When battling cancer, fashion may be the furthest thing from your mind. Comfort may reign supreme—and rightfully so—but infusing your personal style into what you wear while undergoing treatment can create a sense of normalcy. As a cancer warrior herself, Dr. Kordai DeCoteau understands the importance of looking your best, even when you may not feel your best. DeCoteau, who goes by Dr. D for short, utilizes her own cancer journey and passion for fashion as a much-needed styling and self-care resource for those living with cancer.
Who is the woman responsible for helping cancer warriors take a more holistic approach to style? DeCoteau is a New Jersey-based podiatrist with an impressive and lengthy resume in the medical field. After completing her residency at St. Barnabas Hospital in the Bronx, she became the hospital’s first African American female podiatric surgical resident.
She currently works with The Heart Center of the Oranges in Essex County, New Jersey. DeCoteau says she started her side business, KD Styling, to help fellow professional women find their signature style. Her own cancer diagnosis changed the trajectory of her new business.
DeCoteau says she had suffered from fibroadenomas (non-cancerous masses) since her teens, but in December 2019, she received a different diagnosis. She had stage II breast cancer. DeCoteau says she wasn’t the only one affected by the news.
“Being a medical provider, my colleagues were emotionally affected,” says DeCoteau. “I was blessed to have my OB-GYN as one of my dearest friends who came with me and my sister, who is an attorney, to my breast oncology surgeon’s office. I had two doctors debate what was the best treatment for me. My medical oncologist is a colleague and her colleague is a good friend of mine. I had a team of smart women pushing for the best for me.”
Since her initial diagnosis last year, Dr. D has completed six rounds of TCHP (a chemotherapy treatment for early-stage breast cancers) and 21 rounds of radiation. She had a lumpectomy in May 2020 and underwent another surgery this December to remove fibroadenomas and her port catheter. Through the midst of her own treatment, DeCoteau has still found the time to be a style resource for her fellow cancer warriors.
“I was inspired to have a platform that was all things health, wellness and beauty for people affected by breast cancer, their caregivers and those who support us,” says DeCoteau. “Styling is the general term that encompasses all those things.”
Style isn’t just about what you put on your body. By DeCoteau’s definition, style is an attitude. It can also be a way of looking at a cancer diagnosis through a different lens.
“Breast cancer patients want to feel beautiful,” says DeCoteau. “Breast cancer patients want products that are environmentally-friendly, natural and safe for the body. Breast cancer patients want clothing they can look and feel good in while recovering at home. If you’ve had surgery, motion may be a bit restricted and easy pieces need to be accessible.”
Who better to know what breast cancer patients need than someone currently going through her own treatment? DeCoteau can relate to the women in her audience because she is in their shoes (or stylish slippers).
One way that DeCoteau reaches her community is through her YouTube talk show, “Talks with Dr. D.” She calls this show her “brain child.” After seeing so many unanswered questions in Facebook support groups, DeCoteau decided to go the extra mile. The interview style format allows both DeCoteau and her guests to have a relatable conversation.
Past interviews have included Nicole Ndzibah, CEO of the Caftan Cuties and retail business trainer for Tommy Hilfiger. DeCoteau also virtually sat down with the woman behind Reign Body, a Black-owned company that creates body butter, oils and scrubs custom for each client. DeCoteau notes the significance of beauty product customization for cancer patients or those with allergies.
“My goal is to educate while entertaining my audience,” she says. “I hope people can have questions that are lurking on their mind answered.”
DeCoteau uses her cancer diagnosis to become an advocate for others in her
situation. She continues to shine a light on others serving the community all while battling cancer herself. Although she doesn’t have all the answers, she does have the perspective to know how important it can be to ask questions.
“Knowledge is power,” says DeCoteau. “You need to ask every question you have. You need to find a support group for people going through a similar situation. You need family and/or friends when you don’t feel so good physically and emotionally.”
Through her talk show and styling services, DeCoteau says she strives to be a beacon of light to others. A doctor, a stylist and a cancer warrior, DeCoteau is a wealth of professional knowledge mixed with personal experience and a heavy dose of passion.
As a medical professional and active member of her sorority, The Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., Dr. D’s network is rich with brilliant women in a variety of fields. To reach Dr. D with questions, viewers can email or send a message on Instagram or Facebook.