Two women walk the catwalk in various lingerie

#FearLESS: A Fashion Show Designed To Bridge The Gap In The Breast Cancer Community

I am writing this exactly one month after I walked the runway during New York Fashion Week. That's correct. I walked in New York Fashion Week. I’m still in disbelief as I type these words on my keyboard.

New places

I’m a fashion and beauty publicist, normally on the other side of the camera. Promoting designers and brands to the press. The tables have been turned in more ways than I could have ever imagined. Breast cancer has taken me to some unexpected places, but this one is going to be hard to beat.

On February 9th, post-mastectomy intimate apparel brand AnaOno and breast cancer media platform #Cancerland partnered for its fourth annual New York Fashion Week runway show. This special presentation benefits METAvivor. METAvivor is a non-profit organization that supports research and awareness of metastatic breast cancer.

On the catwalk

Breast cancer thrivers from all over the country gathered and hit the catwalk with pride, strength, and confidence in AnaOno’s latest post-mastectomy lingerie collection. A wide range of races and breast cancer stages were represented in an effort to create one #fearLESS community. 100% of the proceeds from the show were donated directly to METAvivor. This year, over $250,000 was raised.

When I was invited to participate in this very special show as one of their sponsored models, I was simply blown away. What an incredible opportunity to lock arms with fellow breast cancer thrivers – as well as raise money and awareness.

Bringing the stages together

The theme of the show this year was #fearLESS. AnaOno Founder Dana Donofree explains it best. “Each year, our efforts focus on highlighting new conversations within the breast cancer community. This year’s show was called #fearLESS – to support bridging the gap between early-stage diagnoses and late-stage diagnoses. Giving voice to thoughts from both sides of the breast cancer community, we hope to remove some of the fear, shame, or judgment someone might feel based on their level of education or advocacy. We know we can only, truly accomplish our goals together.  Dividing our community is counterproductive and comes at a great cost.”

Bridging the gap

There were 31 models in total. Different stages, races, ages, from all walks of life. Breast cancer is the one common thread that brought us all together. Upon meeting, the first few questions were usually, “Where are you from?” Followed by, “What stage are you?” “When were you diagnosed?” Whether you’re stage 1, stage 4 or a Previvor, there was tremendous respect, compassion, and understanding among all of us. And I believe this was Dana Donofree’s vision, to bridge the gap between each of us and our breast cancer experiences.

Meet each other where we are

My hope is that this movement will continue as the medical community aims to eradicate this disease altogether. In the meantime, may we all meet each other where we are without judgment or fear. I’ll follow up on this article soon about my experience as one of the AnaOno models; the observations that I’ve made about beauty and confidence, how it has impacted my life, and how I plan to use my experience to inspire and empower others.

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