Fashion show provides community and support for breast cancer survivors
Anne Prece, a breast cancer survivor of six years, was diagnosed with invasive intraductal carcinoma at the age of 42 after a mammogram, a sonogram and two biopsies. She never had any history of it in her family.
“I had four kids at that time, and my youngest was nine, and I didn’t want to have to look over my shoulder every time I felt something,” Prece said.
One in eight women will develop breast cancer in her lifetime, according to breastcancer.org. The invasive disease begins when malignant cells form inside the breast tissue and often spread to the lymph nodes.
While there are many organizations and networks for breast cancer patients, Prece found Making Strides Against Breast Cancer not long after her diagnosis. Within a year, she fundraised for her own team and participated in the organization's annual walk.
The coalition, along with Lord & Taylor, assemble a yearly fashion show that includes models who’ve survived or continue to fight breast cancer. The donations from the Survivor Fashion Show go directly to the Making Strides organization.
While it originally started out as a rather small event, the fashion show grew to include over 50 attendees in recent years. Prece was a model for the show in 2016.
“It’s to show the survivors that they can inspire you and show how strong they are, and just to give them a little something back,” Prece said. “It’s fun to get dressed up a little bit. It's all about the survivors.”
The Survivor Fashion Show does more than showcase survivors and fighters. Involvement in such events can offer a sense of guidance for those impacted and even allow them to reach out to others.
“Being involved gave me a feeling that I was helping people, and all I wanted to do was help people who had been diagnosed,” said Prece. “I wanted to give them an idea of what is ahead, and that it won’t be easy all the time, but they can get through it and we’re here for them.”
Two years after she walked the runway, Prece took a more significant role with Making Strides. She now works as an organizer and emcee for the show. This advancement in her career allowed her to get connected with others going through similar journeys.
“As a survivor, you only know your story. When you start hearing everybody else’s story, you didn’t know it could be that bad.”
Through Making Strides, breast cancer fighters can get connected with new support systems.
The Survivor Fashion Show means so much to so many because a sense of community is a valuable tool when fighting this disease.
When a patient is diagnosed with breast cancer, more often than not, close friends and family act as the most important support system. While support from loved ones is crucial, they lack a sense of awareness when it comes to what battling the disease truly entails.
“I met a woman through a girl I went to highschool with,” Prece explained. “We would talk about our doctors appointments, what our treatments looked like, and we would just complain to each other because we could! You can’t complain to your family because they’re supporting you, so we were able to connect that way.”
Lisa, the woman Prece met, gave her a new support system. She found survivors who understood the struggles of breast cancer, and more importantly, women who always knew exactly what to say to make the process slightly more bearable.
Prece began radiation when she discovered her cancer was no longer considered stage one. Upon doing another biopsy, she learned that the cancer cells that originated in her breast had spread to her lymph nodes.
“I started [fighting] aggressively, and I wanted to finish aggressively with radiation,” Prece said. “I did 36 rounds of radiation, and then I was done.”
Despite beating breast cancer, Prece remains an attendee of the Survivor Fashion Show.
Unfortunately, Prece said Lisa died three years ago.
“That’s why I do it,” Prece said. “It’s a little therapy for me, and I know it’s what Lisa would do.”
By Sofia Jas, Elvanice Previlma