News & Events

Survivors in Fashion shine in the spotlight

October 22, 2011

A nearly packed Fox Theater experienced a message of hope and inspiration at the 2011 Survivors in Fashion Extravaganza Thursday night at Foxwoods Resort Casino.

Nineteen stunning models — all breast cancer survivors — took the stage as a fundraiser for the Backus Hospital Breast Cancer Survivors Fund.

The event, along with the rest of this year’s breast cancer support initiatives, raised $70,000 for local cancer patients. Funds raised through the years have been used to develop the Breast Health Patient Navigator Program, upgrade to digital mammography, and implement the L-Dex system for early lymphedema detection. The goal of the show was two-fold: to give hope, vision and comfort after a cancer diagnosis; and to inspire, entertain and inform the community about early detection and cancer-related resources.

Backus President and Chief Executive Officer Dave Whitehead said, “Because of the input from our patients — comments and suggestions made by some of you here tonight — we have been able to strengthen the Patient Navigator Program, and make it even more meaningful. Your gifts help make this navigation system possible. You should feel proud.”

Part flashback to the 1970s, and part hip-hop, the show featured a variety of musical hits including “Hey Soul Sister,” “We Are Family,” and “I Will Survive.” The evening’s entertainment included local talented artists such as Nicolas King, Angela Bacari, Lisa Ferraro, Al Lorenzo and Sarah Clark.

The ages of the models ranged decades, with the oldest being 87-year-old Florence Barth. A remarkable woman, Ms. Barth has overcome breast cancer three times in her life — in 1972, 1992 and 2002. In addition, her daughter, Sandy Wayne, also a Survivors in Fashion model, is a 16-year breast cancer survivor. The women’s mother/daughter relationship was taken to an even higher level as they supported each other through cancer.

Dinesh Kapur, MD, Medical Director of Cancer Services at Backus, repeated his familiar refrain that fundraising events like Survivors in Fashion allow local patients to receive the best cancer care, close to home. He also praised the women he affectionately refers to as the “crazy breast cancer ladies” for the example they set by “enjoying life” no matter what obstacles they face.

Rose Gerber, an eight-year breast cancer survivor and mother of two teens, was keynote speaker. She thanked everyone in the audience for their support of cancer survivors and helping to provide hope for the future.

“It truly means everything,” the East Lyme resident said.

Survivors in Fashion, organized by co-chairs and cancer survivors Barbara Chiangi and Donna Palumbo, was made possible by major sponsors including the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation and Foxwoods Resort Casino, and the Backus Hospital Medical Staff.

“I would like to thank the Survivors in Fashion Committee and our sponsors for making this event so successful,” said Genevieve Schies, Director of the Office of Philanthropy and Development. “Survivors in Fashion is a large undertaking requiring a huge commitment from so many people. The outpouring of support has been tremendous.”