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Breast cancer

October marks the arrival of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and with that, we've compiled a guide on signs, symptoms and the importance of self-examination. 

More than 2,600 Irish women are diagnosed with breast cancer every year and figures suggest we have a one in 12 chance of developing the disease in our lifetime. 

Early diagnosis is key to breast cancer survival, and with 74 per cent of patients discovering the lump themselves, it's never too early to start self-examining. 

Signs and symptoms 

Women are encouraged to conduct a thorough breast examination at least once a month, and while we are all aware that lumps and bumps must be seen to by a doctor, there are some lesser-known symptoms that may indicate cancer in its early stages. 

These include changes to the size and shape of your breast, changes in the shape of direction of the nipple, and changes in texture and colour of your skin. 

As well as changes around the breast area, swelling or pain in your armpit and/ or around the collarbone, could be a sign of a underlying issue. 

For a full list of symptoms associated with breast cancer, visit cancer.ie

Risk factors 

While you can never fully protect yourself from a cancer diagnosis, there are certain risk factors that every woman should be aware of. 

Age, family history, and genetics all play a huge role in the potential development of breast cancer. As with many illness, your risk of breast cancer increases as you get older, and that risk is doubled if you've had one first-degree female relative (sister, mother, daughter) diagnosed with the disease. 

Being overweight, excess alcohol consumption and smoking have also been linked to an increased risk.


The earlier breast cancer is diagnosed, the easier it is to treat, which is why the Irish Cancer Society recommend that every woman get into the habit of checking her breasts on a regular basis. 

Take note of what is normal to you i.e. if your boobs often become tender or change in size around the time of your period, there should be no need for alarm. It's all about knowing your own body. 

When it comes to self-examination, it's best to stand in front of a mirror so you can view your breasts from different angles. Feel around for any of the changes noted above, and discuss any concerns with your GP. 


Treatment plans are designed on a case by case basis, with doctors deciding which course is right for you. 

There are are number of options available including surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy and drug therapies. 

When diagnosed early, breast cancer is an extremely treatable disease, with survival rates improving year on year. 

For more information on symptoms, risks, diagnosis and treatment, please visit www.cancer.ie


By Trina Cleary

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and ironically, on October 18, 2018 I was diagnosed with breast cancer – Stage 2 Invasive Ductal and Lobular.

I turned 34-years-old two weeks before my diagnosis. I thought I was too young. 

As did everyone else – because I assumed breast cancer was an older person's disease – not someone who was active, fit, didn't smoke, did not drink alcohol excessively and ate relatively well.

To say I was devastated was an understatement.

I cried – a lot, but then I decided I would not be overcome by this horrible, negative thing, and I chose to share my entire journey on my Instagram account. The good, the bad and the ugly because breast cancer is not the pretty pink ribbon with smiling models that it is portrayed to be. 

So, where did it all begin? In early 2018, I discovered a small, pea sized lump while self examining in the shower. It was movable, deep in the tissue, it rolled under my fingertips and felt like a piece of grizzle.

Nobody ever told me about the importance of self examination.  I just know that from a very young age, maybe early teens, it's something I did regularly. Maybe I overheard an adult conversation, maybe I heard or watched something on TV and it just stuck with me.

Early detection is vital. If I knew then what I know now I would have taken myself straight to the doctor and not waited five months.

So what did I do when I found this lump? I ignored it. I figured "it's just a girl thing" and figured it would just go, fear and naivety playing a factor here.

I continued my examinations in the shower, and still Larry the Lump remained. At times it was painful, it grew as the weeks went by. I was worried but brushed it off, again embarrassed,  afraid, uneducated.

I eventually went to the GP in August 2018. The lump had grown to a size where I could no longer ignore it. Visibly you could see a difference in the size of both my breasts, my bra was tighter on that breast, the skin stretched, my nipple had started to invert. Whenever I carried out my self examination I had that sinking feeling in my gut and I just knew. That gut feeling is rarely wrong.

My GP was very kind, he felt it was a cyst due to size, my age, lack of family history, the fact it was moveable at that time but referred me to get checked anyway. At that time it measured around 2.5 – 3 cm give or take. That's 2-3 cm growth in five months.

