Dianne Mooney is battling her third breast cancer diagnosis. Natives of Pennsylvania, Dianne and her husband Bill were transferred to Birmingham in the early 1970s and Dianne began working at Southern Living as a publicist in the book division Oxmoor House. When she was in her mid-30s, Dianne discovered a small lump in her right breast. With it being the early 1980s, standard procedure was a painful, needle biopsy and surgery to remove her breast and all her lymph nodes. A year later she had a TRAM flap reconstruction. "It didn't look much like a breast, but it was something I could put in a bra," says Dianne. She was diagnosed with breast cancer a second time nearly 20 years later. This time the cancer revealed itself has lower back pain. This time she was treated with radiation and Tamoxifin. Then, in February 2022, Dianne lost her husband Bill to pancreatic cancer. "I have no question that stress was the cause of my compromised immune system enabling those errant cancer cells in my body to take hold once again," says Dianne. She began experiencing pain under her left arm that a doctor discovered was caused by a small tumor that had travelled from a larger tumor underneath her TRAM flap. "Take Ibrance with Femara is now the regimen that will likely be de rigueur the rest of my life," says Dianne. She continues:
"There was no Forge when I was new to breast cancer. My tendency had always been to be stoic which was decidedly unhealthy. I didn’t even want to discuss my “feelings” with my husband which was a missed opportunity to grow together - for sure. For the last seven years of my career, I was founder and president of Southern Living At HOME – a national direct selling company focused on mostly tabletop décor. It was a high-stress career but at the same time very satisfying. I helped improve the “quality of life” for many people, but it’s now time to focus on my own quality of life. Now retired, I’m smart enough to know that I’m on bonus time, so glad to know that Forge is available to those wise enough to use its resources to their benefit. It’s a world of support at a very scary time of life."
Kenya B. is a dreamer, believer and entrepreneur. Those characteristics are what drive this colorful designer. After working in corporate America for more than 10 years, she decided it was time to pursue her fashion dreams. She enrolled in the University of Alabama's apparel design program and graduated magna cum laude in 2016. Kenya B. has gained notable recognition, including winning Emerging Designer at the 2017 Magic City Fashion Week. She has also shown her work in fashion shows through the South and in a showcase during New York Fashion Week. Deemed a Southern luxury designer for her bold prom and bridal gowns, Kenya accepts more than 20 teenagers who she designs prom gowns for, calling them her KENYA DOLLS. During that process, she mentors them, preparing them for life after high school and how to live a purposeful life. Kenya's philosphy is "it's more than a gown." She also gives back by teaching sewing and fashion to young students interested in fashion.