Breast Cancer Awareness Month: Gina de Givenchy
In 2013, Gina de Givenchy was diagnosed with Breast Cancer, a life changing moment that challenged her mental and physical health. Following her diagnosis, she quickly realized that ‘retail therapy’ didn’t exist for the cancer patient. Every hat, scarf or turban she came across reminded her of her illness or a hospital gown, both depressing and un-relatable. 5 years later, she is now in remission and has recently launched a brand of beautiful, fashion forward head wraps called GeeG created for people who crave beautifully made, stylish items that make them feel comfortable in their own skin again. We’ve partnered with GeeG for Breast Cancer Awareness Month to help promote the stories of survivors and the mission behind her brand. We sat down with Gina to hear her compelling story.
Tell us a little bit about your journey from diagnosis to remission.
I suppose my journey is the same in many ways to many others. One day I was a 46-year-old woman, wife, mother and dog owner. The next day I became a cancer patient, a wife that needed caring for, a mother of a preteen that needed me more than ever and a dog owner that belonged to “the club”. Life became a checklist of doctors appts, genetic testing, mastectomy, chemotherapy followed by years of reconstructive surgery. I worried about how all of this would affect my daughter, so it was important for me to demystify this disease and all that comes along with it.
It was a long year of treatment and I think in some ways, I’m still recovering mentally even after several years. I am very lucky. My breast cancer was found early – stage 2A. Dealing with hair-loss and a new body is a challenge to understand and an even bigger hurdle to overcome. I’m convinced that cancer has its way of either pushing you down or thrusting you forward…Once diagnosed, it’s impossible to remain static in life.
What were some of the changes you made following your diagnosis?
My cancer diagnosis has taught me so much. I am learning to embrace the things I can change instead of dwelling on the things I can’t. I live an honest life and it feels really good. On many levels, I felt like I had just been going through the motions of life rather than actually living it. I met the most amazing people during my treatment…people that inspired me by giving back and making a difference for others in need. I realized how little I was contributing on so many levels, and this needed to change. I got the courage to start my e-commerce company, GeeG, which is about fashion, style and beauty. We are blurring the lines between patient and person by making purposeful products for people.
Tell us more about how you came up with the idea to start GeeG.
For as long as I can remember, I wanted to start my own line of clothing. Once I felt like I was ready to make the leap, I was diagnosed. Going through treatment put this and everything else on hold, my focus was now on my health and well-being. I tried to really look better than I felt and turned to commence for help with scarves and beanies that were relatable to me. I had a ordered a beautiful wig but it was hot and itchy, and the question remained, what to wear the rest of the time? I was truly disappointed and discouraged with what I found.
So, seeing this enormous gap in the market place for people, like myself, in need of that perfect item at that never perfect time…a lightbulb went on. I think GeeG was just meant to be. So here we are…a company that creates purposeful products for people, blurring the lines between patient and person and offering all things cool, not clinical. It’s not about cancer…it’s about everything else that’s important…feeling good, feeling confident, even feeling pretty. It’s about surrounding oneself with beauty while giving back in some way. This is the pick-me-up that we all need.
To that point, with every purchase, we donate a portion of every sale to our partnered non-profit organizations that are making amazing changes for families struggling with the financial fall-out of cancer due to medical bills. We are very serious and very happy when we say as we grow, our give grows.
What’s your one key piece of advice for people out there who are currently being treated?
Stay positive…Allow yourself one day a week to be sad, be angry, scream or cry…then look forward to the next 6 days of letting go of those negative feelings and emotions. You’d be amazed at how much this helps both mentally and physically. Taking your emotions out of the equation really allows you to listen to your body and nurture yourself in a positive, healthy way.
Drink tons of water.
AND remember, your hair WILL grow back!
What’s your advice to those who know someone going through treatment?
Be present. Act as you normally would. Show up and just be there…but don’t stay too long. For me, going through treatment was a very lonely experience. Talk about anything and everything that’s normal and not illness related. Bring a ‘feel good, pick me up’ present…something pretty and purposeful. Something that reminds their friend that beauty is still around them.
How has your lifestyle changed since?
I appreciate everything time has given me. I live more in the moment and take just one day at a time. As cliché as that sounds, it’s the truth. I am more connected to the people in my life.
Tell us more about what you’re doing to stay healthy.
I’d like nothing more than to list all the ways I’ve changed my eating habits and work out program for the better, but this is a challenge. For the first couple of years after treatment, I was diligent but slowly, I’ve slipped back into old habits. This is something that is forever a challenge but a must. Now that business is in full swing, it’s time to refocus on working out…a goal I’m forever shooting for.
Tell us about the GEEG x Immunocologie collaboration.
It’s amazing how certain things just happen. I felt connected to Karen from the moment I met her and fell in love with Immunocologie. Our goals, ideas and business philosophy are very similar…beauty and fashion, women helping women…it’s a perfect fit.