When fashion fights cancer
Gilda’s Club Seattle celebrated its 10th anniversary Surviving in Style luncheon fashion show June 14 at The Seattle Westin with a filled room of 750 guests raising over $220,000. The organization was named for the great comedienne, Gilda Radner, who died of ovarian cancer in 1989.
Twenty cancer survivor models, ages 1 to 84, were all dressed beautifully by local fashion designers who each created a garment just for them to model and to later keep as a momento. As they walked down the runway their stories were shared about their cancer diagnosis and how this experience has changed their appreciation for what is now most important – living each day to its fullest and being with family and friends.
Eastside models included 5-year-old Anna Comstock, who at age 4 was diagnosed with high risk, pre-b cell, acute lymphoblastic leukemia, known as A.L.L. Anna walked the 80-foot runway modeling her darling magenta and silver dress with a matching headband created by designer AnnMarie Louie.
Kristi Feder was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1993 and again in 2009. “Both times, I had a mastectomy. Now, at least, I have a guarantee that I won’t get it a third time!” she shared. She gracefully walked down the runway wearing a silk dress that nicely complimented her skin tone and body silhouette that was designed by Renee Corrick.
Marilyn Pederson was first diagnosed with breast cancer in May of 1990 when she was pregnant with her youngest son. Her second diagnosis was in May, 1994. She wore a beautifully designed cocktail dress by Bellevue designer Madina Vadache.
Pat Purcell was diagnosed with early stage, slow-growing prostate cancer on Aug. 8, 2011. He handsomely walked down the runway in a European style suit accented with a bright colored Egyptian cotton dress shirt that was complimented with the perfect silk pocket square. His ensemble was created by Bellevue’s own Nicole van der Bogert of Trillium Custom Tailoring.
Marla Beck is a three time cancer survivor. She was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in 1992, early stage cervical cancer in 2005, and melanoma in 2009. Beck, Founder and President of Andelcare, wore the perfect ’50s inspired chic suit by TV’s Fashion Star contender and local designer Lisa Vian Hunter.
Actress Cynthia Nixon, who is a breast cancer survivor, spoke at the event, telling attendees that “while life isn’t fair, it is still wonderful.”
Longtime Gilda’s Club supporter Gene Juarez, whose mother died of cancer when he was 16, received the Corporate Visionary Award for his longtime support of Gilda’s Club Seattle.
Rose Dennis writes about events in Bellevue and the Greater Seattle area. She lives in Bellevue.