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A remarkable rollercoaster story of Wokie Lanier, a firm believer in the resilience, healing powers, and perseverance of human beings, a proud breast cancer survivor, and an entrepreneur with a special cause.

During my lifetime, I have endured and overcome numerous battles that drove me to support this cause. At 32, four months after saying “I do” I was diagnosed with breast cancer. After my diagnosis, I have undergone three surgeries, six weeks of radiation, and an unpredictable recovery process. I can express the physical and emotional torment I endured during the process for hours, but I refuse to. I choose to feel empowered through acknowledging my strength, persistence, and unwavering optimism in the face of adversity, and let that define my soul, personality, and journey.

All my life, I consistently reacted to setbacks through an attitude of fighting and overcoming. Having survived three Civil Wars during my time in Liberia and being a Refugee on Ivory Coast during the war, I realized that there is no limit to the obstacles life can send our way. However, I have always been the kind of person that sees opportunities where others solely detect problems, which has instilled an imperishable will in me to keep moving forward and reaching new horizons.

This is exactly how the idea of Pink Dove Co. was born – an online platform with a very special cause, inspired by my own personal battle with cancer.

Any breast cancer patient can tell you that during their treatment and recovery, they need comfortable clothing, headwear, and post-surgical accessories that cannot be found in one particle shop. After multiple procedures and radiation, my mobility became pretty limited and I was unpleasantly surprised how hard it is to find products that are able to provide me with the comfort and support that I sought.

I decided to fill in the gap by creating a line of products that meets the needs of many women like me. I vowed to make it all as affordable and as easily accessible as possible. Moreover, I deeply understand the emotional and psychological support needed during the process, which is why I established this special online destination, as a source of positive light and impact in the lives of cancer patients. It is a safe haven with a community that can keep the much-needed hope alive in the darkest of times.

My idea is already a reality – I launched the online platform Pink Dove Co.(www.pinkdoveco.com), which serves both as a meeting point of our growing support group of cancer patients and survivors, and as an e-commerce store. The store is dedicated especially to women who are going or have gone through a cancer diagnosis and I strongly believe that it has the potential to help millions of women.

On the webpage of Pink Dove Co., we have a special section called ‘Warrior Stories’ where members of our community publish their survivor stories and deliver hope and inspiration to women facing similar circumstances. Our community has women from all over the world, and they greatly benefit from the love, support, and advice provided by the group.

The process of going through something as life-altering as cancer is not solely physically challenging, but emotionally, and even at times socially. I believe it is vitally important to remember that our diagnosis does not define us, and it does not dictate how we choose to present ourselves through our warrior journey. Pink Dove Co was started to be a one-stop shop for individuals who have gone or are going through their cancer diagnosis and treatment to help them feel like they can still put their best foot forward despite their diagnosis. I hope my story inspires, empowers, and encourages other women in my situation to continue being resilient. Please visit www.pinkdoveco.com or email info@pinkdoveco.com

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Wokie Shares Her Remarkable Rollercoaster Story From Being a Refugee To Battling Cancer

Pamela Bardhi
Hello, everyone, and welcome to another episode of underdog today. I’m so excited to have this amazing guest here with me. We’ll get down here. Hello, Wokie. How are you?

Wokie
Hi Pam, I’m well, how are you?

Pamela Bardhi
Lovely, life is good. You’re beaming and I love it. Such an honor to have you here today. I’m so excited to talk about your story and hear all about you today. I’m absolutely mesmerized by you and your passion and everything you’ve got going on and just your spirit overall in general. And I just can’t wait for you to share your story. So I guess we’ll roll forward with How about your life in a nutshell to date? And we’ll kind of reverse from there.

Wokie
So, with the pandemic and everything is going on, you know it’s not as bad as one would hope, I actually have the shingles. Kind of going through that right now, just last week. So I’m kind of dealing with the shingles as we speak. Hopefully, I start feeling much better in a few weeks. I was told so yeah. It’s been 2020 for sure.

Pamela Bardhi
What is funny, for sure. I guess we can start with, how we got connected. So basically, your husband, I went to Stonehill with him. And he’s awesome. He’s great and we connected through him, which is super awesome. And I was absolutely blown away by your story. So you grew up in Liberia?

Wokie
I did. Yes, I was actually born in the US. I went back when I was one because my mother, it was hard for her to have her infant and trying to make a life for herself. So it was easier to send me back home to my father while she figure out life and bring the rest of the family to America. She did send me back to Africa. I stay there until I was 10. So nine years, I was in. Obviously, I didn’t stay there that long, because there was Civil War. I was kind of stuck there, for that period of time. But uh, it was interesting to say the least, right? Life was very different than what it is now but I’m grateful. You know, I’m grateful for the experience.

Pamela Bardhi
Oh my gosh, so what was it like living there? Up until you were 10 years old? Meaning, like culture? Well, you wouldn’t remember anything being one. And then coming here, it was probably the reverse. When you came back to the US, what was it like growing up there and then coming back like? Because I know it’s totally different?