Waiting for my appointment was mentally exhausting. I only told a handful of people but didn't want to worry them with my concerns for fear they were just dismissed, but inwardly I was terrified.

I ended up having to take a week or so off work to try and sort through my own head. 

I was anxious, needy, clingy, irritable, paranoid, crying at the drop of a hat, insecure and totally negative during this wait. I felt like I didn't have my own head during that period. 

Outwardly you would never have known but inwardly my mind was in overdrive with what ifs? The waiting is almost worse than the diagnosis itself.

Fast forward to October 18, my first life changing appointment.

My mam and sister came with me and all the way to the hospital they kept saying; "It's just a cyst, it will be nothing". I kept quiet because I half had a feeling it wouldn't be that simple. That gut feeling again.

At the hospital, the first consultant thought it was a cyst but he sent me off for a mammogram just to be safe. They ended up doing an ultrasound because 35 is the recommended age for a mammogram, again, I was too young.

I was on that table all of five minutes and I was marched back for a mammogram. It was then I knew, I knew she saw something, I knew because she went to my armpit and immediately stopped. She had seen something here.

I. Just. Knew.

I had another ultrasound and then a biopsy on the lump I had originally found, as well as the newly found lump. The cancer had spread to my lymph node under my arm.

Tears fell from my face the entire time as my mam rubbed my head, the nurse rubbed my leg the entire time and were all so supportive. I couldn't feel anything, just pressure.

Once she was done, I asked why did she feel the need to do a biopsy. Her response: "Ask the question you really want to ask.” 

Both mum and I asked: "Is it cancer?"

Her reply was simply, “Yes.”

I felt my world crumble. I felt sick. I felt numb. I felt like it wasn't happening to me. Dream like. All the while thinking – Chemo, my hair, my son and I'm going to die.

I fell to the ground while my mam and my sister held me and we cried and cried and cried. We had the task of breaking the news to my dad, friends and family. And more tears followed.

I let the grief take over, it's part of the process to just start crying at the drop of a hat. To not sleep. To cry in your sleep. To not eat. There is no right or wrong way to deal with getting delivered this news.

You just have to feel the feelings and go with them. 

Dealing with a breast cancer diagnosis is not something anyone expects to go through, especially at the mere age of 34.

It's also not a dirty thing, a dirty little secret or anything to be ashamed of. 

Fast forward to one year and I’ve just passed my one year cancer anniversary. I finished up my treatment four weeks ago, after eight rounds of chemo, one lumpectomy, one mastectomy and 25 sessions of radiotherapy. 

I have been on holiday, I'm back training, I'm back driving and will be phasing back to work next month.

Cancer was certainly the worst thing that has happened to me but I vowed not to let it be a negative thing and to do my best to raise awareness around self check and early detection.

Many disagreed with my choice to be so vocal about it all. I feel that with social media being such a huge part of life now, what better way to raise awareness on such a taboo subject, remove some of the fear of the unknown, a subject, that the only real knowledge people have is what you see in films which isn't always a true representation.

Please, self check once a month, note any changes and take concerns to your GP. Don’t hesitate and brush it off as ‘just a girl thing’.

You can follow Trina’s journey on her blog and Instagram.



Codilia Gapare, a breast cancer survivor, has revolutionised the beauty industry by creating the first ever false lashes range for chemotherapy patients.

The mother-of-two was diagnosed with cancer in the UK in 2014 on the same day that she underwent an interview with the Manchester Metropolitan University.

While she was offered her dream place, she eventually had to drop out to focus on her chemotherapy treatment after struggling to balance her studies. She chose to use her spare time to create something truly special.

Image: IMAGE.ie

She initially had tried to ignore the diagnosis, but later had to face the illness head on after losing all of her hair.

"The mental battle caused me to become drained. I had two kids, I was a single mum, working two jobs. And that was my reality. I was so upset with myself for being sick. I was supposed to be realising my dream but instead, I felt like a failure," she explained.

Through this intensely difficult time in her life, she realised that there were no fake eyelash options for cancer patients.

She transformed her idea into an actual product, 'C Lashes', and partnered with beauty brand Eylure. The company have since released the range in Boots stores, making the cosmetic industry more accessible for women with cancer.


