About your designer

About your designer

Thank you so much for checking out Survivor Says. I'm so excited to bring these designs to YOU. Everything here has been a work of love and I want to share some of my experiences as a survivor and the thought process behind some of my designs.

Survivor Says was created for 2 important reasons: representation and inspiration. The term "survivor" carries diverse connotations, encompassing those who have overcome illness, live with ongoing challenges, or seek motivation. Whether you've triumphed over a disease, navigate life with one, or simply seek encouragement, Survivor Says is crafted expressly for you.

Hi, I'm Stephanie and I created Survivor Says!   I am a survivor and continue to be a fighter.  I was diagnosed with leukemia when I was in high school and I had to have a bone marrow transplant.  A BMT that has no complications should take 4 weeks.  I had many complications arise,  I developed a disease called graft vs host disease, in my skin and in my stomach.  My BMT and its many complications left me in the hospital for 8 consecutive months.   I was too weak to walk, but with so much darkness, there came a light.  It was during this time that I actually learned that I could draw.

Since my first diagnosis,  I have had to struggle many years as a medical hardship survivor and now live with an invisible disability. It never occurred to me that some of the hardest moments would come from people that would stare at me as I went through some tough treatments that physically changed me. I wanted everyone who stared to know that I was a cancer patient, and that I was proud to be one.  I started to paint "Cancer Survivor" on my clothes to wear.  Since people were going to stare at me for looking "different",  I was now able to represent for my disease and the struggle too many of us face.  Wearing those clothes made me feel proud and powerful!  And I wanted others in my position to feel as good as I did.  I started painting "Cancer Survivor" on T-Shirts to inspire other patients that were still in the hospital.  

After cancer treatment, I had developed an invisible disability throughout my body.  While I'm so thankful to have gone through my life-saving treatments I now have needs that people are either unknowledgeable of, or worse, don't believe. These two entirely different experiences - one of being stared at like some sort of scientific curiosity, and the other being treated like I was a fraud or fake- are central to many of my designs.

Fighting health problems is likely the toughest job one may ever face. I think there are few things in our humanity that will be more personally affective than experiencing a health struggle, or seeing a loved one endure.  The inspiration for my designs for Survivor Says come from my experiences and the unity in simply knowing that I am far from the only one that has endured what I had, and have to endure.

When people saw my "Cancer Survivor" clothes, some people would look and smile, or look away, but the most rewarding outcome was when someone who had been affected by cancer came up to speak with me.  They would congratulate me, or motivate me! Sometimes people would tell me about their journey or a loved one's journey. It gave me a sense of belonging in a special club filled with people who worked the toughest job.  Just putting out my struggle to the world was a powerful message that brought camaraderie and hopefully, even some inspiration.

As I live my life now with the invisible disabilities left to me, relating myself as either a fighter or a survivor still gives me that sense of pride and power. But now I realize that showing the world that I'm a survivor carries some difference than before: that just because I have hair on my head, and I try to live a normal, healthy lifestyle, doesn't mean I still don't need extra support in my life. I can't tell you the times people have questioned why I'm sitting while everyone else is standing, or the looks people give me when I park in a handicap spot. Invisible disabilities are so real (96% of severe disabilities are invisible! Check out this link, Forbes - Invisible Disabilities: Break Down the Barriers). Many healthy individuals can't picture someone that looks as healthy as they are, could actually live with debilitating pain. Wearing my survivor/fighter shirts lets people start a conversation with me, about my invisibility disabilities, instead of having a conversation about me.

This is just a small insight into some of my experiences. I want to iterate again that the feelings and trauma that I've endured really are at the heart of every design on Survivor Says. I want to bring those same feelings of pride and power to all my fellow fighters.


p.s., I purposely wrote exclusively about my experiences going through medical hardships because part of this community's focus is exactly on those who have to endure the stares or the ignores. You'll notice, however, that I have designs that could be worn by anyone who wants to support our survivor-hood as well! I've been lucky enough to have some loved ones who have stuck with me all these years and they too, deserve to share in our journey.

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