Wokie
It was, you know, growing up there when I was younger, things were okay. But then when the civil war happened, and everything got destroyed, we didn’t have running water. So we had to drink from a well or a pump. We didn’t have a stove in the house. We actually had put kerosene on the lid and cooked that way, we didn’t have a TV. I didn’t grow up watching TV and certain things. I’m telling you, it was night and day coming back when I was 10. And seeing how the kids acted, I was much more mature. Because I was dealing with real-life issues at a very young age. So definitely, like not the same different upbringing, right? But then again, it made me who I am. And that’s why I am the way that I am because of my upbringing.

Pamela Bardhi
Yeah, I was born in Albania and I went to Italy but I would go back and forth. I came to the US when I was five. Going back and forth when I would go back to Albania, to see my grandparents and everybody it was like the same thing there. It was still a communist country. So like, there was you know, electricity, it was not reliable. The water, it’s like, once it shuts off like you don’t get showers past like eight o’clock like crazy. So I get what you’re saying.

Wokie
Definitely different. So I grew up in a whole different time. And I and it’s funny because I tell James this quite often. God forbid anything happened to the US, I will survive. I’m so right because I know how to survive. I don’t need Netflix or anything like that. I’ll be fine cooking. I got that covered. All right.

Pamela Bardhi
You’re like, I got to say like kerosene is nothing. I’m back. I’m good.

Wokie
Like I’m good.

Pamela Bardhi
So and then transitioning back into life in the United States is like, probably a total culture shock, I know kind of was for me, just like, I remember coming home and like the first day of first grade, because my name like in an Albanian and an Italian is Pamela. That’s how my family would call me and everything. And then I came here and people would be like Pamela and like, I went home and cried to like my parents. I’m like, they don’t say my name right. Like having a meltdown.

Wokie
Talking about me, you know what my name is?

Pamela Bardhi
Oh, god, you’re like, that’s not my name. How was that? butchering it left and right. I’m sure

Wokie
You get up to today. Okay, I work. I will never forget this work with the Department of Defence. I was on a phone with one of the employees for the military base, because we do a military contract. So I’m on the phone about an issue with the military base. And we have another conversation, I tell the gentleman, Hi, this is Wokie at the time pass away calling and so he laughed. I wasn’t sure what was funny. And he laughed. And he was like, Oh, you’re funny. Is that Wokie? Is that your real name? I’m like, what?. Is that your real name? I said, “Well, first of all, I’m calling a government official, why would I need to use a nickname?”

I laughed with him. I was like, No, no, this is my right name in the coming little work. Like, what did you expect? I get that all the time. And obviously, we laughed about it a little bit, got into the business. But like I said, even I work I constantly, my name, it’s literally always a 10-minute conversation until we get to what the issue is. There are times now where I even use fake names because I don’t feel like discussing, you know, some Star Wars. You know, I literally changed my name, quite often, sometimes just to avoid having the conversation, where the Wokie comes from.

Pamela Bardhi
Oh, my gosh, that’s hilarious. I can kind of resonate with you, oh man, culture shock. You know what I mean when you come here, it’s like a totally different way of life, like what I knew, and I was young, and it was crazy. Because like, Albania at the time when, when my parents left was also the collapse of communism. So there was kind of a civil war going on between the Democratic parties, the ones who were trying to come in versus the communist parties, except for our dictator, all of a sudden turned Democrat.

Wokie
Oh, wow.

Pamela Bardhi
Yeah. Which you know, what that means, you just basically changing names, just to say, and so it was like I’d be going up to the window, and like, my grandmother would pull me at nighttime. I would see the tanks outside. And she’s like, Pam, don’t go to the window because they’ll shoot. Oh, my god. Was it the same?

Wokie
It was worse, actually. Obviously was worse in the sense that they will actually take you from your home, rape the girls, the little boys were soldiers. I was a refugee actually a refuge in Cote d’Ivoire, in Africa for a few years. It was that bad. Yeah, it was gruesome. When we got back home, our home was burned down. You know, there were bodies. Oh, I imagine going through that at a very young age. And then coming here where all the kids are very young-minded. You know, there are children as they should be.

Pamela Bardhi
Right.

Wokie
I’m already seen so much in life, Was it cautious? Different? It was?

Pamela Bardhi
Yeah, at 10 years old.

Wokie
It was actually younger when I went through the five, six, like throughout because we had three wars. Actually. We had one in 1990. Then we had October 15, 1995. And then April 6, 1996. So we had three different wars that I was part of. Every time you’re running you don’t know where you’re going. You’re running into bullets all over the place. Yeah.

Pamela Bardhi
Wow. I can’t imagine that. Obviously, those experiences have shaped you now, but just like wow.

Wokie
Absolutely. This is why no battle is too big for me at this point. I think I’ve been through a lot and nothing is gonna take me away or, turn me for being who I am. For the simple fact that I’ve been to.

Pamela Bardhi
A warrior and I love you for that. I think it’s so amazing. And so I guess we can get into shifting into the United States. How was that experience, sort of coming in from a totally different space, then kind of shifting into that?

Wokie
It was hard. It wasn’t easy. Because I still have the accent now, but it’s better coming here. I mean, I spoke French grown-up. So I do know English at the time, and I learned English and then I forgot French. But you know, kind of getting to know the kids and interacting with the kids. Obviously, it was hard. They didn’t understand what I was saying, because I had an accent. My mom actually enrolled me in a really good school, I went to a private school and the resources that they had were amazing. I had a speech therapist. They gave me a lot of attention and kind of shaped me. But that’s it. I really haven’t been to school, because of the war. I was in school, and then the war happened worse, come back. So I was behind.

