As the owner of Atlanta’s Bridals by Lori, Lori Allen — the sunny, spunky star of TLC’s “Say Yes to the Dress: Atlanta” — has helped lots of brides whose lives and families have been affected by breast cancer. On April 13 of this year, Allen, 53, learned she, too, would battle the disease.
“I got the phone call at 7:05 a.m., and it felt like somebody had hit me on the side of the head,” Allen recalls of the early-stage cancer caught by a 3-D mammogram and follow-up MRI. “For days I couldn’t even get the words out of my mouth that I had breast cancer.”
Once the news settled in, Allen realized she had a unique platform to share a story common to the more than 200,000 women a year who are diagnosed with breast cancer.
“I feel like we’re not as open about it as we should be,” she tells Zap2it. “I’m not ashamed that I have breast cancer. If we can turn something negative into something positive as a group of women, what better gift is there than that?”
Allen decided to turn her journey into the Friday, Oct. 26, TLC special “Say Yes to the Cure: Lori’s Fight,” chronicling the twists and turns in Allen’s treatment and recovery, which began with a double lumpectomy.
“I was going to have six weeks of radiation and then be on the anti-cancer pills for a long time after that,” Allen says. “That was the plan. And you’ll see in the show that it doesn’t work that way. Cancer doesn’t work that way. Everybody’s path is different, and that’s something we talk about.”
Allen also welcomed the ability to let her family and friends give voice to their own experience with her illness.
“My children are in the special; my husband is in the special; my parents are in the special. And the people that I work with,” she says. “The reason that we did that is because they’re all affected by my cancer.”
Few more so than Allen’s pal, co-worker and viewer favorite co-star Monte Durham.
“We’re best friends, and he really had a hard time articulating to me how heartbroken he was,” Allen says. “So what he started doing was every day, he sent me a different card. … Some days they’d say ‘Get your a** back to work,’ and the next day, it would say ‘I love you with all my heart.’ But it was always how he was feeling — he would write it in those cards.”