As she strutted across the runway, Kate Spigener stopped to wave to her family, grinning from ear to ear, and to blow a kiss to her husband.
She had a lot to celebrate Tuesday night in a room full of breast cancer survivors and those still fighting it.
“When I was diagnosed at 31, I felt alone and like there was no one else my age that had this diagnosis,” she said. “I just want to show solidarity and support, especially for the younger women who feel alone out there.”
She was one of a dozen models who walked the runway Tuesday night for the ninth annual Pretty in Pink survivor fashion show. The emotional evening highlighted their battles, medical and personal, and sought to give hope to those still fighting in the audience.
The night featured a dinner catered by Self Regional Healthcare’s food and nutrition staff, a keynote speech from survivor Sherri Taunton and the fashion show, along with door-prize drawings and other activities. Each year, Pretty in Pink raises funds for the Self Regional Healthcare Foundation’s Breast Cancer Fund. The main event, however, was the fashion show, and model Debbie Roberts was grateful for it.
“I kind of found it as my way of giving back,” she said. “The staff at Self, they’ve done so much for me.”
Dr. Kathleen Jeffrey, director of the hospital’s Breast Center, said the message behind the evening’s events has always been to spread hope. The 12 models whose stories were shared with the audience have the chance to create a sense of unity with the women who were still battling cancer.
Jeffrey had the chance to share with everyone another hopeful bit of news involving developments at the hospital.
“For the last six months, we’ve been working hard to form our breast center,” she said.
Most of the services the center provides are services that were already available but now are in a centralized location. Recent additions include 3D mammography and a new, full-time breast radiographer, Jeffrey said. She also shared new details about the development of a high-risk breast clinic. By assessing patients’ risk for developing breast cancer, she said doctors hope to refer patients to an oncologist as soon as possible.
“Any time you come in for a mammogram, you will get a questionnaire,” she said. “With this clinic, I believe we’re taking aim at breast cancer before it starts.”
This could give more women hope for beating cancer, and keynote speaker Sherri Taunton said hope and a positive outlook can make a world of difference in this fight. She received a surprise diagnosis near Thanksgiving in 2015 that shook her, her husband and their three children to their cores.
“I told my children that this was just going to be another bump in the road of life,” she said.
Though she had her struggles throughout, she said she kept her troubles in perspective and considered the gifts she received during this trial. She was surrounded by loving family and supportive friends, and she was given a new perspective that allowed her a deeper enjoyment of every facet of her life.
“Having a positive outlook really can make a world of difference,” she said.