Having gone to a private school where I got so much attention, and there were so many resources, really helped me and build that foundation that I hadn’t had while growing up. The first year initially was hard. And then I got malaria the first year. So I was in a hospital for like, a month. The transition was hard at first, but then after a year or so I kind of got a customer. I was a kid, was still young and I was 10. So very quickly I started making friends. It got easier. And then I went to high school, then college, then I’m here now. Yes. It wasn’t bad. It was hard at first, but I quickly adapted.

Pamela Bardhi
And then after college, you met the love of your life.

Wokie
Oh, you have to love All right.

Pamela Bardhi
Year One into marriage.

Wokie
First life for sure. But yes, and I met James obviously. We’re neighbors. Yeah.

Pamela Bardhi
The neighbors?. That’s so cute. That’s awesome. And then you know, your wedding last year?

Wokie
Yes, we got married in Jamaica. It was amazing and was beautiful. And then, we flew out to Europe, and we did our honeymoon there. Everything was so blissful. It was really nice. Then we came back thinking we’re gonna live happily ever after which we are. But we just thought everything would be so beautiful. Come back home, we’ll go back to work. We’ll start creating a beautiful family. Oh, yeah. Life was great. Well, we had another thing gonna come for us. So, I mean, after coming back, and all that, that’s when I got a diagnosis that I had breast cancer. So that kind of changed things quickly.

Pamela Bardhi
Wow.

Wokie
You know, quickly, like, whatever plans we had wasn’t a plan anymore, obviously. So now we have to address my illness, and then kind of like revamp everything, tried to see how we can do to help me to get better. So continue with those plans.

Pamela Bardhi
Right? How did you just have an instinct, like, go and get checked? Or how did that cut sort of come about?

Wokie
It’s crazy. It was a self-check. You know, I was in a shower. And I felt myself and it was a little long, it wasn’t anything to be concerned about. It’s just there. It’s not a tennis ball or a golf ball. Right? You’re really not concerned about it. But yeah, it was a little long. So I went to my doctor, and my doctor said, Oh, you know, I don’t think its anything but to be on the safe side, you’re young, we’ll just do an ultrasound on a mammogram. I don’t think there’s anything so let’s just check it just to clear it out. So, therefore, my mind is not wandering, thinking of anything. And she went ahead and sent me to go get a an ultrasound. I went and got an ultrasound.

And the technician said y’all just sounds a little off your classification looks a little weird. But since you’re already here, let’s just do a mammogram. I was like, Okay, I didn’t think anything of it. I was like, Sure, why not? I’m here. Let’s do a mammogram, let’s go over with so she’s got a mammogram. And then she asked him to go back again to do another one. And we did more. Then she came back. She said, Well, your classification, the way has grown 40% of the time is benign, but I would just want you to get a biopsy anyway, just to go check it. Okay. Again, I didn’t think I was concerned, but I’m really concerned. But I will say I was very surprised at all they were doing because I’m so young. It wasn’t like a big long.

Because I’ve heard so many stories. So I did a biopsy. And like a week later, I got a phone call. And they said, Well, it’s cancer. Of course, I was nervous. And she said, but the fact that you were so proactive and you came in as soon as you tell something is early, so detection is the key. It was so early on that we were able to go ahead and rectify cancer before it got worse. So early detection is the key. Right? Yeah, and thank God, they were able to get early. Yes, they were able to catch it early. And then my oncologist suggested that I get a mastectomy just for the simple fact how it grows so long, and I’m a small individual around very petite and so she thought it would be best to go ahead and get an asset to me.

You know, I thought it was the best-case scenario, let’s just go ahead and do it. So Originally, it was supposed to be an easy procedure, quick, it was early, we got my sex, I mean, three months later, you’ll get your implant, and you’ll be done. You won’t have to be on a pill, obviously for five years, to suppress the extra time because it was er positive. And we get cancer to determine what is feeding cancer. And for me, it was an extra chance. So they would have given me pills to suppress the fat, which would then put me where I could have kids while I was on the medication. That was the plan. It was a quick plan. And so I was all for it.

Everything was great and then it was a lot of discomforts. A lot of pain. I just wasn’t sure what the pain was for. There wasn’t any change to the skin of where the incision happened. Usually, if there’s a change in color, then there’s an infection. But there wasn’t anything, everything was perfectly fine. I was just in pain consistently. And I remember at three months later, which was in December, I’m lying in bed, and I started leaking. And I’m like James look, and we’re looking at and I call my doctor and thank God had his cell phone number I called him, I say, hey, look this and I say no because what’s happening is that, oh, that shouldn’t be happening. And he was like, well, is something’s going up. That means something’s going on. So we need to get you into the O R. Tomorrow.

So once in a hospital, he said we might just do the implant now, right? He’s like, there are three things that will happen. Two things, I forget what he said. But he said, one, I’ll go check it out. And I’ll exchange it right and I’ll put your implant in and you’ll be good to go. two well is bad and I feel like you’re not ready for an implant out took out the tissue expander, which is used to expand the tissue after mastectomy. And then I’ll go ahead and put in another one. And here’s the worst-case scenario, what I would do is actually remove everything, leave you flat-chested and treat the infection depending on how bad it is. Because we don’t know until we get in that right.

