After surviving a breast cancer diagnosis at age 27, Anna Crollman made the decision to help other young women facing the disease and treatment by starting a blog, My Cancer Chic.
Through mycancerchic.com, Crollman has worked for more than two years to help young women grappling with chemo-induced hair loss, post-mastectomy body image and a host of other issues.
Now, Crollman is taking her message of survivor chic to one of the biggest stages in the fashion and beauty world – New York Fashion Week. On Feb. 11, Crollman will join other breast cancer survivors modeling in the AnaOno #Cancerland fashion show, wearing loungewear and intimates created especially for women who have survived the disease. The show will be emceed by Academy Award-winning actress Mira Sorvino.
“Last year I watched the #Cancerland X AnaOno fashion show on Facebook Live and sobbed tears of joy,” Crollman says. “The power and pride of seeing women who looked like me, and knew what I have been through, walk the runway greatly impacted me.”
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Crollman struck a friendship with AnaOno founder (and breast cancer survivor) Dana Donofree when the two attended a Young Survival Coalition Summit in 2016. Donofree asked Crollman to join her show this year.
While fashion certainly drives the event, the show is about so much more than clothes.
“The show was recognized worldwide and helped draw attention to the realities of metastatic breast cancer—the only kind of breast cancer that kills,” Crollman says. “Breast cancer is more than pink ribbons and 5ks – it is real women like me dying in their 20s, 30s and 40s.”
That’s a fact Crollman knows all too well. Just days before she was invited to model in the show, she lost a friend to the disease, a young woman in the prime of her life.
“If (my friend) Melissa taught me anything, it was to punch fear in the face and never give up hope – life is too short to live with insecurity or self-doubt,” Crollman says. “I felt like walking in the show would be the perfect opportunity to continue Melissa’s legacy of hope and empowerment for thousands of women living with breast cancer around the world. I want them to know they are not alone, and they can feel beautiful and sexy after cancer.”
Getting to that point of self-love has been a journey for Crollman. And as she walks the runway, she hopes other women watching will be inspired to love their new selves, too.
“When I was bald and breastless during chemo, I struggled to find self-confidence,” she says. “I felt ugly and betrayed by my body. It was hard to look myself in the mirror and accept that the same person was inside. After two-and-a-half years of therapy, exercise, healthy eating and a dedication to self-love I have come to a place where I love my body. Not because it’s perfect or ‘model like,’ but because it is strong. I am proud of my body for all it has gotten me through. I am grateful for my body and the strength I have rebuilt. I am proud of my resilience, and my scars that remind me every day of the obstacles I have overcome.”
Cute Buttons Gift and Paper Boutique in Morrisville invites brides-to-be to check out the latest wedding stationery and accessories at their Bridal Sip and See, Feb. 11, 1-4 p.m. Attendees can enjoy treats from Raleigh Cake Pops and a braid bar from Parlor Blow Dry Bar Cary. Neighboring shops Pink Magnolia Boutique and Paintbase will also hold coinciding events. Visit shopcutebuttons.com/store-events to register.
StyleFinder Boutique in Raleigh celebrates women this week with their Galentine’s Day party, Feb. 14, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Shoppers will receive roses, chocolates and Champagne, plus a goodie bag with purchase. For more info, call 919-454-3068.
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