Lori Allen is known as the no-nonsense style expert and mediator/moderator at Bridals by Lori in Sandy Springs. She is the star of not just one, but two, TLC reality programs; “Say Yes to the Dress: Atlanta,” and “Say Yes to the Dress: Bridesmaids.”
But you’ll see a very different side of her at 10 p.m. Friday.
On April 17 at 7:05 a.m., the 52-year-old entrepreneur found out she had breast cancer.
“It was a life-changing moment,” she told me earlier this week. “I’ve spoken to other women and they all remember the exact date and time. It’s so shocking. I’ve always been so healthy. I’ve always taken care of myself. This diagnosis came out of the clear blue.”
You’ll watch her journey during TLC’s “Say Yes to the Cure: Lori’s Fight.” For the first time, you’ll meet her husband and children and see her home.
Allen said she almost skipped her annual mammogram, given how busy her life is. But fortunately, she did. “If I had waited a year, I would have been a mess,” she said. “A major mess.”
Within three days, she and the “Say Yes to the Dress” executive producer decided this might be worth filming. The hour-long special shows the emotional roller coaster she goes through. “I did this with hopes that somebody facing the same diagnosis would be less afraid,” she said, “and how important mammograms are.”
She first had a lumpectomy but that didn’t clear out all the abnormal cells. So in the end, she chose to have a double mastectomy. (She gave props to her cancer surgeon Iqbal Garcha.)
She also chose to have immediate plastic surgery immediately, crediting Dr. Diane Alexander. “I didn’t want to go around flat as a board, not that I was very big in the first place,” she said. “I wanted to feel normal.”
Allen said the recovery has been emotionally draining. But speaking to the cameras while going through the ordeal “was like therapy. Every day was tough. I never cried so much in my life.”
“All day long, I’m dressing women and wanting them to look fabulous,” she added. “I have to feel good in order to convey to them that they feel good.”
With TLC promoting the special, Allen said she’s already received thousands of emails and gifts in snail mail, including knitted sweaters, blankets and teddy bears. “I have been absolutely amazed,” she said. She was also invited this week for a breast cancer awareness party at Vice President Joe Biden’s home in D.C.
In the end, she said, “it’s a story of hope.”
“Say Yes to the Cure: Lori’s Fight,” 10 p.m., Friday, TLC