So I was like, Okay, awesome. I went in thinking I’m gonna come out and I’m gonna have a new pose, and I’m gonna be happy and life’s gonna be back to normal, right? We did the surgery. And I remember waking up and the first thing I did, I just touched myself real quick because now trying to fill my new Boolean. Not that I touched my son. I see like these dreams, that when I felt the dreams, that’s what I knew it was the worst-case scenario. And I just remember I just cried. Which is so sad. So it’s like starting the whole process all over again. I really wasn’t expecting that. I was like, No.

This was all in December like a week before Christmas. And I remember I had a Christmas party. I have my annual ugly sweater party. And all my friends came together. It was like, Don’t worry, what cook, will clean, will do everything for you. You know, just relax. I want to have it because I want a sense of normalcy. So I never forget. Also, I had a work trip too. But, I didn’t have to go to work. I didn’t have to do anything. I just needed to keep myself distracted. I needed something, I just can’t stay home. And I needed to keep myself distracted.

In the meantime, I’m working on this business that I actually came up with when I got my first surgery. Just a work-life balance while going through everything. In my mind, I’m starting this business, I’m writing things just putting everything into perspective. So going back to the day after-party, I got a phone call from my doctor and I Remember, he said, Hey, listen, I sent some of your tissue to the pathologist and it came back and said that there is still some of the cancer that remained is non-invasive. That’s a good thing. But we don’t know exactly where it’s coming from, like, which part of your chest is coming from. So we had a meeting about you, and we might have to revisit other treatment options, and you would get a call from the radiologist and the medical oncologist.

So, now I’m thinking in the beginning, it should have been a quick operation, right? Operation New boobs, on a pill done with. Now you’re saying, okay, everything changed around now, I might be having to get radiation. And it was a lot, it was, to say the least. I recall going to my radiologists, and she told me, you know, lucky, this is our unusual case, I’ve never had a case like this before. She said, usually, I’ve never had anyone who got the procedure, done three months later got an infection, and then we find out that there might still be a castle there. And she’s like, I just never had this before. So she says, my recommendation is for you to get radiation to kill anything that’s remaining because you’re so young.

However, I think a second opinion wouldn’t be bad as well. So I went ahead to the second opinion, and then radiation was the ultimate decision. Then I went to head into the radiation for six weeks, Monday through Friday. Yeah, it was a lot. So now I’m waiting for my next surgery to remove the tissue expander because, before radiation, I had to get another surgery to put back in the expander. Radiation doesn’t compromise the skin, we have to put it in to stretch out the skin due to radiation. And I’m waiting for my next surgery, which would be to go ahead and put in that implant

Pamela Bardhi
Oh, my God,

Wokie
Definitely a journey. I didn’t expect it to be this long of a journey. I thought it was gonna be you know, I mean, nothing is ever easy. And I get it. I just expected it to be a smooth journey, given the fact that it was caught early. But apparently, you just never know what life throws at you, right? You just need to be ready when you’re going through something like cancer you just never know.

Pamela Bardhi
Right? And you know, the beautiful thing is it reminds me of the lotus flower kind of thing. You know that you are in the middle of all this like chaos, you’re still thinking about something positive, like starting a business to help other people who are going through it?

Wokie
Oh absolutely, yeah. Yes, yes.

Pamela Bardhi
Most people in your situation would like sit in a corner and isolate from the world. And there are some worries out there. Don’t get me wrong, but like the fact that your mind went straight to like, how can my experience help other people? I think is like, it just speaks volumes about you, your character and what you’re all about, and your spirit. I just think it’s amazing. So I’ll get into the asking the questions on pink though, but because I know there’s going to be a lot of people listening to this, that cancer has touched their lives someway somehow, whether it’s themselves personally, or somebody that they know, a family member, friend, co-worker, or what have you.

Your experience of what would you share would be like one of the biggest things for anybody who’s diagnosed or somebody close to them diagnosed, like what would be like your pieces of advice to them, because that moment can be so chaotic. And I dealt with it personally with my grandfather having pancreatic cancer, and they still but he lived on for almost two more years. You know, and he went to treatment. And we gave him Rick Simpson oil, the marijuana oil and like, it helped him it reversed it at one point, which is like crazy, you know, but it’s like, I remember when he got his diagnosis, like how heavy that felt. It’s like, in your experience, what would be like your biggest pieces of advice to anyone who’s listening?

Wokie
The support?

Pamela Bardhi
Yeah.

Wokie
I’m not gonna sugarcoat it and say that it’s easy, because everyone has a situation differently. So I tried to be mindful of people. I had to do it differently. I was optimistic to it all. And I smile and I went to work and I pretended that it wasn’t happening even though it was not. Everyone has a mind like that. Some people from traumatic experiences, you know, the support is the key. You need a strong support system because you could put up all the happy face you want to but internally, you’re always thinking, am I gonna make it, and is this going to happen again. To me, the real currency is a scary feeling. And it’s so important to have people that support you and around you, and love you and just let you know that everything’s gonna be okay.

