Surviving in Style

In September of 2014 (shortly after my 40th birthday), I felt a small lump in my breast. Convincing myself it was "just a cyst," I was devastated when doctors confirmed my worst fears, and I was diagnosed with Stage IIB triple-negative breast cancer. Still in shock, I met with my new oncologist to figure out my game plan and looked ahead to a long year of chemotherapy, surgeries and radiation. During my second round of chemo, I ran my hand through my hair and clumps came out. I started crying. Soon, my boyfriend finally shaved my head. I closed my eyes and cried as my remaining hair fell around me. The next day, I felt FREE. It was finally over. With a background in fashion, I was determined to keep my style sense throughout treatment. Wanting to look more natural, I never wore my wig. Instead, I had fun experimenting with scarves during chemo and received lots of compliments. Cancer took many things from me, but I wouldn't let it take my style! I wanted to create a resource to assist other breast cancer survivors in keeping their sense of style during treatment, and Survivor Moda was born. Survivor Moda both empowers breast cancer survivors to survive in style & provides breast cancer information and resources. While still in radiation treatment, I created a seatbelt pillow to comfort my chest for the car rides to and from the hospital (and have used it daily ever since!). A fellow breast cancer survivor pal was due to have surgery, and I made one for her as a gift before she was admitted. She excitedly said, "I didn't even know I needed this!" I assured her although she may not have known it, she would be glad to have it when she left the hospital. After seeing her response and incorporating feedback from other breast cancer survivors, I created The ParkPuff, a portable, stylish, chest-comforting seatbelt pillow for breast cancer patients. After more than a year of 15 chemotherapy rounds, three surgeries and 32 radiation treatments, I'm thankful to officially be declared cancer-free!
Rachel Park
Los Angeles, CA