The Frosting Company
words | Brittney and Gabrielle Flank @frostingcompany
photography | AnneMarie Hamant
Sisters, Side by Side
Sometimes life can be completely unfair, but how we react to what life throws at us is more powerful than you think! Being a teenager is tough, that’s why friends or so important! They’re there when we’re happy and when things are great, but they also help us when things aren’t so great. Sometimes, you're lucky enough to have a sister or brother who’s a friend, or a friend who feels like family. We were lucky enough to find Brittney and Gabrielle. They’re not just sisters, they’re best friends. Life has been pretty darn unfair to both of them, but the way they reacted to what was given to them is inspiring. Don’t worry, it’s a happy ending!
At the young ages of 16 and 10, our lives were drastically changed forever. The way we lived and what we knew to be a normal day was something that had become foreign to us. The event that shook our family strengthened our beliefs. It left us praying for a life to be saved, and it was the very thing we now view as a blessing. In 2008 at the age of 10, Gabrielle was diagnosed with leukemia.
At 10, you're still a child with a vivid imagination, dolls to play with and hair to braid. Then you're told you won’t have hair anymore.
Brittney's side: I had so many emotions that were overflowing. I didn't know what to do with everything I felt because I knew I had to be strong for her. I was frightened, and I felt helpless. My whole life I had been the big sister to the rescue. I always understood her and knew how to help, this time, I was stumped. I chose to stay with my sister and give up a lot of the usual teenage things, even prom. I knew she could be taken at a moment's notice. Gabrielle was sick from my junior year of high school until after my freshman year in college. I chose a college 35 minutes away from my house so that I could help. I was taught how amazing the gift of family is. My experience as a caregiver at 16 wasn't easy, but it has taught me a lot of valuable lessons that shaped me to who I am today.
Gabrielle's side: I don't think I could fully comprehend how sick I really was. My parents and doctors were completely open with me about my treatment, blood count, and plan for the next phase of chemotherapy. I was always in and out of the hospital, and there were very few times when I felt well enough to go anywhere. I didn't get to see any of my friends at school, and I was very isolated from the world outside the pediatric oncology floor and my family. Many of my best friends who were also cancer patients did pass away. My doctors and hospital staff were like an extended family who we grew to love!
At a very young age, I learned about the gift of life and how much of a gift it truly is. I just knew I had to fight every day so I could see the next. Being sick at such a young age has shaped me as a person. I learned how much I love my family, my amazing parents, and my best friend, my sister. I learned how life is a gift and ordinary things like being able to walk without help and brushing your hair are things to appreciate. My faith in God gave me strength that whatever came my way, I’d be OK. I hit my five-year mark in November 2015 and am officially cured.
As a result of our experience, together we opened our own bath and beauty company founded on sisterhood and a passion for healthy beauty products called The Frosting Company. After two and a half years of harsh chemotherapy treatments, Gabrielle is doing well. Because of her diagnosis, we became aware of the harmful chemicals and toxins in many beauty products. We wanted to create products that were free of gluten, parabens, sulfates, and phthalates. We also wanted to make sure that our products were never tested on animals.
We choose not to let cancer knock us to the ground, but to get up and fight. Fight together. We knew we needed to make sure that good came out of this experience, and it did.