Fighting Pretty is a non-profit organization started by cancer survivor Kara Dolce. After her own bout with cancer, which resulted in Dolce requiring a double mastectomy, she dedicated her time to empowering other women. Dolce wants to make all women feel strong and beautiful, as well as help them combat cancer by using their “pretty” as a means of inspiration and power.
Operating out of Portland, Ore., Fighting Pretty provides “Pretty Packages” containing beauty products, a journal, and other inspirational items, to women with cancer. The Pretty Packages also include a personalized letter from Dolce. The letter tells Dolce’s story as well as how she found strength and inspiration from something as simple as wearing pink lipstick.
Dolce was diagnosed with Stage 3B estrogen-receptive, Her2+, non-BRCA gene breast cancer when she was twenty-six years old. She went on to have a double mastectomy, eight rounds of chemotherapy, four weeks of radiation, fertility treatments, one year of Herceptin treatments and will be on hormone therapy for a total of 10 years.
While Dolce was living in New York her best friend’s mother, Meg, also a cancer survivor, had given her a pair of mini pink boxing gloves. Dolce said, “That always was a really good representation for me to never give up and stay strong and I hung them on my bed post for a couple years to remind myself I was amazing and strong. Soon after that a family friend of mine was diagnosed with cancer and I looked at myself in the mirror and thought I was doing well and she needed my strength so I sent her the first Pretty Package. I sent her a box full of makeup and beauty accessories and I sent her my mini pink boxing gloves.”
When Dolce started Fighting Pretty she decided to include mini pink boxing gloves in all of the packages, passing along the story of how she passed on her strength to another women with cancer. She hopes it will inspire other women to do the same.
Fighting Pretty is funded mainly by individual donations of $30 when requesting a Pretty Package or gifting one to someone else. They also partner with hospitals and give away hundreds of Pretty Packages to patients. In one year Fighting Pretty send approximately 600-800 Pretty Packages across the country, and to date they have sent over 3,500 Pretty Packages all over the United States and several internationally. Dolce said ideally she would like to give out at least 100 a month. Fighting Pretty received most of their products from donations from companies such as Revlon, Maybelline, Happy Socks, and more. Fighting Pretty produces the mini pink boxing gloves themselves.
Ashley Johnston was a recipient of a Pretty Package. She was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 28. Johnston searched the Internet for people who had experienced the same thing. “Statistically most people who are diagnosed with cancer are older, so I initially felt alone and wanted to see if there was anyone else that I could look to for inspiration. Enter Kara Dolce. I found the website Fighting Pretty and before I even realized that her main goal was to make women feel beautiful during treatment, I was inspired by her story of being a survivor and overcomer.” Johnston reach out to Dolce via email and Dolce became a constant source of guidance for Johnston. “She answered questions, listened to me vent, and she always stayed positive,” Johnston said.
She received her first Pretty Package right before her double mastectomy surgery. “I opened my door to find a bright pink box with the sticker that said, “Hello Beautiful.” Right then and there I had a huge smile on my face and needed nothing more than that.” Johnston said the most meaningful and inspirational item was the personalized letter from Dolce and the mini pink boxing gloves. Johnston said that Kara’s letter made it seem like they had been friends a long time. “She knows details about you, she comforts you, and she makes you feel that you are truly beautiful and appreciated,” Johnston said.
Dolce said she wants women to celebrate themselves. “My best advice to women with cancer, would be to always have hope and stay strong and know how amazing you are. Hair or no hair, breasts or no breasts, you are you and you are amazing. And put on some lipstick and rock it!”
Tyler St.Louis is a Creative Writing major at Western New England University. He is currently in his third year of college. Tyler describes him self as a novella writer, with a focus on the fantasy and horror genres. He is also a strong advocate for professional wrestling (which his friends find weird) because he views it as an art form more than a sport.