By sheer good fortune and certainly some divine intervention, I celebrated my 7th year cancer-free in April. In my never-ending quest to continue to make a difference with this disease, I agreed to something this past year that I now joke about being able to check off of my bucket list. After being professionally styled by local boutiques/hair stylists/make-up artists, for one fun and fabulous night, I was a FASHION MODEL and walked a runway in front of 700+ screaming spectators, which included my family, friends and healthcare providers! So let me tell you how I managed to get myself into this and what I’ve taken away from it.
The founders of “You Night Empowering Events” observed that there is typically a tremendous amount of support for people going through cancer, but the support completely changes once someone is deemed a survivor. After fighting so long and hard for physical health, there is a real need to examine your emotional and mental state of mind after cancer treatment. This multi-faceted program brings together 24 ladies – all cancer survivors – to train for months with professional runway coaches leading up to the main event: a fashion show where the cancer survivors serve as “role models” (get it?!) for the audience. Of course in the months leading up to the show, these ladies create a bond that cannot be broken. It is a sisterhood that no one really wants to have to be in, but we are as thankful as we can be to have one another.
This experience got me reflecting on what society considers as BEAUTY. I can’t lie that most of my life, I have been brain-washed that beauty is something to be highly desired and can only be achieved by the luckiest few with good genes and God-given physical attributes. Yeah…toss that out of the window. The ladies I walked the runway with are the most beautiful people I know. They range in ages from late 20’s to mid-60’s and very few are a size 2. They all have battle scars from chemo ports, mastectomies and reconstructive surgeries and many were just starting to grow their hair back. Most walked into this program self-conscious and skeptical of really going through with this.
But we had each other. We cheered each other on in practices. We laughed when we tripped in our stilettos or almost fell over while trying to make a 360 degree turn in an evening gown gracefully (NOT an easy feat, by the way). We cried when we found out that one of our You Night sisters from a previous year was re-diagnosed with Stage 4 metastatic breast cancer and rallied to support her and her family however we could. We held our heads up and said to each other “We’ve got this.” And when we stepped out onto that stage, we were BEAUTIFUL.
I challenge you to observe what is really beautiful in life. There is beauty all around us, but how often do we look right past it? Own your own beauty. It’s not about being perfect. It’s about you believing in and celebrating yourself.
Written by You Night participant Laure Chachere