Women Over 50 with Great Style, The Cancer Fashionista

Have you ever noticed that some women just seem to exude great style? Their fashion choices appear effortless and their unique outfits often resemble artwork. I’m fascinated by these women with great style because they’ve nailed their look… yet remain unafraid to try new things.woman in white shirt and blue jeans

Let me introduce you to Donna. She is a multiple myeloma warrior, fighting cancer one outfit at a time. I ran across her feed on Instagram several months ago and was instantly drawn in. She is a courageous and inspiring woman. And, the more I saw the more intrigued I got. Let’s hear more from Donna.donna mcnutt fighting cancerHow has fashion helped with your recovery?

I was diagnosed in the last stage of Multiple Myeloma after it ravished my body within three months in 2015.  I was a mere shell of my former self, fighting for my life and trying to comfort and love my husband and three children through the worst period of their lives.  I needed my family to see me for who I am, a person who no matter what, gets dressed.  So little by little, I would apply lipstick to go to chemo or wear a cute pair of shoes.  I was determined that cancer could break me down, but it wasn’t going to take who I am.  I began to fight cancer one outfit at a time.  I truly believe that everything in my 55 years of loving fashion came together and The Cancer Fashionista was born.  I made it my mission to show others, especially fighting and living with Multiple Myeloma, that they too, should find their thing and never give it up.  Also, although ravished at one point, this is what I look like now.  There is hope. 

woman in brown skirt and orange jacketHave you always been interested in fashion?

From a very young age, I loved to observe others, especially what others were wearing and how a well-dressed person carried themselves.  I fondly remember moving to California from New Jersey as a six-year-old and beginning the first grade not feeling like I fit in,  I zeroed in on a girl in my class who had on the cutest pair of daisy sandals I’d ever seen.  Certain, those would change my life, I begged my mom for them until she gave in and bam, those sandals rocked my world and gave me an enormous boost in my California style.  Thus began my routine of planning out my outfit each evening before going to school the next day and discovering that fashion was powerful in how it made me feel.

woman in white dress and gold sandals
How has your fashion changed as you’ve gotten older?
Comfort, comfort, comfort.  The days of wearing shoes that pinch my toes are long gone as well as anything that is tight in places that now appreciate loose.  
woman in vintage housecoat and denim
How would you describe your personal style?
I am often told “only you could pull that off” leaving me to believe that I am a risk-taker.  I have never dressed for a man (ok, maybe a few times) and wear what I love, which is ever-changing because so am I.
blone woman in purple coat and black pantsDo you have favorite brands?
I have been a loyal fan of Zara, H&M, and Topshop.  I have learned to navigate these megastores and what styles work for me. If I do spend extra money on clothing, I love to shop in boutiques for unique brands. Because I love beautiful shoes, the remainder of my budget is not spent on expensive clothing.  Because I have a port that needs to be accessed for treatment, I have a new found love of a well-made button-down shirt.  Xirena and Grayson are two of my favorite brands.  I adore vintage accessories, flea markets have been a life long passion.  Adding a vintage bag or piece of jewelry to an outfit always gives it a personal touch.  I’ve recently gotten into vintage housecoats and have had the best luck on Etsy because of the temporary closure of markets.
woman in snake print boots and denimHow do you build an outfit? What do you start with first?
I always start with, what does this day/night mean to me, what is going to make me feel my best, and I always plan ahead.  If I’m wearing a loud color shoe, I don’t want the rest of my outfit to scream too.  Balance has always worked for me.  Take a chance in one area and keep the other parts simple.  

thecancerfashionista- Not knowing the right things to say or post during these uncertain times, I want to assure you, that through the most difficult periods of living with an incurable cancer, the gift of laughter & finding the absurdity of it all, is some of the best medicine the patient receives. Currently taking massive doses… Please keep it coming

Do you keep up with trends or do you prefer to march to your own drummer?

I love a good trend.  Most become trends because there is something special about it.  Sure a trend, but I’ll beat to my own drum wearing it.  

What is your most prized accessory and why?
My mother recently passed down to me her gold bracelet that she always wore daily.  I’m so honored she gave it to me, especially because she is still alive to see me wear it now daily too.  I think of her every time I look at it.  

“Style is the only thing you can’t buy. It’s not in a shopping bag, a label, or a price tag. It’s something reflected from our soul to the outside world – an emotion._ ~ Albert Elbaz

I adore this quote from fashion designer Albert Elbaz, for I dress from my own soul and emotions. I am a proud 59 and look forward to every new year added on…especially to get dressed.
Thank you for your interest in my love of fashion and how it has helped my cancer journey ~ Donna McNutt -THE CANCER FASHIONISTA

I hope you enjoyed learning about Donna’s story as much as I did. To learn more, please check out this video and follow her on Instagram.
If you liked this post, I would love for you to share it to your Pinterest board!
Thanks for reading and remember to wear what makes you feel confident.


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  1. Kris
    May 21, 2021 / 5:08 pm

    I loved this story! My 79 year old mother was diagnosed with breast cancer last fall. After her lumpectomy, she went through 12 weeks of chemotherapy and then 4 weeks of radiation. Through it all she still put her makeup on everyday and when she lost her hair she bought some beautiful wigs and turbines that she added brooches to to fancy them up. But when she would go in to get her chemo treatments the nurses would always comment on cute her outfits. She is very stylish and she would never go anywhere including her treatments without looking her best. Even her oncologist commented on how well put together she always is. But best of all she never lost her beautiful smile and wonderful sense of humor.

  2. Elaine DeBock
    June 26, 2020 / 3:42 pm

    Jennifer, thank you so much for sharing this! I’m typing through tears after watching the video. As a cancer patient myself for the past seven years, I identify so strongly with Donna and her message that cancer can break us down, but it isn’t going to take who we are! What an inspiration!

    Elaine @ Following Augustine

    • Jennifer
      June 26, 2020 / 3:44 pm

      Donna is amazing. I’m so glad she let me share her story xx

  3. Penny L. Luckenbaugh
    June 25, 2020 / 8:35 am

    My mother, a fashionista before there was that word ,had her hair and nails done, in the hospital, two days before she died . She wasn’t going anywhere not looking her best.
    It’s all about attitude and Donna has a fabulous one.
    You go girl!!!!
    Best wishes for your continuing health.
    PS Mom was an elderly lady, but we never knew her true age because she routinely knocked off 5 or ten years here and there. Why? It’s a mystery, since she always looked great.

  4. Sharon
    June 23, 2020 / 7:33 am

    What a wonderful inspiration! She looks fabulous!

  5. cindy
    June 23, 2020 / 4:17 am

    She is darling! What a great feature and I love her style and attitude! I will pin away!

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