So I’ve been going through this having a support system to keep because I have a husband, and he was amazing. And my sisters and you know, my coworkers, my job, amazing people, they’ll surround and animate things so much easier for me, right? Having them around, just being supportive, and friends coming to my doctor’s appointment with me and saying, okay, it’s okay to cry. It was amazing. You’re not just having that group. So just having a strong support network is essential. Going through something like this, you’ll be in a very dark place.

It’s funny that you said that, because going back to my Christmas party that I had, when I got that initial phone call, and that moment, I had everyone around me, that everyone knew about it. I have so many people, but yeah, I felt so alone. Like there was everyone around me, everyone’s having a good time. And I just literally just wanted to break down and cry. Like, no one knew that. Obviously. I recall, my best friend came, Oh, no, let’s open a ship. And let’s toast. And I was like, No, I’m on set. Because in my mind thinking, What am I toasting for? What am I toast? If I just find out this news, I don’t even know what’s gonna happen after the see the radiologists, have to see this. Like, it was depressing. It was it really was.

But you know, then the next day everyone came over. The people who knew came over and we sat down, we have conversation, don’t worry about it. You know, it’ll be fine. Whatever you need. That literally was really put me through literally just to support the support, the friends, the cards, the flowers. you know, the little things, that it was just a little thing coming over. We’re watching Netflix together a Lifetime movie network, which I love. Y’all think that it puts you through just having strong support because you can have so many people around you who feel so alone.

Pamela Bardhi
Yeah, sure.

Wokie
And so you just need people who really love you and care for you. And just it’s a reminder to say hey, listen, with your whatever it is that you need. And that’s important.

Pamela Bardhi
Awesome. And so since you were mentioning, like your doctors were mentioning that you were so young going through this experience, like what did you realize was missing for young people diagnosed with cancer at a young age?

Wokie
Sorry, also the educational part of it, right? I’m sure you’ve heard this, oh, you get a mammogram when you’re 40. Or you don’t have to worry about breast cancer, because chances you’re going to get it every once in a family. But through my research, I’ve realized 75% of people who actually get cancer, there’s no relation, it’s not genetic at all. So number one, that’s a misconception. Number two, say all you need is to be 40 to get a mammogram. That’s also a misconception. Because you have women who are getting breast cancer at an early age, and I read an article of 23-year-old getting breast cancer, you know, she hasn’t even begun life yet. And he is faced with this disease.

Getting it at an early age, what makes it worse, I believe, for women who are in their 20s and 30s are wanting to understand is that we began our lives, the right job, we just are in our career. Some of us have recently got married, we want to have children. I mean, some of the treatments are invasive that you need to be put in early menopause. But as I mentioned before, I have to take those pills for five years, which will limit my ability to have children. They have to understand that when you get cancer at a young age, and you don’t understand and you’re not thinking of having a family at the time, right when you are ready, that is an issue.

I believe that education is essential when it comes to this. My friend Laura, who got diagnosed and you know, she and her husband have been married for a few years now they want to have children. And good thing, she was educated enough to go ahead and freeze her eggs. So our treatments are done, she can go ahead and go on to currency for chocolate, things that people my age need to know. And going through the whole process of cultivating egg and everything takes weeks. When you have kids, especially triple-negative, you want to start your treatment immediately. So being young and having the thing of your family or you don’t even know if you want to have kids but you don’t want anyone to take that option away from you.

So again, the major thing I would take away from this is just being educated on being diagnosed at an early age and hopefully having to get training before you’re 40 years old. Oh, wait till you are older and then find out that it actually has progressed over time. You know, which hurt your chances of kids.

Pamela Bardhi
You know, oftentimes you hear that it’s so far away, right? Yeah. When you’re 40, like, no big deal, like you don’t even think about it right now. So like what you are so true, you’re just like, it’s it feels so far away for you but it’s not and it’s like, it can come at any time. Better to check and like that option that you were mentioning with freezing the eggs, I didn’t even know that that was a possibility. And I didn’t even think about the whole side effects of taking those treatments, and what it does to fertility. So that’s a great point that you were mentioning, too. And I mean, thank God, you know, like, fears of like freezing eggs and things like that. But who would have ever thought of that? so I think that’s important.

Wokie
Exactly. And my partner, Natasha she’s also on a website. she’s VP for public relations. And she’s in early menopause. And she’s been in there since she was 29 because of a treatment. And when you get married, you want to start your family, right? In a year or two, she’s still in early menopause. She wouldn’t be able to have kids just yet. until everything else is done. So for anyone who gets diagnosed at an early age is hard. If you’re 23 years old, you don’t even have kids. Yeah, you just finished college, your career ages, bonus, you know, even with me my career, I was just at the peak, which I felt like, I was at a peak of my career. If you’re new, I agree, and you’re going through this, who’s ever gonna keep your job for how long?

Pamela Bardhi
Right?

Wokie
Right, it changes a lot of things. I mean, I’m really fortunate to have two people that I work for, they were the most understanding people have ever encountered. You have no idea. It was like working. Don’t worry about him. It’s like you’re here. Thank you. Take as much time as you need, like, don’t think about it. Your job is saved. You know, my CEO called me. They were just on a check-up on me on a daily basis and telling me, look, I don’t want you to work your job safe, just get better, because we want you back here. You know that it like I said, the support, it was so important. But not everyone has a job, or bosses who will actually literally care for you. Right?

