Wake County

Fashion show turns breast cancer survivors into models

Models take a final walk down the runway during the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer of Raleigh Survivor's Fashion Show at Crabtree Valley Mall on Saturday, March 25, 2017.
Models take a final walk down the runway during the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer of Raleigh Survivor's Fashion Show at Crabtree Valley Mall on Saturday, March 25, 2017. newsobserver.com

There aren’t a lot of pretty days for women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer.

Cancer treatments are brutal, causing patients to lose their hair, self-esteem and appetite, as well as creating skin issues.

A fashion show Saturday afternoon gave an enthusiastic boost to 10 breast cancer survivors who strutted down pink-carpeted runways in front of well over 100 people near the entrance to Macy’s at Crabtree Valley Mall.

The Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Fashion Show, now in its fifth year, is sponsored by the American Cancer Society in Raleigh.

“The fashion show gives us an opportunity to dote on them, to make them pretty, to fix them up,” said Tracey Smith, a senior manager with the American Cancer Society. “Because if you look good, you feel better.”

The color pink is symbolic of the breast cancer survivor’s journey. Pink runways, pink lemonade, pink cupcakes and pink floral arrangements were the order of the day to honor the models who are survivors of breast cancer and have completed or are undergoing treatments.

A Raleigh band, Royal Phlush, featuring Phoenix Lei, played a lively mix of rhythm and blues, go-go and inspirational music.

Community partners including volunteers, small businesses and the band contributed everything from cupcakes to music, while Macy’s donated the space, makeup, apparel and accessories.

Smith said the fashion show is one of a series of events that culminates with the 11th Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk in Raleigh on Oct. 14.

The annual event raises awareness about the disease and funds for breast cancer research. All the models have survived the disease for periods ranging from nine months to seven years, said Juanita Taylor, an American Cancer Society spokeswoman and four-year survivor.

We were totally like high school girls, enjoying the makeup and the pampering and a few minutes to forget everything else.

Tara Sparks of Johnston County

One of the models, Tara Sparks, a 43-year-old wife and mother who lives in Johnston County, was diagnosed with breast cancer on Nov. 23, 2015, and completed her chemotherapy treatments on May 20. Sparks said she and the other models were “giggly, nervous,” before the start of the fashion show.

“Oh gosh, we were totally like high school girls, enjoying the makeup and the pampering and a few minutes to forget everything else,” she said. “It was truly amazing.”

Sparks, who had undergone a bilateral mastectomy, chemotherapy and breast reconstruction, said her favorite part of the show was the evening wear segment. She wore a black dress with a low cut that accentuated the scars from her bilateral mastectomy.

“The dress fit like a T,” she said. “I really felt proud of where I came from and where I am today. I would have never imagined that after coming from such an ugly experience, that I would be part of such a wonderful event.”

Thomasi McDonald: 919-829-4533, @tmcdona75589225

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