News & Events

Fired up for hope

September 25, 2013

Survivors in Fashion show provides unique experience

More than just a fashion show, Survivors in Fashion is a statement of hope and perseverance that touches the audience and the community in a truly unique way.

Barbara Chiangi is co-producer/director of the show, as well as a two-time breast cancer survivor.

“If we touch even one person in the audience, we will have achieved our goal,” Mrs. Chiangi said. “We want to let people living with cancer know that they can go on with their lives, and dance and sing. The show is really about giving people hope after diagnosis.”

The goal of this event is to raise $100,000 for the Backus Breast Cancer Survivors Fund.

With the help of the Breast Cancer Survivors Fund, Backus has made a significant investment in breast health. These important initiatives, which include the Breast Health Patient Navigator Program, an upgrade to digital mammography, purchase of the Hologic Specimen Radiography System, and most recently, the début of The Boutique at Backus.

“These initiatives are enabling our health system to improve care by enhancing the detection and monitoring of breast cancer, providing earlier and more advanced treatments and transforming the overall patient experience,” said Genevieve Schies, Backus Director of Development.

The Hologic Specimen Radiography System in the Breast Imaging Department was purchased in the spring of 2012. The equipment allows stereotactic breast biopsies to run more smoothly than before and without interruption. A patient’s overall time on the biopsy table has decreased, which translates to less discomfort. Surgical breast patients also benefit, as the system provides faster turnaround times of specimens from the Operating Room.

“We have found the specimen system to be very user-friendly, and the images are state-of-the-art,” said Stacy Spooner, MD, Backus radiologist and Section Chief of Breast Imaging.  “It serves as a nice compliment to the other imaging services that we offer – all made possible by support from the Backus Breast Cancer Survivors Committee and Backus Breast Cancer Survivors Fund.”

The Boutique at Backus is the latest expansion of the Cancer Center. It offers personal care and support items for patients undergoing various treatments for different types of cancer, as well as resources meant to assist in healing the mind, body and soul.

“The Boutique at Backus represents many things — resources, convenience, empathy and compassion for our cancer patients,” said Jim O’Dea, PhD, MBA, Vice President of Clinical Service Line Development.  “Most of all, though, it’s about listening to what our patients want and need as they continue their journey.”

Tickets are on sale now for the Oct. 25 show, and organizers are seeking sponsors as well.

“The money stays in the community,” Mrs. Chiangi said. “It is important to me to be able to do something that gives back to the community and the hospital.”

Co-producer/director Donna Palumbo said it takes a community to support survivors and help them along the way from diagnosis to survivorship.

The theme for this year’s show, “All Fired Up,” showcases the fact that survivors need support from their family, caregivers, doctors, nurses, support groups and others.

Mrs. Palumbo works closely with patients at Eastern Connecticut Hematology and Oncology (ECHO) Associates in Norwich, where she is a patient accounts representative and is a 16-year breast cancer survivor herself.

“I love being a part of the fashion show, which gives us an opportunity to show people that there is life after cancer. Being diagnosed myself at 40 years old with my first mammogram — it’s important for me to openly share my life after diagnosis and to stress the importance of early detection,” said Mrs. Palumbo.

Part variety show and part fashion show, “Survivors in Fashion” has truly become an extravaganza – including performances by the Pink Ribbon Tappers, singer Nicolas King of Westerly, R.I. and New York, N.Y., Sarah-Anne Clark, from the local band Melaena, as well as the survivor models showcasing fashions provided by local shops:  Love me Two Times in Taftville, Melissa Ashley Brides in Westerly, Dress Barn in Norwich, and Catherine’s in Waterford.

The show is on Friday, Oct. 25, from 7-9 p.m. at the Fox Theatre. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased online at the Backus Auxiliary Gift Shop and The Boutique at Backus, or by calling (860) 823-6331. For more information on sponsorships, visit

If you want to go

  • What: Survivors in Fashion
  • When: Friday, Oct. 25, from 7-9 p.m.
  • Where: Fox Theatre, Foxwoods Resort Casino