Bright Pink's Lindsay Avner Discusses Friendship With Giuliana
On tomorrow night's finale of Giuliana & Bill, Giuliana joins forces with good friend and Bright Pink founder Lindsay Avner to throw Fab-Fest, an ultimate girls' day out complete with pampering, workouts and gifting. Before you catch that (airing at 8/7c on Style!), get to know the woman whom G leaned on during one of the toughest times in her life.
How did you and Giuliana meet? At what point did you start developing a close friendship with her?
We met two-and-a-half years ago. Our relationship started off in a business capacity. There was a corporate sponsor that we were both working with whose program benefited Bright Pink. It was very casual, and we would see each other at other events. I would say it was very social acquaintance-like. Then, we were shooting video webisodes in L.A. back in September, and I approached her about becoming a formal spokeswoman for Bright Pink. A week later, she reached out, asking if I would be around for a drink. We got together on a Sunday night at this fun, hip place, and we hung out there for three-and-a half hours. She started asking me a lot of questions about early stage breast cancer, and I remember thinking that was interesting because she seemed to know way too much. I just thought that she must have a friend who's dealing with it, and she's just gathering information. It wasn't until later in that conversation that she confided in me that she had been diagnosed. She told me no one else knew except her family, Bill and Bill's family. I was honored she bestowed such trust in me but I was still shocked. It was through that we started communicating quite often. She was incredible with just letting me into her journey.
G&B made the difficult decision to do a double mastectomy. How did you help them through all that?
I was at the St. Louis airport waiting for a flight where we hopped on a call to discuss the pro-con list they had started. At first, Giuliana wasn't sold on going the mastectomy route, but before she made the decision, I wanted her to see that a mastectomy did not have to be dis-figuring and like some of the scary pictures you find on the internet. I was in L.A. and went to her house and told her that she needed to let me show her what a mastectomy looks like. I joke that I felt like I was having a "beginner threesome" with her and Bill since I removed my top and took off my bra and told her, This is what an mastectomy looks like. She looked at my chest and was like, "That's it? Really? That's not bad at all. They look great, there are just a couple of scars, but I think scars are cool." Then, I told her that she had to feel them and see that they felt normal. They were a little bit firmer, but they were fine. Giuliana now credits that situation as the moment that really helped her decide to get the double mastectomy.
How was Giuliana leading up to the surgery? How did you prepare her for what she was about to endure?
I was the last person she talked to the night before she went into surgery, and I was one of the people anxiously waiting for Bill to give the "OK" that she had gotten out. After the surgery, it was just about trying to figure out the next steps and trying to figure out the emotions that went along with this experience. It's not easy. Just because you have the surgery doesn't mean it's over. You still need to adjust to your new life and the pain and discomfort that go along with a major surgery. You basically have to reestablish your new normal.
How were you feeling during that emotional time?
The opportunity to be there for a friend in that sort of way is just unmatched. It really can only be someone who has been there and walked in those shoes who can tell you what it looks like. For her, I know it was really comforting to hear because when you're diagnosed with breast cancer, you end up spending a lot of time on the Internet, and there's scary stuff on there. I'm glad I was able to help her not be as scared. I'm also glad that she caught it early and was able to have some really amazing cosmetic results. Leading up to the surgery, I really encouraged her to get her body as healthy and strong as possible: work out and eat right, cut back on salts. Something funny I told her after the surgery was that calories don't count for at least six weeks. I also sent her things that I thought were important for her to have. I got her thes really ugly purple pajamas that you actually see on the show that button up on the front so she could wear them in the hospital and while she had her drains.I told her, Wear them once and then just throw them out!
What was Giuliana's mindset like after the double mastectomy? How did she feel after everything?
After the surgery, we were talking almost every day. When I would ask her how she was doing, she would say, "Linds, we gotta work harder. We gotta do more for all the other girls out there." She was so focused on helping and serving other people. It was during that period that we came up with Fab-Fest. It was an iteration of events that we had previously done for two years called Fit-Fest, but obviously with Giuliana, we had to take it up ten notches and let's face it "fab" is such a better word.
Visit myStyle.com/GandB Tuesday, June 5, at 9p ET, following the East Coast airing of the finale, to log in and interact with G&B as they answer fan questions. You can submit your questions for them in advance HERE!