In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Bernardo is honored to introduce our inspirational campaign, “Vested in Hope.” This powerful initiative is a testament to the strength, resilience, and hope that unite survivors, thrivers and anyone affected by a breast cancer diagnosis. Together, we can make a difference.
Through the lens of Mia Purdy, a Toronto-based survivor and extraordinary photographer, we embark on a visual journey that captures both her inspiring self-portraits and those of three passionate advocates for Living Beyond Breast Cancer: Nancy Herard-Marshall, Sonya Keshwani and Chelsey Pickthorn. The campaign aims to tell their inspiring stories of navigating breast cancer, highlight their indomitable spirit and provide a better understanding of a breast cancer diagnosis.
Their stories illuminate the path toward hope, support and empowerment.
Shop for a Cause
At the heart of this campaign is our Breast Cancer Awareness Reversible Puffer Vest, a Bernardo Exclusive, designed in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. This vest is a symbol of warmth, comfort and unity - a wearable embodiment of hope.
Every purchase of the vest contributes to our unwavering commitment to the cause. Bernardo will donate 100% of the proceeds to Living Beyond Breast Cancer, an organization that provides vital support, education, and advocacy for those navigating the complexities of breast cancer.Shop the vest
Stories of Hope:
Nancy Herard-Marshall is a mother, wife, former dancer/actress, teacher, therapist, and healer, who uses her various life experiences to empower others and foster their healing.
In 2013 Nancy was diagnosed with DCIS and completed aggressive treatment. However, in 2020, during the COVID 19 pandemic, she was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer. Although navigating the diagnosis has been challenging, Nancy has continued to wear her many hats while showing up for herself, her family, and her community. Before her metastatic breast cancer (MBC) diagnosis, she maintained a private practice as the proprietor of Gaya Healing Arts, where she provided services to her community as a psychotherapist, dance/movement therapist, authentic movement practitioner, and Ra Sekhi Kemetic Reiki practitioner. Nancy utilizes artistic, contemporary, and ancestral healing techniques as emotional support to Black, Indigenous, and all people of color from a culturally affirming therapeutic approach. As a patient advocate, Nancy is an LBBC 2021 Hear My Voice alumni, a member of Komen’s MBC Steering Committee, and a Grasp Advocate.
Sonya Keshwani is the founder of StyleEsteem Wardrobe. As a breast cancer survivor, she experienced the challenges of losing her hair to chemotherapy at the young age of 29. Frustrated with the limited options available for head coverings, she created her own solution. Sonya drew from her love of fashion and began experimenting with different fabrics and her sewing machine during her chemotherapy sessions. Inspired by the elegant and feminine silhouette of the turban, she launched StyleEsteem Wardrobe, the first fashion label to design headwear according to the season and occasion. StyleEsteem’s mission is to empower every person through fashion, no matter where their hair journey takes them. Today, StyleEsteem’s designs are featured on runways and in the media globally, as well as on notable celebrities. However, Sonya’ s vision for StyleEsteem extends far beyond fashion.
As Sonya continues to build her brand in the fashion industry, StyleEsteem’s Grace with Style initiative supports a vast patient community through beauty and mental health programming, and turban donations. With a history dating back as far as 4,000 years, Sonya believes that turbans can be a symbol of empowerment and self-expression for everyone, regardless of their gender , cultural background, or hair journey.
Having gone through a cancer diagnosis, I know first-hand how dark and isolating the experience can be. The last straw is when hair loss takes away your connection to your identity. For me, that’s where the idea of StyleEsteem comes in. It is a reminder that no one thing can define your life story and that your turban can be your superhero cape.
When we launched our Couture Collection at New York Fashion Week, we celebrated the significance of headwear history with designs that honored cultures and religions across the globe. We heard from so many of our StyleEsteem Queens about how this collection made them feel seen and celebrated. How it gave them a sense of pride that their lives had been touched by headwear. It made them feel like their hair journey was about more than just cancer, it was about their own story, their own history. Seeing the impact of these innovative collections inspires us to keep pushing the envelope, and to work toward eliminating the gaps between fashion, cancer and the woman herself.
