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After Suffering Chemotherapy-Related Foot Pain, Ovarian Cancer Survivor Creates Line Of Comfortable Shoes

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- A cancer survivor is turning pain into purpose.

The former luxury shoe executive found the side effects from chemotherapy treatment made it difficult to wear most of her shoes, so she created a solution for herself and others, CBS2's Lisa Rozner reported Thursday.

"For one full year we worked on this shoe," Nelli Kim said.

The shoes signify the path that has taken Kim from a 39-year-old diagnosed with ovarian cancer to, years later, an entrepreneur launching footwear to comfort others physically and emotionally.

Back in 2016, doctors told her she had a 30% chance of survival, but she's now four years cancer free.

During and after chemotherapy, she said there was a side effect she didn't expect.

"Intense foot pain. It was numbness, tingling, cramping," Kim said.

Nelli Kim
(Photo: Nelli Kim)

Kim said she found she could no longer wear anything from the shoe collection she amassed as a vice president of footwear for two decades at Bergdorf Goodman.

The longtime Upper East Side resident learned she wasn't alone.

"It was something I'd hear about from other people," Kim said.

So, two years ago, the idea for the shoe line RĒDEN was born. It stands for "Restoration to Eden," alluding to restoring foot health for men and women.

"My definition of comfortable shoes completely changed after my health journey," Kim said.

In developing the shoes, Kim consulted with an orthopedic surgeon from the Hospital for Special Surgery specifically about the insoles -- the kind, she says, that usually go inside sneakers.

"And we added things like this memory foam for blisters, because this idea of breaking in your shoes is just not modern," Kim said. "It's literally my savings going into this, but I believe in it so much that I think this could really help people."

Kim said 50% of the profits go to the American Cancer Society. She spent her marketing budget on sponsoring a series of survivors' stories with the nonprofit, hoping people know, "We all go through things, but we're more beautiful because of our scars."

Kim is also the daughter of Korean immigrants and lived downtown during 9/11. She said no matter what the journey, everyone should feel comfortable walking a mile in their own shoes.

Each pair costs $195 and are only sold on Kim's website. The first shipment is scheduled to go out next month, just in time for the holidays.

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