A post shared by Codilia Gapare (@c.lashbycody) on

In an interview with metro.co.uk, she describes how the lashes are designed with a larger, more flexible adhesive band and a bigger surface area to help them stick to the eyelid, and this makes the whole process far easier for women with little-to-no eyelashes.

Colidia wanted to make something that would help cancer patients feel like themselves again, and recalled how hard it was for her to lose her hair;

"Being black, we always play with our hair. Losing my hair was a big deal. No one talks about how much hair you lose though. I lost my eyelashes, eyebrows, pubes, underarm hair."

Colidia came from Zimbabwe to the UK when she was 26-years-old to pursue her ultimate dream of becoming a lawyer, so a full-time business model wasn't exactly planned. Especially after spending years working and studying to apply for university.


A post shared by Codilia Gapare (@c.lashbycody) on

The 41-year-old Cheshire resident chose to drive three hours away to her law degree interview after being given her cancer diagnosis, and she NAILED it. What a woman.

She found a lump in her breast in July 2014, and confirmed the illness just a month later. "Mostly, I was in denial," she told Metro.co.uk.

"I really convinced myself I wasn’t ill, I was totally unprepared. I didn’t even tell anyone I was going to my interview but I didn’t even think about cancelling it. ‘For me going ahead with the interview was going ahead with my life."


A post shared by Codilia Gapare (@c.lashbycody) on

She continued; "But I wasn’t prepared to lose my lashes."

"When my lashes started to thin out, I bought fake ones, but I struggled because it took off all the remaining hair. I didn’t do it for attention, I just wanted to feel like myself. I just wanted to be me again."

Codilia's life has gone up and up since then; she was offered a scholarship through support network Women in Business to study a masters in Business Admin at the same university.

H​​​aving received the all-clear from the disease at her latest check-up, Codilia is now in the final year of her studies in Manchester. What an UNREAL gal.

The lashes come in three different styles including 'Naturals', 'Lengthening', and 'Volume', and can be bought on boots.ie for just €7.49 now.

Feature image: Instagram/@c.lashbycody


Holy Moly.

In case any of y'all have been residing under a prominently sized ROCK, you'll be aware of the drama llama surrounding Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie's much-publicised divorce.

The pair haven't been seen each other's company since they announced their break-up back in September 2016, but yesterday they were sighted together inside of a Los Angeles office.

Don't bother speculating about if they're reconciling, that ship has long sailed. She's across many oceans by now. The duo were simply hammering out remaining deets of their divorce.


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The exes have six gorgeous children together; 17-year-old Pax, 14-year-old Maddox, 13-year-old Zahara, 12-year-old Shiloh and 10-year-old twins Knox and Vivienne.

How do they keep track of them all? It's a mystery to us. It's reported that the two are still trying to figure out their bitter divorce, but they've reached a final agreement over the custody of their six kids following over two years of negotiations.

Jolie's lawyer, Samantha Bley DeJean, confirmed that the former Hollywood 'It Couple' have signed and closed the lengthy legal battle, which means there won't be a need to go to trial.


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Samantha shared a statement to Reuters in December, writing;

"A custody arrangement was agreed to weeks ago, and has been signed by both parties and the judge. The agreement, which is based on the recommendations of the child custody evaluator, eliminates the need for a trial."

It is assumed that Brad has been given increased access to his children, and will be allowed to see them more frequently, including every other day for four hours on school days and 12 hours on a non-school day.

Image: CNN.com

One publication claims things got a bit heated between the pair, with Brad was reportedly pacing back and forth outside the office, while Angelina looking “visibly upset,” according to The Blast.

Brad and Angelina have struggled to see eye-to-eye since ending their relationship, and for more than a year after the split, Angelina had primary custody of the children.

Last year, a judge ordered Brad to be allowed more time with the children for their benefit.

There were reports of alcohol abuse from the actor but no evidence was provided. The former couple met on the set of Mr and Mrs Smith in 2005 and were inseparable ever since, until their official split two years ago.


Jael Strauss who was a contestant in season eight of America's Next Top Model has sadly passed away.

The 34-year-old model lost her battle to breast cancer, only two months after she was initially diagnosed. 

