga at 31. After her recovery, Kinga dedicated her life to working with BCRF. I found that so inspiring, and BCRF is such a wonderful organization, that my skincare company Ameōn partnered with BCRF to help find a cure.
We all need a good support system; who makes up yours?
My husband, mother and grandmother, in-laws, and our dog Boris are my foundation. I’m also blessed to have two wonderful business partners, Julien in Asthetique and Roman in Ameōn.
Through your journey, what are some resources you have found that would be helpful to other women?
It is critically important to have a good connection with your doctors. That includes your oncologist, surgeon, and plastic surgeon. The relationship with your oncologist is the most important because you’ll be together for years so find someone who you feel comfortable with and who you know cares deeply about you as a person. I’ve been blessed to have that and it’s made all the difference in the world. It also really helps to get involved to make a positive impact. Supporting the Breast Cancer Research Foundation has helped me heal.
What is something society gets wrong about young women battling breast cancer and cancer in general?
There’s an idea that if you’re diagnosed with breast cancer young you must have the BRCA gene. I was diagnosed at 30 and don’t have it. 1 in 8 women in the US will develop breast cancer during their lifetime. That’s a mind-blowing statistic and it means that every woman needs to take her breast health seriously. Do self-exams regularly and go to the doctor regularly. If something doesn’t feel right always ask a medical professional because the sooner you start treatment the better your prognosis.
You come across another woman who has just received her diagnosis. What is one piece of advice you’d have for them at that moment?
Take a deep breath, bring your loved ones close and take it one step at a time. You can do this.
Because we have to (we love music here) - what’s the last song you listened to?