A "seriously uplifting experience," Bra-ha-ha is both a competition and exhibit that supports overall breast health and the early detection and treatment of breast cancer. "Bra-ha-ha has really been a way to use humor in bringing awareness to what’s otherwise a scary topic," says Angela McPike, Bra-ha-ha spokesperson. All proceeds benefit the Chesapeake Regional Breast Center at Chesapeake Regional Medical Center, in Virginia.
Sisters Courtney and Ashley Branham designed the 2009 overall winner in honor of their mother, who finished her last chemo treatment in August 2009. The two say they entered the contest to help raise awareness and pay tribute to the woman they admire so much.
Carrie Pernell, who works in the oncology field, was inspired by the beautiful spirits who’ve passed through her doors. "At times we have laughed with them, cried, prayed and helped them deal with their anger and anxieties," she wrote.
Karen Lee Carter’s sense of humor embodies what the Bra-ha-ha competition is all about. After getting implants after a mastectomy, Carter realized how closely she resembled her nickname, Barbie. "I joked with my friends that I now have perfect boobies, just like Barbie’s," she wrote. "Creating this bra deepened my gratitude as a survivor."
Mandy Philbrick realized how important self-breast exams really are after a friend was diagnosed with breast cancer not detected by a mammogram. "As upsetting as this news was, this special lady, from Day 1, has kept a positive attitude and even a sense of humor about her breast cancer," she wrote. For her hoot of a design, Philbrick was awarded 2009’s Most Inspirational.
Designed by Kathy Simmons and Karen Chafin, this dog-gone good bra was canine-inspired. The description reads, "May we continue to be as steadfast seeking a cure for breast cancer as our furry companions are at taking care of us with their loyalty, unconditional love and their never-ending determination to always find the bone…the cure." The two won 2009’s People’s Choice.
Anna Sosa designed this bra with one woman in mind-Debbie Hope-a survivor of Hodgkin’s lymphoma and a positive influence on her childhood. Sosa created this piece with plaster, yarn, glue, feathers, thread and white paint. "Here’s to all the creative, beautiful, loving, all-around-fun-to-be-with Debbies who deserve to be cured," she wrote. "You’re all majesties."
Penny Schults created "Missing You" with her sister, Angela Weaver, in mind. "This bra is to celebrate the flowers of summer that were in full bloom when Angela passed, her service in the US Air Force, and the vines that connect the men and women who stand strong in their fight against cancer," she wrote.
Thanks to an online support group called Friends in Touch, Debra Gibson started calling her breast cancer "the beast." Each time she went to chemotherapy she began visualizing an epic battle between knights in armor and beastly dragons.
Amanda Owens’ seven daughters have all designed and embellished bras for Bra-ha-ha since the event began three years ago. Owens’ contribution is the final installment in the Seven Wonder Bras of the World series. She says her entry, "The Next Wonder," exemplifies the cure.
"Just as that first cup of coffee every morning is a "must have," breast health must also be a priority in our lives," wrote Angela Hayes, last year’s second place winner. Breast cancer can be detected much earlier than before, says McPike, making it even more important for women to get mammograms.
When designing 2009’s Most Creative bra, Cindy Thomas wanted to include "all the elements a woman can’t live without, including the importance of getting a mammogram." The digital mammography technology that is available these days is amazing, McPike says, and so are minimally invasive surgical techniques.
This angelic bra, designed by women’s lingerie company Cosabella, was created to inspire women to never lose hope. Made with white feathers and pink lily crystals, this piece was auctioned off at the 2009 Bra-ha-ha opening gala. Cosabella is now a national sponsor and partner of the first Bra-ha-ha event to take place outside of Hampton Roads, Virginia. Bra-ha-ha is coming to Long Island, New York in October 2010. To participate, visit brahaha.org.
NEXT: Celebs Who Survived Breast Cancer