Beating the Odds, in Style

For many women, conquering infertility is enough. For Angela Mandell, the birth of her first daughter, followed by twin girls 22 months later—all via IVF—gave way to yet another challenge: Triple Negative Breast Cancer, discovered while nursing her twins. 

If chemotherapy and a double mastectomy and removal of her ovaries (after learning she carried the BRCA I mutation) weren’t enough, months later Angela’s husband was in a serious accident with serious repercussions for her family. See why we had to share Angela’s Second Act story? Read on for perspective-lending inspo from this incredible member of the #dsgoods community.

 Learning you had breast cancer with three kids: overwhelming. 

It was—I had to wait for diagnosis because I was still nursing. The happiness I’d fought for to achieve the family I’d longed for felt short-lived when that diagnosis came in. Luckily, I was able to receive a pioneering chemotherapy treatment through a clinical trial and it worked beautifully—my tumor disappeared. I finished treatment on the twins’ first birthday! But since I tested positive for BRCA I, which has a very high recurrence rate, I opted for the mastectomy with reconstruction, and later had my ovaries removed as well. 


Then your husband was in an accident. How did that impact your family?

Seven months after I finished my treatment, I found myself in the ICU with my husband, who was in a medically induced coma for 35 days for injuries from an accident. His business had already been hurting, so this event hurt us financially as his company went out of business and we filed for bankruptcy. And though my husband was better physically, the loss of a 100-year-old family business was devastating, and he began to depend on alcohol. I had to be as supportive and help him take control of his disease just as I had with cancer, while taking care of our family. Thankfully, he’s been sober for four years now. 

So much for one family. Tell us how your “Second Act” came about.

Turning 47 was an epiphany: I was going to be 50, and it seemed like nothing that had happened to me felt intentional. It was all reactive to obstacles. I wanted to decide to do something. I knew my girls were watching, and I wanted to show them that all these things can happen and instead of having a pity party, you can move forward with your life. So I decided to do two things: run a marathon and get my clinical doctorate in speech language pathology, the career I returned to following my husband’s accident. In 2017, I ran the Pittsburgh Marathon. And this fall, just in time for my 50th birthday, I’ll receive my doctoral degree.

Why did you share your story with us? 

I love that your company is founded by women who seem to share my values: that you are capable of anything you put your mind to. I wear them in my work, when I have to get down on the floor and play with the kids, and just because I have sticky fingers around me all day doesn’t mean I want to look sloppy. As women, we shouldn’t have to give up looking and feeling our best to do what we do best.