My 2nd Act feature essay – Don’t let cancer get the breast of you, by Jean Criss

    Don’t Let Cancer Get the BREAST of You!   That’s what I say.  I didn’t. Hello, my name is Jean Criss.   This is my 2nd act! I’m a 9-year BC survivor. Since my diagnosis in July 2007 and

Jean Criss



My story

Don’t Let Cancer Get the BREAST of You!   That’s what I say.  I didn’t.

SymbolHello, my name is Jean Criss.   This is my 2nd act!

SymbolI’m a 9-year BC survivor. Since my diagnosis in July 2007 and my last surgery in December 2010, that’s when I finally ‘jumped on the road to recovery’ after enduring 13 surgeries over 4 long years, for Stage 0 and Stage 1 bilateral breast cancer. It was crazy.

SymbolWhat I didn’t realize was that my body would reject so much. Initially bi-lateral lumpectomy followed by radiation.  Succumbed to bad skin allergies, I had to seek other options.  That led to a bi-lateral mastectomy with reconstructive surgery a few months later. I became one of the few research patients in the U.S. of the now FDA approved gummy bear gel implants.

SymbolI had many complications. In fact, I had my breast implants replaced 4X within the first 18 months. It was unheard of!!

  • I felt like the ‘Bionic Woman’ – 4 sets of Million dollar boobs.
  • I was ‘One in a Million’, they said over and over again. ‘Never happens’ – well it did!
  • I later learned that J. Lo’s legs were insured for less than my Ta-Tas! How about that!

SymbolI fought MRSA and a series of Breast Cellulitis infections, and then had a Fat Graph for corrective surgery, and finally called it a day.  My ‘bff’ all of the sudden became my Infectious Disease Doc!  I realized my mind, body and soul needed to heal — I was exhausted and an emotional wreck.

SymbolI couldn’t even shut the windows in my home.  It took me years of therapy to regain my upper body strength.  I lost most of the bicep muscle formation that I had worked so hard to form to wear that darn, beautiful sleeveless wedding dress from years ago.  But after cancer, you realize what’s really important and what’s not.

SymbolWhat followed was turmoil: Divorce, corporate unemployment, difficult co-parenting, home theft, you name it. I learned the definition of strength and perseverance.

SymbolWho would have thought a successful business woman would be in such a predicament? I know that I didn’t.  With no pre-nup, no family nearby and few shoulders to lean on, I put the metal to the pedal and moved forward.

SymbolI launched Jean Criss Media over 5 years ago and took my 25+ years in media and hi-tech to build a creative media services business. It’s been a real accomplishment to help local clients and a testament of my stamina.


SymbolNext, I became an Author of a Trilogy Series called “My Pain Woke Me Up”.  First, I documented my Breast Cancer journey in BLISS!  

SymbolI self-published 3 stories the first year and a half as a new author, adding humor and illustrations to portray my journeys.  I was on a roll!  Writing became good therapy after all that I had endured.

SymbolJust like when I began my first start-up, Beaded Baubles, LLC – a custom jewelry and accessory business I had for 7 consecutive years while working full-time in cable television.

SymbolI worked in media by day and beaded by night.  That was my pre-cancer therapy during the pre-divorce days.  I learned and adapted to change; I was like a sponge and pushed forward as an entrepreneur.  We all have to find our niche and ways to cope in life.

SymbolBut after I wrote BLISS something happened to me. I knew I could do more!  I said to myself. . . ‘Now someone needs to design a better bra for Survivors!’  Well, today that someone is me!

SymbolI wore such ugly, utilitarian and uncomfortable bras.  As a professional working woman, I designed , a collection of post-surgical bras, camis, hospital gowns, men’s vests and even medical scrubs for our caregivers.  I got so creative and applied my sales and marketing experience combined into one and figured out how to launch in the Fashion World.

SymbolI want men and women to feel confident and look beautiful or handsome, as it may be, throughout their post-surgical experience. This past Christmas, I received the best present ever.  My  utility patent got approved, and we’lI will go into manufacturing and production later this year.  The collection is revolutionary in design and will be sold thru e-commerce, specialty boutiques, retail and department stores.  It’s an exciting time and I am presently seeking funding.

