Kathleen O'Bryan Kurrle has been "dragged through glass," battling cancer for two years now. The 38-year-old mother of three discovered a lump on her breast just before Christmas in December 2008 while breastfeeding her then 3-month old girl. Within six weeks, the cancer spread to her liver and bones. By June 2009, it reached her brain.
It was terrifying for her and her family, writing her will and "doing all these things to get ready to die." But then she reached a point where she wasn't afraid any more. She didn't allow the cancer any power.
"You see this grim reaper in your face and feel defeated by it, and then all of sudden you say, 'no,'" O'Bryan Kurrle said. "I'm not going to die from this no matter what the statistics are."
O'Bryan Kurrle, a River Forest resident, is a regular customer at Baubo's Garden lingerie boutique at 7234 W. Madison St., and her story served as inspiration for the latest endeavor of Baubo's owner Eden DeGenova. DeGenova partnered with design students from Dominican University, and come October, store windows along Madison Street will be festooned with hand-decorated bras to raise breast cancer awareness.
The art exhibit, "Beauty in the Bra," is meant to not only bring attention to the disease, but also empower women to "look at their strengths and not their faults," DeGenova said.
She provided students with plain white bras and information about different goddesses, which they are to incorporate into the design as the overall theme of the project.
"The goddess myths universally represent women as empowered, wise and symbols of inner strength," DeGenova said. "I can't think of any other way to think of all those women who battle breast cancer every day of their lives."
DeGenova also wants all women to know that they, too, have many of the same powerful attributes that the goddesses embody. It's the same feeling of empowerment that she hopes to instill in women through the lingerie at her store. For O'Bryan Kurrle, wearing bright and colorful undergarments from Baubo's helped her get out of a sweatpants-funk and start to feel sexy again.
"I don't have hair, but at least I have something fun underneath," O'Bryan Kurrle said. "Just because I am sick doesn't mean I have to look and dress sick."
O'Bryan Kurrle said she is very excited to see what the students designed for the 14 storefront windows, 11 in Forest Park and three in Oak Park.
"Awareness doesn't always have to be down and dreary and black," she said. "You can have art and creativity with awareness. Keeping it upbeat with a serious, horrible disease, I think that's awesome."