The model gained her wings in a hospice on Tuesday around 11 am.

Her health had begun to rapidly deteriorate on Monday, according to TMZ.


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Jael had informed fans that she had decided to stop chemotherapy in October. 

Heartbreakingly she said her cancer was "incurable" at stage four.

“I was gonna write some long thing but some of you guys deserve to know, On October 2nd I was diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer,” she wrote on Facebook.

“It has aggressively spread throughout my body and is incurable.”

“With treatment, it may prolong my life longer than the ‘few months’ doctors said I could make it. I don’t want to die. I need another one of those miracles that I got back in 2013,” she finished. 


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The model also penned her feelings about her first night in the hospice: “So many things I never knew about life. Or death. So many things.”

In a statement to TMZ, her family said that: “The one blessing was that we were able to show her how loved she was before she passed.” 

“She brought so much light to people,” they added.


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Before her untimely passing, Jael detailed that she was focused on rebuilding her life after being sober for five years. 

The model struggled with an addition to crystal meth but bravely overcame it.  

Tributes have been pouring in all over social media. 

Our thoughts are with her family at this incredibly difficult time. 


Yesterday was Daffodil Day, an important day where everyone bands together in a fight against cancer.

It seems like an easy way to boast awareness, wearing a bright yellow flower on your coat, right? 

Well as helpful as those donations are to cancer research, we should also be helping ourselves. 

According to Breast Cancer Ireland, 1 in 9 women will develop breast cancer in the course of their lifetime.

This brings us on to the discussion of checking our breasts – has to be done. 

We know we should do it, an a lot of us do, but do we do it correctly? 

Usually I just have a poke around, and decide I'm perfectly fine, and very quickly move on with my life. 

But there is a knack to checking your boobs, a knack we really all need to learn. 

There are 5 simple steps:

1. Begin by looking at your breasts in the mirror with your shoulders straight and your arms on your hips.

What are you looking for here? If you notice any of the following, you should consider going for a breast screening: Dimpling, puckering, or bulging of the skin, a nipple that has changed position or an inverted nipple (pushed inward instead of sticking out) or redness, soreness, rash, or swelling. 

2. Now, raise your arms and look for the same changes.

3. While you're at the mirror, look for any signs of fluid coming out of one or both nipples (this could be a watery, milky, or yellow fluid or blood).

4. Now, feel your breasts while lying down, using your right hand to feel your left breast and then your left hand to feel your right breast. Use a firm, smooth touch with the first few finger pads of your hand, keeping the fingers flat and together. Use a circular motion, about the size of a quarter.

Cover the entire breast from top to bottom, side to side, all the way from your collarbone to the top of your abdomen, and from your armpit to your cleavage.

5.  Finally, feel your breasts while you are standing or sitting. Many women find that the easiest way to feel their breasts is when their skin is wet and slippery, so they like to do this step in the shower. Cover your entire breast, using the same hand movements described in step 4.


Last week, the world lost the wonderful Emma Hannigan, who was an inspiration to people all over the world. 

Emma discovered that she was a carrier of the BRCA gene in 2005, and bravely battled cancer 10 times in a 12 year period. 

Sadly she lost her battle, but she was a massive supporter of cancer awareness charities.

And while we all know that the BRCA gene is a bad thing, we still don't really know what it is exactly. 

So, with the beautiful Emma in mind, we decided to do some research, and spread some awareness. 

Firstly, what exactly is the BRCA gene? 

According to cancer.ie, 'the BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations are inherited in a particular manner, which means that if a person has a mutation present in the gene, their offspring have a 50% chance of inheriting it.'

'Women who have a mutation in either of these genes have a 50–85% lifetime risk of developing breast cancer and a 10–40% lifetime risk of developing ovarian cancer. If either one of these mutations are found it carries an increased risk of a second breast cancer.'

What kind of family history is relevant to this gene?

Before I say anything, it is important not to panic if you identify with any of these family connections. If you're worried, call your GP nad go from there. 

