At first glance, you might not think siblings whose styles diverge so much would be super close. Maybe you wouldn’t imagine them collaborating on a clothing line or an international video sensation that addresses gender equality and LGBTQ issues.
But if the sisters are Loren and Lindzey Schaffer, you’d be oh-so-very wrong.
“People have always been curious about Loren and me as sisters, we’re so different,” Lindzey told Project Q Atlanta. “Loren always hypes me up about how amazing and unique I am, and that people need to hear my story and know about me.”
The LGBTQ local, who is a veteran promoter on Atlanta’s nightlife scene, went viral on TikTok in a matter of hours last month for her androgyny, unique style and family bonds.
“Loren felt maybe other androgynous people could relate to me,” Lindzey remembered. “She also wanted to show what it looks like to support family and that it’s OK to be different.”
Then bigoted comments about Lindzey’s skater style inspired a third post that became a global sensation. In the video, Loren slammed pre-conceived notions about gender and sexuality.
In less than a day, the post racked up an amazing 10 million views and countless messages of support. It’s the kind of “going viral” most people hear about but never experience. Both sisters were humbled by the results, but Loren said she wasn’t surprised.
“I knew it would blow up,” Loren remembered. “I made the TikTok and said to her, ‘I hope you know that when I press this button you’re going to be famous. … I had been telling her for years, ‘People just need to see you, if they knew about you, they’d love you.’”
Inspired and inspiring
Of course, viewers didn’t miss the video references to Lindzey’s stage IV cancer. In January 2020, the 29-year-old faced a diagnosis that’s all too familiar in her family. The women’s mom had cancer, their aunt has it now, and they lost their dad to colon cancer in 2017.
“My entire life changed overnight,” Lindzey said. “When the doctor told me ‘stage IV,’ I felt like I was floating in a dream. That’s the only way I can explain it. I just lost my dad to this. ‘There’s no way. I refuse to believe it.’ I instantly switch on warrior mode. I will beat this.”
She sees the battle as much as a fateful duty as a personal challenge, she said.
“I want to help as many people as I can that have cancer and people who struggle showing the world who they are,” Lindzey added. “I was meant for this.”
After the initial shock of the news, big sister Loren recognized that fighting spirit. It’s a perfect example of who Lindzey is as a person, she said.
“Lindzey is selfless. She’s always trying to help people,” Loren said. “Friends, family, strangers, spoiling our nephews. She’s very giving. She truly believes she’s going through this whole cancer thing so she can inspire and help others. I agree, wholeheartedly.”
Donations poured into a GoFundMe for Lindzey started by their older sister Lisa. The campaign is nearing its $50,000 goal.
“The GoFundMe support has been life-changing for Lindzey,” Loren said. “Every single cent counts. Aside from medical bills, things like raw vegan organic foods, herbs, supplements, holistic treatments are not covered by insurance, and we are trying everything. Every time we see a new donation we start crying.”
Both siblings credit Lisa as their “glue” and ‘the one that keeps us sane.” In addition to the fundraising campaign, Lisa accompanied Lindzey to every medical appointment. Other friends and family have donated, raised funds and comforted Lindzey through tough times.
“Fundraisers were held by skateparks, yoga studios, tattoo shops and local artists,” Lindzey said. “Now Loren’s TikToks about me have people sending love and prayers from all over the world. I am so beyond grateful.”
Loren said that she feels the same way.
“We are floored by the outpouring of love, support and adoration for our family,” Loren said. “We can physically feel the positive energy, prayers, and well wishes our followers are sending our way.”
Lindzey is not out of the woods with her cancer. In turn, none of the siblings show signs of stopping their fight against it.
“I’m fighting every day,” Lindzey said. “I need to get better and show the world it’s possible.”
“There are some tough moments, but I’m feeling so much better than I was a few months ago,” she added. “I’m so grateful for positive vibes, virtual hugs and prayers.”
Fresh TikToks continue to drop as a fun way for the sisters to bond.
“Seeing Lindzey’s strength and dedication to her diet, positive energy and strict cancer-fighting regimen, I am 100 percent positive she will beat it,” Loren said. “I’m committed to feeding her with as many laughs as possible.”
Those laughs include hilarious candid moments and badass curated content. There’s also a tearjerker for Breast Cancer Awareness Month on YouTube. The latest TikTok looks at the pair’s burgeoning sense of style while growing up:
With a lifetime of memories that grow every day, the women still seem to look forward more than back.
“It’s always been our dream to create a unisex clothing line together,” Loren said. “We’ve already started on it! We’re shooting for Spring 2021.”
The Schaffer drive includes a sense that they are lucky, despite their history with cancer. Inspiring others is something of a shared mission.
“We realize how fortunate we are,” Loren said. “Our parents always loved and supported our differences. We have a very close-knit family. Our heart goes out to people with little or no support who are unable to fully be themselves.”
“Always be yourself,” she said. “Surround yourself with people who lift you up and make you want to be a better person.”
Every day can be a chance to start, the sisters agreed.
“We hope we can inspire others to be true to who they are, be kind and stay strong,” Loren said. “As Lindzey would say, ‘Get up, make your bed and get dressed.’ And she means dressed, honey!”