SymbolAt the same time, I began blogging for leading Intimate Apparel Journals and have a column called #BreastBriefs and write monthly for other industry publications including New Focus Daily launching this April.  I write about my experiences, survivor stories, advanced solutions in breast health and wellness and new technologies.

  • My kids, now teens — one now in College and one in High School – honor students, both doing remarkably well. They have been my ROCK and reason I do what I do.  I love them very much!
  • And, my 9-year old dog – a pre-divorce gift that backfired on me. While my puppy stays by my side, the ‘other guy’ got the ‘pink slip’ twice! – pre-cancer and during post-recovery.  Cancer brings you resiliency and helps you see life clearer.

SymbolAfter all these and many more horrific experiences, I’ve documented them in NEW short reality stories entitled “From Sour Grapes and Bitter Grapefruit to Sweet Lemonade! How Self-Motivation, Perseverance & Happiness Can Change Your Life! being self-published later this year.  A sample chapter title to share. . .  “Breast Revolution – MRSA, Underwire and Nickel Bras”, crazy stories indeed.

SymbolMy recent focus has been all about breast health and wellness, family and growing my business.  It has been well worth it.  I’ve been told I am a multi-faceted media-preneur, tenacious and resilient.  I am a Survivor! I have found my way.

SymbolAt 28 years old, my first husband died tragically from an auto accident, another awful life experience.  He used to say ‘Stop and smell the roses Jean’.  Now I do every chance I get!  I buy myself flowers for beauty and joy.  Ever since I was a young widow, I’ve learned to appreciate what you have – no matter what life brings your way, you just get up off the mat somehow, each and every day.

SymbolBottom line – I’ve tried to add humor to my life as a way to cope. I try not to miss a beat, and will not let all the DOGMA drag me down, as our fearless leader Steve Jobs used to say – let it go!  I have.


SymbolI did not let cancer, or anything else for that matter, get the BREAST of me!


SymbolDon’t let cancer define you.  You can define who and what you are.  I am not only a single mother of two wonderful teens, I am now a Fashion Designer, Author, Blogger, Digital Media-preneur, Host of ‘Java with Jean’ Web Series, former Susan G. Komen Board of Trustee, and have held many other leadership positions.


SymbolWe are all survivors and I wish you all the breast!





Jean Poster


Jean Criss
About Jean Criss – Criss is an author, columnist for New Focus Daily, blogger and CEO of 3 LLCs - a multi-tasking entrepreneur. As founder and designer of, Jean designs luxury post-operative intimate apparel for women and men! Criss survived bilateral breast cancer (DCIS — Ductal Carcinoma In Situ), endured numerous surgeries and is a 10-year survivor.

As author of My Pain Woke Me Up trilogy series (1) BLISS! (2) Legal Injustice and (3) LIVE Your Dreams, and her next book is about short reality stories. BLISS! reveals her colorful journey from young widowhood thru the defeat of cancer and the pursuit of happiness.

Criss is now an accredited Bra Fitter and has earned many CME accredited Breast Cancer Management Certifications (est. 35 hours) from Columbia University, College of Physicians and Surgeons, Essentially Women and Anita Breast Care. CRISSCROSS Intimates received 3 ISO award-winning Accreditation Certificates by ABAC (American Board of Accreditation Certificates) and a new honorary recognition – the FABC award, for the fight against breast cancer. She also received a Certificate of Honour by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons–Patients of Courage: Triumph over Adversity Award and FUZE Beverages: Hero of Hope Award.

Criss served on the Board of Trustees: Susan G. Komen North Jersey Affiliate, produced award-winning PSAs and appeared in a few commercials which aired throughout the NYDMA market, co-chaired gala events, has received honorary awards, participates on their Speaker’s Bureau and works fundraising events. She continues to write about breast cancer research and advanced technologies and supports many charities to raise awareness nationwide.

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