On April 17, at 7:05 a.m., Lori Allen’s life changed.
“My doctor of more than 30 years called. I’d had a mammogram, and I knew there was only one reason he’d call at 7:05 a.m. He said, ‘You have cancer. You have to see a surgeon immediately,’” Allen said.
Allen, the star of TLC’s “Say Yes to the Dress: Atlanta” and “Say Yes to the Dress: Bridesmaids” and owner of Bridals by Lori in Atlanta, spoke Wednesday at Shaw Industries’ Shaw Associates Wellness Day.
Allen said she had been riding high with her own successful business and starring in one of the most popular reality shows on television when she got the call.
“I did not want, and do not want, people to feel sorry for me. I like to be strong. I like to be in charge,” she said.
But she said that she had learned, as other cancer patients have learned, that she had to rely on her family and friends and faith to get her through the surgeries and chemotherapy and radiation treatment.
Allen said that after her initial lumpectomy, doctors found that there were still abnormal cells in her breasts. She had to choose between having another lumpectomy or having a mastectomy. She chose to have a double mastectomy.
After the surgeries, doctors found abnormal cells through both of her breasts.
“I made the right decision, and my faith in my doctor was rewarded,” she said.
A special on Allen’s battle with cancer, “Say Yes to the Cure,” aired Friday on TLC and will repeat tonight at 10.
Allen’s daughter Mollie Surratt works in marketing and communications for Shaw Industries, and Allen said she’s come to view Shaw as part of her extended family, especially during her battle with cancer.
She said that Emily Morrow, Shaw’s director of style, color and design, has been there for her almost every day.
Morrow, herself a 10-year survivor of breast cancer, also spoke of her fight against cancer. At times, her voice broke up as she recounted the support she’d had from her children during her treatment. But she also drew laughs from the audience when she observed that “being bald isn’t so bad.”
“I had so many compliments on how my hair looked when it wasn’t my hair,” she said.
As part of Shaw Associates Wellness Day, the company brought in a number of health-related activities, including mammograms and prostate-specific antigen (PSA) screenings for men.
“We know that early detection is key in the fight against cancer,” said Shaw Industries President Randy Merritt. “This (Shaw Industries Wellness Day) is in keeping with our focus on creating a better future.”