But these are things you have to think about your job. You know, when you’re just starting out with your career, your job. And then you have to think of kids, it’s a lot. It’s allowing a young individual who’s going through something as life-altering as cancer. So education is the key man. If nothing happened, you want to know all your options. Like I said, getting cancer at any age is hard. But oftentimes people who are in their 40s 50s they already have children and they’re very seasoned perhaps in their career, you know, that could layaway for them versus someone who’s in their 20s or in early 30s, who have a having to experience any of that. It makes it harder.

Pamela Bardhi
Right. Right.

Wokie
Yeah.

Pamela Bardhi
And then another question that I also have for you is like what do you want people to know about life after cancer.

Wokie
It doesn’t stop. So I see quite often on social media or anywhere, oh, you’d be cancer. Woohoo, you’re never done. It never just stop. You started to support after the fact. Because not in your mind you’re thinking a reoccurrence. Is it going to happen again? Why do you constantly think about things constantly? You know, as I said, I got diagnosed with shingles. a week ago, my arms were hurting, I was in so much pain. The first thing that I thought of, it came back again, as I can feel in my arms, leg. I’m in pain, like, you know, I was nervous, it could have been anything I don’t like, right? It could have been anything, but it’s that you have anxiety, it’s consistent anxiety that you’re living with for the rest of your life.

You just don’t know what can happen, so people get excited. And please be excited that someone won the battle, be excited. However, what they’re going through, their anxiety that they are going to face on a daily basis, that’s something you’re not gonna know. But remember to support because you just never know what that person is going through, regardless if they need it or not. It’s a constant struggle.

Pamela Bardhi
You’re a warrior, did I mention I love you already? Look how awesome you are earlier, because even throughout all this, or you still are thinking about, and I said this earlier about other people’s, the company that you started throughout the midst of all this pink dove on top of your full-time job, I just think it’s absolutely incredible. So I’d love for you to talk about it. And this business in general and how it sort of came about in your mind as you were going through all this because I think it’s so powerful. Like I literally get chills when like, just the thought of it. I think it’s amazing.

Wokie
I really appreciate it and you know, truth be told I’m so humbly happy that it’s been received so well. And everyone is so excited about it. And I get emails from a lot of warriors telling me, thank you. It’s finally something that locked a bra and it’s amazing, to say the least and this is exactly what I wanted, people to be excited about it. People to be happy to feel that something belongs to them, they’ll have to go on Google and check out the bra in just about picked up by them. I have some really, really nice bras for me to feel comfortable in. This is exactly what I want to just want you to feel happy. It’s like happiness.

When you’re going through something so dark, like cancer, you want something to make you feel good, make you feel happy, at least right to brighten your day. So how this whole idea came about was like I stated before I came from the hospital and abroad, what I received from the hospitals were uncomfortable and I remember my plastic surgeon, Dr. Christian, like he’s such a nice doctor and he said, You know Wokie. Don’t worry, you could go into a regular bra, no regular bra, wireless bra so, Don’t worry, okay, he was so nice. And I’ll joke with him all the time. Like, I’m going to start my own company or watch like, I’m sick of the hospital, give me this type of breath. And he will laugh about it and things like that. So he gave me some ideas too.

So that was amazing for him to go ask him questions, and he’ll give me idea. And the more I thought about it, he told me it’s not going to be easy. But whatever you need help with I’m more than happy to give you any advice, or mentorship, or whatever it is that you need. So that was exciting that he was on board to help me whatever questions that I had. So the more I thought about it, I’m just let me do it. Let me try it out. It’s gonna keep my mind occupied. Anyways, I know I had a lot to do with work. Don’t get me wrong. I know my boss watching this at all. She wasn’t working on I was working really hard.

Then I started with the bras. It was very uncomfortable. The one that I received from the hospital, I wanted it to be nice, as well to be lease, you know, I have bought all these bras, it’s in my drawer. Now I can never wear them again because they have wires and I have to wear a wireless bra. I have all these beautiful bras that I spent 60-70 bucks on I can’t even wear that. In my mind. I was like oh, there needs to be a better way. So I thought I’d done my research looking at different manufacturers and what they offer and things like that. So initially it started with the bra and then I started doing that and then when I had my second surgery, I was traveling a lot for work.

And I recall at the hospital, Wokie, if you’re going to be travelling for work, you’ve just had surgery, you probably want to wear compression socks, and things like that to keep your blood flowing. And those are things I never thought of until now. I needed it. And so hmm, that’s something that is needed, compression socks. Hmm. Okay, that’s something I could add to the store. So that came about. And then I had a friend who lost her hair, you know, for cancer, and she was looking for hats and hats that they have worn. She’s a young woman, and hats that they have worn flattering, you know, so I thought about us. We need hats too so it just started like talking to different people who were going through the same situation and hearing their frustration and what they couldn’t find, and things like that.

And I’ll go on forum and conferencing with the other ladies in the support group. And, and I would just hear that frustration of them complaining about things or looking for and how expensive it was and you have to understand, cancer is expensive, your hospital visit, your hospital bills, everything is so expensive. So I thought, Okay, you know what, I really have to focus on this business. And I really have to make sure and I have to think of not only what they need, but I also have to make sure that it’s budget-friendly as well, right?

