Jean's Survivor Story
"In July, 2007, I was one of 1 in 8 women. In fact, I happened to be on vacation with my family and we were watching Robin Roberts, ABC News, tell the World about her diagnosis with breast cancer. My mother and I began to cry thinking of my Aunt Nina and her recent death not long along ago when she passed from Stage IV malignant breast cancer after ten long years fighting that battle. Later that same day, I received a call from the Radiology Department requesting I return for additional digital breast films. A preliminary diagnosis was made and the Radiologists thought they had seen something on my x-rays. I worried a lot for the next two weeks until I could return home to schedule additional MRI and sonograms to then receive my final diagnosis...."Jean you have bi-lateral breast cancer". Yes, it's true, 1 in 8 women are diagnosed every day in the U.S. with breast cancer. I was in shock and dismay. My goal since then and throughout my recovery has been to share my story and empower Survivors to Feel Confident and Look Beautiful (or Handsome) throughout their post-recovery journey. I hope you like the CRISSCROSS Intimate Apparel Collection and there is so much more to follow." All the breast, Jean
My 2nd Act story was published in NOU Magazine for Women Survivors! (April 2016)
They say it takes a village to launch a company or a product, and I've been fortunate to have been coached and advised by the very best across multiple industries. CRISSCROSS started in my living room -- and I've purposefully kept my business small in a scrappy start-up sort of way. Getting my hands literally wet and dry, and becoming intensively involved in every aspect of the business...from innovation to design, illustration, branding, partnering, manufacturing, operations, research, marketing, sales, distribution, and so on. It's certainly a different game when you're launching a company from the ground up but I had the fortune to draw upon my 25 years in media, management, sales and high-tech marketing. Without this business foundation, and the inspiration I got as a Breast Cancer Survivor, confidence as an inspiring new Author, sharing my personal story, allowed me to reach this plateau.
I was so proud and excited to show my first prototype Bra at a runway Fashion Show at a SoHo gallery on October 30, 2014 during Breast Cancer Awareness month to friends, family, colleagues in the Breast Cancer & Healthcare communities, and with my newly acquainted, Intimate Apparel colleagues. The Bra received rave reviews from Survivors and Plastic Surgeons alike as I tested it in the marketplace! Much has happened since then. I've obtained USPTO utility and design patent approvals, further enhanced the design and the technology behind the designs, and finished creating the entire collection. Now, I'm thrilled and honored to announce the premiere launch of the CRISSCROSS Intimates Collection (February 2017).
I've learned many things about myself during this journey. How to be resourceful, how to pivot quickly, how to stay positively inspired each and every day, no matter what. I must admit, I knew how to navigate my way thru new industries and network top down. For me, I learned it was quite easy, calling on Top execs, new Brands, navigating my way around a brand new industry-- the Fashion world, attending fashion trade shows, visiting local boutiques and specialty stores, listening to survivor stories, fitting survivors, calling on Top Docs, and more. I even wrote about advanced technology solutions for breast health and wellness while developing my brand. Then, onward to qualify the best business partners to execute the right 'breast' relationships for my brand. Those that didn't make the cut got the 'pink' slip and those that made it are my true pride and joy. While pink has never been one of my favorite colors, pink is the industry known color for breast cancer and I also tipped into my crazy sexy cancer colorful world of creativity for inspiration.
Now I welcome you to join me on my journey. Please invite me to chat or speak with your organization to share more insights about my Survivor Story with your teams or organizations. If you are also interested to learn about the incubator and start-up process I experienced as a new start-up business entering Fashion, please contact me as well. I have truly enjoyed this ride and look forward to the next part of my journey.
A note to all breast cancer patients and survivors, my message to you is "don't EVER forget how strong you are. And don't forget that our experiences -- the good, the bad, and the painful -- make us wiser, stronger, and more resourceful." I endured numerous surgeries during my post-surgical recovery. From bilateral lumpectomy with radiation to bilateral mastectomy with reconstructive surgery, followed by four implant replacement surgeries in a very short 18-month window. Then I contracted a flesh eating bacterial skin disease and found myself stuck in isolation for ten days in the hospital where I began to document my medical journey. I had numerous incidents of breast cellulitis, a fat graph... and you name it, I've experienced it and now continue to live a healthy "breastful" life with six-month check-ups as a nine and half year survivor. My physicians would often tell me, "Jean, you are one in a million!", partly because of the scientific odds of having to experience ALL of this. And, partly because of my determination to live and turn this into a positive end story. In fact, one of my Plastic Surgeons honored me with the Patients of Courage: Triumph Over Adversity award by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. And so, I wrote BLISS! - one chapter is about my Million Dollar Boobs and believe me, I didn't feel like the million dollar gal! And since that saga continued for four long years after all these surgeries, and I thought it would never end, the last chapter of BLISS is named the 'Pursuit of Happiness' and describes how I moved forward with my professional and personal life. I call it BLISS!
But, you know what? Because of this journey and because of what I experienced, I learned about breast cancer, recovery and myself -- CRISSCROSS now comes to fruition!
Survivor Stats and Bio can be found on LinkedIN Profile: Jean Criss