In 2017, a few weeks after my 31st birthday, I was diagnosed with stage III triple negative breast cancer. My daughter was a year old at the time.
Before starting chemotherapy, I went searching for a shirt to wear to my treatments. I was looking for something fun and sassy and not pink, but still breast cancer related. I wanted something that motivated me to get out of bed in the morning, because let's be honest... chemo suuuuuuuucks! Long story short, I couldn't find what I was searching for. I ended up buying a run of the mill inspirational quote shirt and wearing that. But as an artist, I was inspired by that experience.
As I progressed through treatment and became more active in support groups, I began to take note of issues that were important to breast cancer patients, but weren't often discussed in society. Issues like pinkwashing, metastatic breast cancer, young breast cancer, and the beauty in going flat.
Then when it came time to look in the mirror at my breastless chest for the first time post (double) mastectomy (with no reconstruction), something happened that changed my life...
... even though I was looking in the mirror for the exact purpose of looking at my new breastless chest... I didn't even notice for a few seconds that they were gone... for the first time in my entire life, I realized that I was beautiful and breasts did not define my beauty.
In that moment, I was overcome with inspiration. I knew exactly what I needed to do with the thoughts and ideas that had been bouncing around in my head since that shopping experience; and the perfect name came to mind:
Emily + Empower + Powerhouse = EMPOWERHAUS
I went straight to my computer and opened an Etsy shop with that name. I had given this idea so much thought over the course of my treatment, and that was the light-bulb moment when I decided that it was time to take action on my ideas. I knew at that moment, that I could use my passion (art) toshine a spotlight on the issues I spoke about earlier, while empowering breast cancer patients to embrace and be proud of their new bodies.
Create compelling designs that honor, empower, and change society's perception of breast cancer "awareness"; by encouraging truthful, face to face conversations about what breast cancer is really like.
I've also become an advocate in the breast cancer and flat communities; founding the Facebook support group "Flatties Unite", the post mastectomy body positive movement #FLATAF™ and co-founding the 501(c)(3) nonprofit patient advocacy organization, Flat Closure NOW.
You can feel good purchasing from my shop or following/liking/commenting/sharing my advocacy work not only because you are contributing to my family's financial needs post-cancer treatment (I'm now disabled 😞), but you're also helping me further my mission of empowering breast cancer patients.