I don’t want to have a hat that’s like $30, right? If I can find any factory who’s willing to work with me to give it to them at a good price. That way I can give it you know, sell it put on a website to the people who need it for the price, right. So they don’t have to break the bank after trying to pay for their medication and their treatments and everything like that, because it gets really expensive. So yeah, it started with, of course, me complaining to my poor doctor about how uncomfortable the bra he gave me even though he mentioned, I didn’t make the bra.

You make this uncomfortable, you know, but no it went from that bra. And I communicated with other warriors. And I saw what the gap was and what was needed. So I literally started doing my research, you know, I will work during the day, I’ll go to my treatment and from 6 pm to two o’clock in the morning, I’ll be working on this business. It was like, literally my sleep pattern was all over the place. I recall my doctor saying you need to rest if you need to get better, you need to rest, you know, you need to rest. Resting is essential for you to heal. And I say ok, I know. I’m resting, and I’ll work and I was working on it.

I recall having my surgery in April and this was when the virus has taken over and people were quarantined. So I couldn’t stay in hospital and I had to come home. And I had my surgery. I recall I came home I was still out of it. And I remember the doorbell ringing and James went downstairs because I was getting a lot of samples for the website because I wanted to test out all the qualities before I actually bring this out to other people. So test out the sample. I recall I was in bed out of it and he comes in from all sweetheart one of your samples just came in. And I was like okay, all right, get me up. I’ll try it out. I need to train on. I need to make sure it’s perfect second order, you know, and it’s funny.

And he’s like, no go to bed. I was like, No, I need to try this out.I still had the markings on from the hospitals, and all the bandages and everything. I remember putting on the dress that I just ordered. James took a picture of me. You can’t do this like you cannot do this. And I remember I was like, just do it, please. Yeah. I’m telling you I didn’t stop every single night while I was in a hospital like this was a journey. This is something that I wanted to do. I was determined to get it done. I was determined. So literally I came up with this concept.

In October, I spoke with my partner, Natasha, and another one of my partners, Natalie and I told them what I was going to do. You know, they all thought I was crazy, obviously, but they would have to support me. The support was there. And yeah, I was working on it. Literally, it took me eight months, and I consulted with my attorney, did all the trademarking and everything like that. And I was just coming up with different ideas, different things to do. We came up with a community, right, as I stated before, it’s important to have that strong support group.

And in addition to that, on that platform, as you can see, we came up with a warrior story so other people can share their stories that will give hope to the next person as read and to know that don’t worry I know, cancer is not the ideal thing no one wants to get or hear, but hear another’s stories. Like if someone looked at my story, I sincerely feel they will feel hope that they too can conquer this journey and live a good life after the fact. You know, so that was important. So yeah, when I came up with this concept, it was after speaking to some women who were going through this issue and couldn’t find items that met their needs. I was determined meant to fill in that gap.

And I did just that. I hope I did it. But yeah, and I’m happy with all the reviews, and all the purchases and all the happiness that comes along with that, again from people, you know, for warriors who purchase and say, Oh my God, thank you so much. I love the bra. It’s amazing. You know, thank you so much for the shirts and I make sure I always put little gifts and things there for them. just to brighten up their day, it’s important. And it’s funny because when you bend through so much I think you make a mission to make other people feel good.

You’re not gonna feels like to be down, you know, it feels like to just go through life. You know, it’s hard, you know what it is to go through a hard time and you never want to see that with anyone else. And that’s how I am, what I’ve been through so much. So if I can help, I’m all for it. I’m constantly like, there for them whatever they need. I mean, you name them there because I know what it is not to happen. So it’s important to always have someone in your back corner. I feel so which is why I’m the way that I am obviously,

Pamela Bardhi
it’s so awesome. Oh my god, I’m so inspired by you truly I am. You’re absolutely amazing. Like you’re going through this journey yourself. And like it’s your mission to give that happiness back to and then through this company, which is incredible. So you launched that. So was it like spring of last year?

Wokie
Launched in July?

Pamela Bardhi
Oh, you launched it in July? Okay.

Wokie
Yeah, I came up last year. And then I started working on it. You know, looking at samples, as I stated before, trying to get the trademark, trying to get the whole website. Maybe you can see, our website was a lot of work trying to go more fake together the color scheme. I mean, you name it, from down to the details. I was hands-on with every single thing doing it. Like every single day. So yeah, I started last year, and we launched in July,

Pamela Bardhi
July. Yeah. Oh, you had your surgery in the spring. And then that’s when you were still getting samples and everything. Okay, and then you launched by July Wow. So you’re like, super early into the business soul.

Wokie
And the review, you know, we’ve been receiving early on is amazing. I’m excited. I’m extremely excited about it.

Pamela Bardhi
Oh, and this is just the beginning for you, you’re literally scratching the surface.

Wokie
It’s just rewarding. Like you don’t understand, I feel, even if this was going to go anywhere, I’m happy. Like, I’m happy, this is rewarding. I was able to do this. And the little people have helped. I’m excited. And I nothing at this man can ever make me feel sad, or you know that even like I say, if it didn’t go anywhere. I’m ecstatic that I was even able to put this together while going through all of this myself. So I’m happy. I really am. I’m excited. It’s like joy today.

What Would Wokie Tell Her Older Selt to Her Younger Self?