It is important to note that not every person with breast cancer needs genetic testing. Individuals are tested for BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutation based on their genetic risk that assesses personal and family history factors, such as the following: 

  • Breast cancer diagnosed before age 50
  • Cancer in both breasts in the same woman
  • Multiple breast cancers in the same woman
  • Both breast and ovarian cancers in either the same woman or the same family
  • Two or more primary types of BRCA1- or BRCA2-related cancers in a single family member
  • Male breast cancer

If your family history is suggestive of a possible BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation, the best thing to do is first test the family member with the known breast cancer. If that person is found to have a BRCA mutation, then other family members should consider genetic testing to figure out their potential risk for breast and ovarian cancer.

If I am a carrier of the gene, what do I do? 

If you are diagnosed with the BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation, there are measures you can take to reduce your risk of breast and ovarian cancer, such as:

Screening for breast cancer:

  • Observe your breast for changes, starting at age 18
  • Have a clinical breast exam performed by your doctor or nurse every 6 to 12 months starting at age 25
  • Have a screening breast MRI annually, starting at age 25 or 30
  • Consider a 3D tomosynthesis mammogram

Reducing breast cancer risk:

  • Many women with the BRCA gene get a double mastectomy, which will reduce the chances of getting breast cancer. 
  • Consider risk-reduction medications.

Reducing ovarian cancer risk:

  • Much like the breasts, many carriers remove the ovaries and fallopian tubes at the end of childbearing age.
  • Annually screen for ovarian cancer with the use of blood test CA-125, and transvaginal ultrasound if recommended by your doctor, starting at age 30

Social media users have taken to Twitter in their droves to commend Julia Louis Dreyfuss's response to her recent cancer diagnosis.

The Veep star uploaded a short but poignant message to her Twitter account after learning that she had breast cancer.

Turning her attention to the millions of other women dealing with a similar diagnosis, the 56-year-old actress urged the public to work towards supporting them.

"1 in 8 women get breast cancer. Today, I'm the one," she began in a post which has been liked almost 400,000 thousands in less than 24 hours.

"The good news is that I have the most glorious group of supportive and caring family and friends, and fantastic insurance through my union. The bad news is that not all women are so lucky, so let's fight all cancers and make universal health care a reality."

Unsurprisingly, Julia's fans and followers have wasted no time showing their support for their star and paying tribute to her empathetic post.

Among the supporters are high-profile names including former vice-president Joe Biden, Hollywood producer Judd Apatow and Pitch Perfect star, Anna Kendrick.

"We Veeps stick together. Jill and I, and all of the Bidens, are with you, Julia." wrote Joe in a post which has been liked more than a quarter of million times.

"Sending you love and strength but it appears you beat us to it and are sending the world love and strength," Judd wrote in a tribute yesterday.

HBO, home to the award-winning Veep, have released a statement regarding Julia's announcement, beginning: "Our love and support go out to Julia and her family at this time."

"We have every confidence she will get through this with her usual tenacity and undaunted spirit, and look forward to her return to health and to HBO for the final season of Veep."


When it comes to checking our breasts, the vast majority of us search for lumps, dimpling or changes in our nipples, but how many of us stop to consider the potential implications of a newly formed freckle?

Aware that countless women would likely overlook the appearance of a freckle, Rebecca Hockaday is determined to highlight the importance of considering freckle formation when checking your breasts.

Speaking to Today, Rebecca recalled thinking little of the newly-formed freckle, saying: "I thought, OK, a freckle on my chest. I’ve been out in the sun, no big deal."

However, when more freckles began to appear on her chest, Rebecca made the decision to seek the advice of a dermatologist. but remained confident the freckles were little to worry about and was understandably devastated to learn she had inflammatory breast cancer which had already spread to her lymph nodes.

"Honestly, I thought they were sun spots. I thought they were going to say 'just your skin ageing," she said. “Never in a million years did I think, OK, this is going to be cancer."

It's five years on from Rebecca's treatement which saw her undergo 16 weeks of chemotherapy, the removal of both her breasts and regular radiation treatment, but she is happily cancer-free.

Rebecca, who was 35 when she was diagnosed, understands how innocuous a freckle might seem to most women, and is determined to educate women on the subject.

"You just do not think that something (that looks) so innocent can turn out this way. I had no pain, I had no symptoms,” she said. If I can keep anybody else from going through what I went through, it would mean the world to me."

