Tabby's Story: My Personal Journey
In October 2013 what I thought was an infected bug bite turned out to be my worst nightmare. Within a week of my first doctor’s visit, I found myself getting a port put in and undergoing chemo for Stage IV TNBC (triple negative breast cancer). I chose to put my trust in my cancer team and take on very aggressive treatment. After chemo, radiation, five surgeries and 21 long months I found made it to remission.
During my treatment, I reconnected to a high school friend who lived across the street growing up, Kristen Richardson Airhart. Her mother, Becky passed away a year prior also with TNBC. Kristen answered a ton of questions for me even though I knew it must have been painful for her. After a few conversations, she mentioned her interest in developing a sports bra line for post-mastectomy women to ease the process of finding a good sports bra. I voiced some of the same concerns –– all the bras I had found were hot, scratchy, and painful to wear and everyone seemed to hit the scar line from lymph node removal, which was very painful and causing scar tissue buildup.
When Kristen told me she was starting Barola, and designed a prototype called the “Tabby,” I literally cried –– I was so overwhelmed with emotion. She has made my struggle and fight somehow better. Offering to help in any way possible, I was excited to be a bra tester and give honest feedback. I filtered questionnaires through different private cancer groups to get feedback from women with radiation burns, scar tissue and other concerns many cancer patients face. She applied the feedback to her design to make sure the material was not only moisture wicking, but antibacterial and soft for ultimate comfort. Barola’s final designs were a success and provided the extra support I needed to shape my ever-changing breasts, and the zipper helped ease the dexterity of the chemo-induced neuropathy in my hands.
Attitude and emotion is everything when you battle cancer. Often so many women get down with all the struggles and side effects. Putting on a stylish, sexy sports bra lifts your spirits, helping you push through the daily activity. For me, treatment has been brutal on my body and it has been a painfully slow process to get back to an energized, active lifestyle –– I feel better in my “Tabby” and that is half the battle right there.