Women Over 50 with Great Style, The Cancer Fashionista

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.


This post may contain affiliate links which won’t change your price but will share some commission.


  1. 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

  2. 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.

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

    What a wonderful inspiration! She looks fabulous!

  4. 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!

  5. Ginger
    June 22, 2020 / 8:22 pm

    What an inspiration! 💕 Thank you Donna and Jennifer!

  6. diane
    June 22, 2020 / 10:03 am

    Truly inspiring. Donna helps me realize that my “many years old” are a GIFT to be cherished and working to stay attractive gives me and the world outside a chance to smile. To your health, Donna and Jennifer!

  7. Ann
    June 22, 2020 / 9:48 am

    An amazing upbeat lady of elegance!

  8. Vickie Swenson
    June 22, 2020 / 9:32 am

    Thanks so much for sharing her story, very inspiring to all of us! I’m guessing you have heard of Ari Seth Cohen…I’m rather new to your blog, so you may have mentioned him in the past. He has taken so many great photos of older fashionable men and women – it’s fun to look at his gallery!

  9. Linda R Gaertner
    June 22, 2020 / 9:10 am

    What a great story… it goes to show if you take time to dress in your personal style it will help you feel good about yourself!

  10. Carolyn
    June 22, 2020 / 9:09 am

    Dear Jennifer thank you. What inspiration! Blessings to her and her family.

  11. Linda Henderson
    June 22, 2020 / 8:48 am

    Thank you for sharing this lovely lady’s photos and story.

  12. Anon
    June 22, 2020 / 8:44 am

    Beautiful. How does she transform with each outfit?

  13. Chris
    June 22, 2020 / 8:02 am

    What an inspiration….I love her!!

  14. Susan Blakey
    June 22, 2020 / 7:59 am

    Wow, I love her style and spirit. Thanks for introducing us, Jennifer!

  15. Sharon
    June 22, 2020 / 7:47 am

    Beautiful! Everything about it – Donna, her story, her fashions, her attitude – everything!

  16. Laura
    June 22, 2020 / 7:44 am

    Loved hearing about the Cancer Fashionista, and have just followed her on Instagram 😃

  17. Diane B
    June 22, 2020 / 7:37 am

    What an inspirational woman. Thanks for introducing us to her. I would not have found her on my own. I agree it is important to me to look the best I can when going to hospital for treatments. I think it is fine for anyone to wear what makes them feel comforted in that situation, and dressed with fun jewellery is what makes me feel comforted. I cannot imagine having the energy for such a long term comitment to looking so fantastic when feeling exhausted. This also makes it easier to start a conversation on something other than who has what and for how long. Such a wonderful woman. Stay well Jennifer.

  18. Deb
    June 22, 2020 / 7:19 am

    Thank you for introducing us to Donna! I have had 35 surgeries in fact last one was less than a week ago. She is such an inspiration! I try my best to not let everything that has happened to me get me down! I love to get dresses up and look my best. And it truly does make me feel better! De

  19. Linda L
    June 22, 2020 / 7:15 am

    What an inspiration! Thank you for introducing Donna to me!

  20. Catherine
    June 22, 2020 / 7:04 am

    What an inspirational woman. This was the kind of woman I needed today. Thank you

    I thought you had done a post about hats and I can’t seem to find it. I am trying to reduce my risk of cancer recurrence on my face. I desperately need some new but stylish looking hats. Perhaps you could do a post to help us learn what shapes of hats suit our face shapes! Thanks.

  21. Rose
    June 22, 2020 / 6:05 am

    A great post Jennifer. What an inspiration she is! I felt the same way about dressing my best for chemo. Some people came in pajamas but I wanted to feel more normal like it was an appointment to look my best for. I love her great style.

  22. Jan
    June 22, 2020 / 5:45 am

    Jennifer, thank you for sharing Donna’s story with us. She shows the importance of focusing on the small details of life. Every day finding a purpose and keep putting one foot in front of the other. . Her inspiration was fashion. She is grateful for every new day and I seem to need these examples to keep me forever grateful.

  23. Deanne
    June 22, 2020 / 5:39 am

    She is a true inspiration! Thank you for this post and have a great week Jennifer!

  24. Leslie
    June 22, 2020 / 5:36 am

    Wow! What an inspiration. After reading about this brave woman I think it’s time for me to stop complaining about my aches and pains. I’m in awe.

  25. Francesca B.
    June 22, 2020 / 5:29 am

    Wonderful post; thank you Jennifer and thank you Donna for sharing your wisdom and your light, I am so inspired now to try new things. I’m going to keep following you on instagram Donna, just love your playfulness and sense of color, and power! 🙂 All the best ladies, keep on with the good stuff, very appreciative of your generosity thank you.

  26. Wendy
    June 22, 2020 / 5:17 am

    She spoke to me…as I was travelling my cancer journey…just a year ago, I too tried to dress well, slap on the lipstick, grab a nice handbag as I headed into our city’s cancer centre for treatment. It made me feel human.

  27. Donna Nance
    June 22, 2020 / 5:16 am

    Donna is an amazing woman! I am in awe of her attitude and stamina. Thank you for introducing her to us.

  28. Eve
    June 22, 2020 / 5:10 am

    Seeing people like this who do not let a disease define who they are is just so inspiring. God bless her and she looks wonderful in all these outfits. Thanks Jennifer.

  29. Susan Kelley
    June 22, 2020 / 5:03 am

    Really like some of her outfits and her hair…. now that is a challenge when fighting off the big C. One can see that she still likes shoes! I am with her on that. If one becomes known for a specific item, others always look for that. Don’t disappoint! If it’s shoes, then always wear interesting shoes with the outfit,etc. An inspirational person, yes I agree with the idea of changing how one evolves,especially as one matures,or lifestyle changes. Thanks for the post. Always look forward to my early morning coffee with you.!

  30. Yvonne
    June 22, 2020 / 4:56 am

    Such a courageous and inspirational woman. Thanks for sharing her story Jennifer.

  31. Deborah
    June 22, 2020 / 4:54 am

    As always I look forward to your posts for inspiration and today’s post was the answer! It was a joy to read.
    Thank you so much.

  32. Nancy
    June 22, 2020 / 4:47 am

    Yes I loved to read this. What a powerful woman and I love her style! Thanks!

  33. Louvetta
    June 22, 2020 / 4:22 am

    I loved every look.
    Fun, fabulous, fresh ideas to assist your inner style.

  34. Paulette Levy
    June 22, 2020 / 3:36 am

    What a lovely, courageous and inspiring lady. Her fashion choices are bold, bright and comforting, it seems. Comfortable too. (She points that out).
    Jennifer, you too, exude fashion know-how. You know what works for you and wear it with confidence! That’s why so many of us follow you. You are my Rock Star of fashion!

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