"I hope that myself or anybody else who has gone through this can educate and raise awareness because moms tend to put ourselves last and we really need to put ourselves first."

For more information, click here.


Olivia Newton-John has revealed to her fans that she has been diagnosed with breast cancer.

The 68-year-old recently had to cancel her Canadian tour due to back pain, but in a statement released last night, her manager said that "turned out to be breast cancer that has metastasized to the sacrum."

Image result for olivia newton john

The statement read: "Olivia Newton-John is reluctantly postponing her June U.S. and Canadian concert tour dates.

"The back pain that initially caused her to postpone the first half of her concert tour, has turned out to be breast cancer that has metastasized to the sacrum.

"In addition to natural wellness therapies, Olivia will complete a short course of photon radiation therapy and is confident she will be back later in the year, better than ever, to celebrate her shows.

Olivia added: "I decided on my direction of therapies after consultation with my doctors and natural therapists and the medical team at my Olivia Newton-John Cancer Wellness and Research Centre in Melbourne, Australia."

The Grease superstar was previously diagnosed with the disease in 1992. 

We wish her a speedy recovery.


An 18-year-old has designed a bra that can detect the signs of breast cancer.

The Mexican teenager impressed scientists and won the top prize at the Global Student Entrepreneur Awards for his design, which seeks to alert women of breast cancer before it progresses.

Julian Rios Cantu designed the bra, which is called EVA, and is fitted with around 200 biosensors that monitor changes in temperature, weight and the shape of your boobs.

For example, if the bra detects a higher temperature in the chest it could suggest that there's a greater blood flow to the area, possibly made by a tumour.

"As soon as there is a malformation in the breast or a tumour, there is an over-vascularisation; so the more [flow of] blood, the higher the temperature," Julian told El Universal.

 "[It] allows us to have the breasts in the same position [so it can detect change] and it doesn’t have to be worn more than one hour a week."

Julian explained that he thought of the idea after his mother suffered from cancer and had to have both of her breasts removed.

The student won a $20,000 prize and beat out 13 other young entrepreneurs in the competition.



Raising awareness of breast cancer is a seriously important cause, and one lingerie brand at NYFW made it their mission to do just that. 

Lingerie and loungewear specialist Ana Ono, who describe themselves as catering for people with "two breasts, one breast, no breasts or new breasts," chose models for their latest show who had survived or were currently battling breast cancer.

The choice of these models made for a striking show which raised awareness of the disease as the images were shared across the globe. 


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The show featured 16 amazing women from various backgrounds who showed off both the underwear and their cancer scars. 

Designer Dana Donofree, the brainchild behind Ana Ono, is a breast cancer survivor herself, and decided that it was time to create a pretty but functional line of surgery and mastectomy bras for women suffering from breast cancer.

"We dress women with unilateral and bilateral mastectomies, with or without reconstruction. We clothe women in lush Recovery Wear™ and loungewear with a unique drain management system so from the moment they step out of surgery and enter treatment, they feel comfortable, feminine and beautiful," reads a statement on the Ana Ono site."


A post shared by Ericka Hart, M.Ed. (@ihartericka) on

"From there, we offer patented Radiation Wear specifically designed to avoid areas of the skin that often get burned or scarred and chafe during treatment. And with a collection of post-op bras and wirefree bralettes, we are making a difference to be there with these women on every step of her journey for the rest of her life."

Proceeds from the Ana Ono show were also donated to the non-profit organisation Cancerland, which works to encourage women to live well while dealing with their disease. 

Not only did the show raise breast cancer awareness on a high fashion platform, but it also made a statement to women suffering from breast cancer that there is no shame in having scars. 


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One of the models, body positivity activist Erika Hart, took to Instagram before the show to express her delight in being included.

"I want to say this is a dream come true, but really it's a dream I gave up on many moons ago."


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"Leaned into the often vocal thoughts that I was ugly, flat footed (yes someone told me this), not the right this or that to be a model. So, I am walking this weekend for the folks who have been told they couldn't," she said.

We seriously commend Ana Ono raising awareness, raising funds and empowering women who may feel that their disease holds them back from identifying as beautiful.