Originally from Portland Or. Chelsey divides her time between NY and Sonoma. As a 4th generation breast cancer survivor currently living with triple-negative metastatic disease, she actively incorporates a holistic approach with conventional medicine at Memorial Sloan Kettering in NYC. Chelsey’s original diagnosis at thirty-three proved the importance of lifestyle alterations. She actively incorporates conscious consumption, a personal self-care routine, the elimination of negative energy, and the mitigation of stress. She attributes her current status of NED to her merging beliefs of finding a balance between Eastern and Western medicine.
Chelsey began her career in hair design at the young age of 18. She committed her entire life to actualizing her dreams. With a metastatic diagnosis at the age of 35, she couldn’t deny what the universe was pushing her toward, advocacy. She is extremely passionate about access to equal care and information, medical trials, and holistic adjunctive treatments. As a member of the LGBTQ+ community, Chelsey believes we need to have hard conversations with an open dialogue. She intends to share her life experiences with the world in hopes to dissolve the preconceptions of what “sick” looks and feels like.
Mia PurdyCampaign photographer
Mia Purdy is a mom, photographer, breast cancer rebel and advocate based in Toronto, Canada. She loves documenting relationships and connection; showing raw, authentic portraits.
In August 2020, two days after turning 36, Mia was diagnosed with breast cancer. Mia’s path included a single mastectomy, which successfully eradicated the tumor and marked the beginning of her battle against the disease. This path led her to make profound choices, such as undergoing hormone therapy, the surgical removal of her ovaries and fallopian tubes, inducing an early onset of menopause, and ultimately, a second mastectomy. Mia’s decision to embrace a flat, reconstruction-free aesthetic closure was a powerful testament to her unwavering strength and self-acceptance.
Photography has helped her heal more than anything else on this journey. Self portraits and photo sessions with other photographers have helped her see beyond her scars, beyond her diagnosis and connected her with people worldwide who are dealing with similar issues. She shares her story, her scars, and herself as much as she can, reminding others to know their body and the importance of advocating for their health.
After being diagnosed with breast cancer, my treatment plan was surgery first. I had about 2 weeks to decide what surgery I’d like to do. I had wanted a double mastectomy and thought I would have reconstruction at some point. I couldn’t do it all in one surgery like others do because I didn’t have time to organize that. So I was to move forward with a single or double mastectomy first, with reconstruction later.
My husband and I decided to Google images of mastectomy scars to see what my body may look like after. While my husband was fine with whatever decision I made, when I saw those photos I had a panic attack. The images were cold, clinical and of women much older than me. It was hard to find photos of younger people showing the scars I would have. In the end, I chose a single mastectomy. After surgery, I felt horrible about myself. I could barely look at my scar or my reflection in the mirror. My friend suggested we take photos to show my scar, to document my body at this stage. I was all for it, even though I hated how I looked. I thought these photos will be for others, not for me.
However, when I saw the photos, I burst into tears. I didn’t see the ugly, scarred, weird looking woman I had been envisioning. I saw me. Scarred, yes. Ugly? No! I felt beautiful. I honestly could barely believe it. I didn’t see that coming - the self acceptance, self love. Doing that first photo shoot and seeing myself through my friends’ eyes helped me heal more than anything else I’ve done since my diagnosis.
So I continue to document my body and share myself with others. Hopefully they’ll see my photos instead of the clinical ones when they look up images of mastectomy scars.
ABOUT LIVING BEYOND BREAST CANCER:
Living Beyond Breast Cancer is a national nonprofit organization that seeks to create a world that understands there is more than one way to have breast cancer. To fulfill our mission of providing trusted information and a community of support, we offer on-demand emotional, practical, and evidence-based content that is meaningful to those newly diagnosed, in treatment, post-treatment, and living with metastatic disease.