'Yes to Dress' Cancer Survivor: Support Crashed Store Computer

PHOTO: Lori Allen of "Say Yes to the Dress Atlanta"PlayCourtesy of TLC
WATCH 'Say Yes to the Dress': Lori's Fight

Lori Allen, whose struggle with breast cancer was highlighted last year on the TV show "Yes to the Dress Atlanta," received so many emails from supportive viewers that they crashed her bridal store computer.

"People get to know us as characters, and they see us in real life and real time," she said of the reality show. "They stop me everywhere and ask how I am doing. I received thousands of letters, prayer shawls and prayer blankets."

Allen acknowledged that surviving breast cancer had been an uphill battle, even for someone as motivated and energetic as she is. The 54-year-old bridal shop owner had a double mastectomy last year and was pronounced cancer-free.

"When I got breast cancer, I thought, 'I can take care of this,'" she told ABCNews.com. "I am the kind of person who takes charge. But it takes a full year or more to recover from all this."

Allen has had two more surgeries to reconstruct her breasts since last season. "I am still sore," she said. "But I am doing great. I am stronger every day."

Now, in a television special to mark October's National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Allen is meeting for the first time a three-time cancer survivor whom she helped outfit for a 25-year vow renewal ceremony.

The show, an update to "Say Yes to the Cure: Lori's Fight" airs tonight at 8 p.m ET/PT.

DeLese Range has battled cancer -- ovarian, breast and now lung and lymph node -- for 23 years of her 25-year marriage. She and husband Lonzie, who live in Carollton, Texas, celebrated their marriage in June in a dress provided by Allen.

"When I first got married, I borrowed my brother's girlfriend's dress and wore it at 2 o'clock -- she wore it that night to the prom," Range, now 44, told ABCNews.com last year.

Range never had the opportunity to meet the woman who had generously donated her wedding dress, because Allen was in the hospital at the time.

"After she left, she raised the spirits of the store," said Allen. "But now, I actually got to meet DeLese. We were kindred spirits and immediately hit it off. I think when people have been through the same thing, you just do. You understand each other."

According to Allen, Range is "doing OK."

"She is stable -- but she had a far bigger battle than I did," said Allen, who was diagnosed in 2012 in a 7 a.m. phone call from her doctor.

"I was not even going to go get a mammogram this year," she said at the time. "I am healthy as a horse and haven't missed a day of work in five years. I had no lump. I was just busy running a business."

Her business is Bridals by Lori, and since the cancer diagnosis, surgery and recovery she has used it as a platform to inspire and help other women with the disease.

An estimated one in eight women will develop breast cancer during her lifetime, according to the American Cancer Society. It is the most common cancer among American women, except for skin cancer. About 39,620 women will die from breast cancer this year. It is the second-leading cause of cancer deaths in women, after lung cancer.

"It turned my world upside down," said Allen.

She was so terrified by her breast cancer diagnosis she "couldn't say the word for five days." But Allen approached TLC, which produces her show, and offered to tell her story. Three days after the doctor's call, TV crews began filming.

Allen was looking for a woman who had survived breast cancer to help her make wedding dreams come true. She found Range through the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation.

In 1989, two years after her makeshift wedding and pregnant with her second child, Range was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. She recovered after chemotherapy and radiation, but in 2001, Range found out she had stage-four breast cancer.

"We had a nurse seven days a week and had to put a hospital bed in the bedroom next to my husband," she said. After aggressive treatment, Range was prepped for a mastectomy.

"We were in the hospital, and the doctor came in and sat us down. He said, 'I don't think we have to do it now.'"

X-rays revealed that she had gone into complete remission without treatment. Medical experts were baffled, but Range was overjoyed.

"They can't explain it," she said. But a decade later, in 2011, Range would face yet another cancer diagnosis. This time it was lung cancer, even though she had never smoked. And then, another blow -- doctors found unrelated cancer in her lymph nodes and she is now back on chemotherapy.

Range and Lonzie had hoped to renew their marriage vows in 2012, but cancer stood in the way. "When the chemo came up, we couldn't do it financially," she said. "It was going to have to wait."

But when Bridals by Lori sought a breast cancer survivor, Range's husband, 46, who is a minister and also works for the U.S. Postal Service, responded. He wrote a letter to the Komen foundation explaining their story.

Allen said her own recovery took a full year. In reconstructive surgery, doctors moved muscles from her back forward, weakening her strength.

"When I first came home, I couldn't even get a coffee cup out of the cupboard," she said. "But I am working on that."

As for the show's upcoming special, she said, "It's about hope. That's my take. I am no different than anyone else.

"What I loved about last year's show is they didn't sugar coat it," said Allen. "Some days I was furious I had breast cancer. But this special is about how strong we are and our hope for the future. We are happy to be here as breast cancer survivors."