Helping women reclaim their femininity post breast cancer

Keira Kotler is the CEO/Founder of Everviolet, which is a lingerie and loungewear collection designed for women following treatment for breast cancer. Their mission is to make women feel comfortable and beautiful in their own skin again. Her amazing company is helping women reclaim their femininity post breast cancer.

Tell our readers a little about yourself:
I grew up in Boston and currently live in the San Francisco Bay Area. I have a wonderful husband, two kids and a dog, and we love exploring the hiking trails near our home. We also spend lots of time on the East Coast, where my parents and extended family still reside. My professional background is in e-commerce branding and marketing. I am also a professional artist who exhibits paintings and photo-based work throughout the US.
At the age of 40, I was diagnosed with breast cancer on a routine mammogram, with no known risk factors or family history. I was shocked. I underwent a bilateral mastectomy followed by implant reconstruction and navigated those surgeries as well as could be expected. In the end, though, I got lucky, for what my doctor’s initially suspected to be invasive cancer turned out to be early stage. This news meant that I required no further treatment, which was a huge blessing. Imagine my surprise, then, when getting dressed in the morning became one of my greatest challenges. My old lingerie no longer fit, and garments designed for after surgery were synthetic, scratchy and unattractive. The experience left me to feel very dehumanized. In a moment when all I wanted was to reclaim a part of myself, my womanhood, by adorning myself in something feminine, my options did the opposite – literally adding insult to injury.

I suffered in silence for a while, feeling guilty to even complain about garments when others were fighting for their lives. But when I finally started speaking with other women, I discovered that this issue was universal. The women I spoke with – both those with breast cancer survivors as well as women facing a myriad of other conditions – all claimed there was no intimate apparel brand to meet their ongoing needs. So, I founded Everviolet with the mission to help women feel comfortable and confident following body changes, enabling them to feel like people first and patients last.

Who is someone you admire and why?
This might sound a little strange, but I admire women. Women have the capacity to take on multiple challenges and tasks simultaneously, and the strength women exude in the face of darkness is extraordinary. At this point in my life, I don’t know any individual who hasn’t gone through an unexpected hard time. And each one has emerged stronger, more light-filled and more resilient. There are so many individuals I could name, but in this moment, it feels most resonant to celebrate femininity as a whole and all the fabulous female humans out there.

We have all faced challenges in our life and struggled to find light in the dark times. How have you been able to find your firefly through the darkness?
Thankfully, throughout dark times of my life, I have been fortunate to be in a place where I could always say “things could be worse.” Even amidst challenging health moments, I would look around and realize that there were things to be grateful for. Practicing gratitude has a remarkable way of focusing us on the positive aspects of our lives vs. dwelling on the negative, and I believe this process changes our mindset and approach to healing. Of course, I have had my dark moments as well, but by shifting perspective and literally writing down the good things present amidst the bad, I have been able to pull myself through.

What would be your once piece of advice for other women who are facing challenges and struggling to find their way through it?
Feel everything that’s going on around and inside of you. All of it is valid and important. Feel the fear, the sadness, the loss, the anger, the anxiety as best you can, and allow your body to release into those emotions. Write them down, talk to a therapist, punch a pillow – do anything you need to fully surrender and honor what’s going on inside. Then, go to a place that brings you calm, and try to find some positives in your situation. Is a partner, friend or family member showing up in a way you didn’t expect? Have you found qualities in yourself you didn’t know existed prior to this experience? Have you met some amazing people because of this challenge? Is your body persevering, even though it’s being tested? I’ve been through enough challenges and witnessed so many others’ bouts with illness to know that there are always silver linings to discover. Try to find them and hold them close.

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