It's been more than a year since Chattanooga native and star of TLC's Say Yes to the Dress: Atlanta Lori Allen has been breast cancer free. She celebrated her success last month with thousands of other Chattanooga area survivors as a Komen Race for the Cure Honorary Co-Survivor Chair.
Although Allen can now get back to swimming and her faith is stronger than ever, she says the memories of the sometimes dark but also hope-filled moments of her experience are as vivid as if it had just been yesterday.
Do you still have connections to Chattanooga?
Yes, I was born in Chattanooga and I have lots of friends and relatives from Chattanooga.
What does your day to day look like while filming for Say Yes to the Dress: Atlanta? What is your favorite thing about filming ?
It is crazy. First I arrive at about 9:30 a.m., and then I go straight into hair and makeup. Monte (fashion director at Bridals by Lori) and I are sequestered until we are called onto the floor. We are then thrown into the mix and have to figure out the storyline, the problems and a solution. I love it! My favorite thing is that I get to use my knowledge and years of experience-it keeps me on my toes. I love helping others.
What is the most challenging part about filming and owning a bridal boutique in general?
The most challenging is family-the dynamics and trying to get everyone to agree. In owning a bridal salon, my most challenging thing is trying to balance it all. Now with filming so much, my store and staff still need me.
What are the trends for bridal wear this season?
This season's trend is coverage. No more strap-less, but rather cap sleeves, keyhole backs, lace straps-so pretty and elegant.
How long was your fight against breast cancer and what did you have to go through to finally defeat it?
I was diagnosed April 13, 2012 and my breast cancer fight lasted a year. It really took a year for me to finish surgeries, get strong again, etc. I had a double lumpectomy and then on July 3 ended up having a double mastectomy. It didn't end there. I was still so sore and tight, and after several months of physical therapy I started feeling better.
What is something that would surprise most people about battling breast cancer?
You will be amazed at how strong you are. I always thought if something terrible happened to me I would be so weak. I was wrong. I am strong and my faith made me strong.
Describe your darkest moment during the process of battling breast cancer as well as your brightest moment.
The darkest moment had to be the day I got the phone call. It was so scary, so unexpected and I was so uncertain about my future. The brightest moment was planning a vacation with my family eight weeks after my mastectomy and really enjoying the time spent with my loved ones.
What is something you had to give up during the fighting process that you now get to do again?
I had to give up swimming. I love to swim. I wanted to jump in the pool! Now I swim as much as I can and I appreciate it.
What are your plans for the future now that the threat of breast cancer is behind you?
To keep filming Say Yes to the Dress: Atlanta, to keep helping others, to keep running my business, to keep enjoying every moment with my family and to live!
What advice do you give to others who are currently undergoing treatment for breast cancer?
Hang in there. Plan a trip, pamper yourself-give yourself something to look forward to. Don't be afraid to ask others for help.
What helped you the most while you underwent treatment, surgery, etc.? What helped me most was my faith and the love and support of my family, friends and fans of the show. I was overwhelmed at the fan reaction to my show Say Yes to the Cure: Lori's Fight. I received thousands of letters, cards, flowers, prayer shawls-there are lots of good people in the world.