National Dress Day

the fresco shift dress in black ikat

When asked to contribute a blog post about National Dress Day, March 6, to “pay homage to dresses and the magical moments that happen when we wear them,” I knew immediately the moment I would have to write about. It happened while I was wearing one of our Mata dresses, the Fresco Shift Dress in Black Ikat. And it was a magical moment, to be sure, in terms of feeling miraculous, but it was also a moment I would rather forget. I am a cancer survivor and in July of 2018 I participated in a cancer patient’s tradition: I rang a ceremonial bell to celebrate the end of my radiation treatment. 

Celebrate Dress Memories on National Dress Day

The moment was truly magical for obvious reasons; my treatment had been successful and I was that much closer to being cured.  

When I undertook the difficult task of informing our producer partners about my condition, one of the directors in India replied: “[I] feel very relieved to hear that you are on the path to recovery already. I trust the medical care that you get there. Anyone with money here go[es] to the States for cancer treatment and come[s] back perfect. I am glad you are in safe hands and in a better country to deal with situations like this.”  

Every day since I rang that bell, I feel more jubilant, more fortunate, more thankful for my situation, my strength, and for the people in my life. Yet all the while I am aware that even surviving cancer, having access to the financial, medical, social and psychological support networks that made that possible, is a privilege. Insurance is a privilege. Disparity in cancer care is the norm. It is, in fact, why groups like Gilda’s Club and Imerman’s Angels and Phil’s Friends exist; to provide the support, free of charge, that marginalized communities cannot often access but that cancer patients and their families require to mount a robust challenge in defense of their health. And I too benefited from these organizations and the networks and resources they connected me to. My successful prognosis is a credit to both the high quality healthcare I received at a Community Cancer Center and the support group I joined through Gilda’s Club. These organizations are doing impactful work to provide support networks for everyone in the community. 

Paying homage to a dress I wore on a journey from patient to survivor makes me grateful for the resources I am able to access, and also committed to helping others create or access them. Thinking back to that day, in that dress, when I rang that bell, made me want to ask all of you: what have you done in a dress? I am certain that you have each survived something more significant, more impactful, more powerful, then I have. Share your stories with us on Instagram @matatraders or email them to me at michelle [at] matatraders [dot] com. I would love to read them. And maybe next year, on National Dress Day 2022, instead of sharing my story, we can share yours.