Pamela Bardhi
I just think it’s beyond remarkable, like what you’re doing, and especially this business, the joy that it’s going to bring to the warriors and I love that you use that term to use the term warriors, not victims, warriors. Oh, yeah, another amazing, you know, I’m such a positive spin on it, which I think is absolutely remarkable. And now, another question that I have for you is, what was your older self tell your younger self? I asked this question to all my guests and I love all the different responses.

Wokie
You know, honestly, I would just say, well keep just keep on going, keep doing what you’re doing like I’ve made obviously a lot of mistakes. But funny, they ask this question. I love the question because I think this constantly, all the time. I’m the kind of girl who talks to herself in America. So I know, everyone knows, like, I’m my own coach. I sit and I say, Wookie you’re gonna get up today. I motivate myself every morning, I get up and I have this type of conversation with myself. And I think about what I would have changed or what I would have done differently. And time and time again, I come back to I wouldn’t change much. And the reason why I say that is because I’ve really moulded myself into the woman that I am today.

And I say this because I made so many mistakes back then. And I’m happy I’m still younger, I was able to correct those mistakes. Because I’ve made those mistakes that I’ve learned from. I’ve been able to help so many of my friends get through situations because I have gone through a situation. I’ve always said Hey guys, listen, I did this before. I think it’s a good idea. A perfect example is where I had to put myself through college. It’s hard for someone like me who’s trying to do the right thing. Go to school, couldn’t get the aide that she needed. So I would go two jobs. I’ll go and I have the funds to pay so I just wouldn’t go to the semester because I didn’t have the money.

But when I turned 24, not that I was able to get financial aid, I literally figure out a way. I was like, Okay, how can I get away to go really fast so I can be getting my degree already and be done. So I did a lot of research on my own on the internet. And then I found this one college, actually the initial college that I wanted to go to, and I found out that it had a program that you can go through, and it will make the process faster, basically, it went by trimesters. And if you go at nighttime, it’s cheaper. It was just like little things that I didn’t know without doing the research. So long story short, I finished school.

Three friends of mine, I tell them exactly what I did and how I did every single one of them did exactly what I did. And then they’re done. So when you ask a question like, well, that’s my old self, what can you do as a coach, because whatever you do, helps other people as well. And I just didn’t learn from my experience, I’m able to share my experience with other people to kind of help them find an easier way to do things, right. Because I don’t want to struggle with it, I struggle. If I can help anyone I’m more than happy to do so. So sad that I have to go through all the things that I went through, but I’m so excited that I went through them because I’m not able to help other people as well, to make their life easier.

Pamela Bardhi
That’s amazing. You’re such a good loving person back then. It’s about everyone else. But you which I find extremely right.

Wokie
All the time. And it’s funny because James and I, I said to him. I’m just gonna focus on me and my health. And even that I can’t even do and I get a phone call and go copy that, you know? Just my character is who I am. You cant change that, right? And I feel like good things come to those who do good things anyway. You just have to lead by example, right? You have to be the best version of yourself. That’s how I look at life just as a person, even when no one’s watching.

Pamela Bardhi
Amen to that. And you were sharing with me before the interview, which I thought was so amazing. So if you want to share with the audience, who you be interviewing with?

Wokie
Oh, my Oh, Ellen.

Pamela Bardhi
Okay. All right. I’m like, it’s too exciting to like not to talk about. And the reason I ask is that you’re speaking it into existence.

Wokie
Earlier in the preliminary stage, but you know, I’m excited. You don’t want to reach out I was like, oh, my goodness, what? Like what? I was really, really excited. I was I’m so excited. I mean, even if nothing comes to Photoshop, I’m excited about the fact that you can call me and that’s amazing.

Pamela Bardhi
Ellen’s team, and it was about you and Pink Dove. And God, that’s so awesome. And you’re not even like 12 weeks into this thing.

Wokie
Well, technically, yeah.

Pamela Bardhi
Yeah.

Wokie
Fairly early still.

Pamela Bardhi
It’s like it’s super early. And like, if you get that type of exposure, like this just means it’s only going to magnify, which is absolutely why I’m so so excited to see what you do in the future. I like I have a feeling there’s going to be a part to this already.

Wokie
It was a pleasure to be sitting here talking with your meeting. Oh, you know, you’re amazing. You’re great. I saw other great things you have done. Whoa. Good later. Because impressive. I love that, you know, like a well-rounded woman.

Pamela Bardhi
Thank you so much. You are as well. You’re a rock star. Now. You got to tell everyone where they can find you. Your website and social media.

Wokie
Absolutely. Find me on Pink Dove. You know, www.pinkdove.com obviously, we’re on LinkedIn as well. Pink Dove Co, Instagram, pinkdoveco and Facebook, Twitter, pinkdoveco as well. So yeah, look, we have a lot of important information, a lot of educational information, especially on the pingdom website, where we have the knowledge lab, one thing to get diagnosed. And it’s another thing to be a part but it is important to be educated at the same time in all your diagnosis and all of your options. Yeah, so you can find all of that on our website.

Pamela Bardhi
That’s amazing. Wokie. Thank you so so much for being here today. I greatly appreciate you and love your story. I love your mission. You’re So Amazing. You’re only going to do more amazing things from here on out.

Tune in to the episode to hear the rest of my incredible interview with Wokie Lanier’s remarkable rollercoaster story.