On Sunday, December 3, about 175 supporters of the Breast Cancer Resource Center (BCRC) enjoyed hearing uplifting stories of survival as they watched breast cancer survivors model fashions. It was BCRC’s 10th annual Holiday Tea and Fashion Show at the Four Seasons Biltmore, which raised funds for essential support services and educational programs for women dealing with breast cancer.
Before lunch, guests mingled, shopped in the boutique, perused silent auction items, and entered the pick and choose raffle. After being seated for lunch in the Loggia Ballroom, which was festively adorned for the holidays, guests were greeted by Board President Rose Hodge. She shared how for 20 years, BCRC has been providing a welcoming environment of caring support and educational materials and programs, all of which help women deal with the challenges of breast cancer.
Executive Director Silvana Kelly thanked supporters, whose donations allow BCRC to provide peer counseling, integrative care programs including reiki, reflexology, and lymphatic massage, support services, and educational materials and programs.
A mushroom quiche and salad lunch was followed by tea and decadent desserts and the highlight of the afternoon: the fashion show, which featured eight former BCRC clients modeling fashions from Talbots.
While each model stood on stage, Kelly read thoughts written by the model about her struggle with breast cancer and how the BCRC helped her cope. Then Talbots Store Manager Kathleen Waltrip-Gardella provided narration of the outfits, while DJ Darla Bea spun the tunes and BCRC clients strutted down the runway with the style and panache of professional models.
Model Julie Koonce shared how she had to undergo surgery, chemotherapy and radiation and still has a 25 percent chance of recurrence of cancer somewhere in her body. She didn’t know how she was going to cope with the cancer, along with caring for her husband, children, and two disabled relatives, and related how grateful she was for the support services and integrative care services she received. The best part, according to Koonce, was how everyone was so positive, helpful and concerned, and she stated simply that “I am not sure I would have survived without the BCRC.”
Model Andrea Hutton shared her gratitude for BCRC, commenting that although her family is amazing, there is nothing like talking to women who have been through the same experience. Model Rene Baird called BCRC’s staff “angels on earth.”
Each story shared by the models was unique, but all were uplifting stories of survival and related the women’s enormous gratitude for the many ways BCRC helped them cope.
Last year, BCRC provided support services to 282 women through 1,330 visits and provided educational programming to thousands more. It operates with a lean staff of four and a legion of volunteers. Many of BCRC’s counselors are breast cancer survivors, who can relate especially well to the needs of clients. All services are offered free of charge.
For more information, go to bcrcsb.org.
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By Gail Arnold