JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Stage 3 breast cancer. At 28, it was the last thing Natasha Glover ever expected to hear.
Center stage! Probably the last place Natasha Glover ever expected to be wearing some of the season's hottest fashions.
But in a fashion show, like few have ever seen, Natasha joined nearly two dozen breast cancer survivors on the pink carpet. On this cool fall night with the beautiful Florida Theatre as a back drop, these survivors continued their roll in the ultimate reality game of life.
Survivor Jill Weigand set the mood for the evening when she struck a pose, ran her fingers through her beautiful blond locks and then sent the wig soaring into the crowd. Jill, 37, was diagnosed just six months ago and has undergone a bilateral mastectomy and chemotherapy.
As each model donned Jimmy Choos, over the knee boots and some of the hottest fashions from local boutiques, we got to hear their stories. They all heard the same word: cancer. They all faced a tough road. Thursday, they all shared a message that cancer is not a fatal diagnosis.
It is hard to imagine that any model has looked more beautiful. The energy that radiated from behind each face helped tell a story. Marathons, motorcycles and a trip around the world are more than just things on a bucket list. They are the medicines that help these women attack life. Natasha is starting a cake business. Mary hiked solo in Iceland. Kathy started a new hobby: women's power lifting. She took first place in just her third meet.
From 6 months to more than 20 years, stories of survivals mixed with the hottest fall fashions. Julie was diagnosed at 42. The same age both her sisters were diagnosed. She has lost one. Mary has lost three family members to cancer. Yet, she is quick to remind us to live every moment wholly and gratefully. Carla had no family members with cancer. Still, at age 48, she had to have a mastectomy. Two years later she ran her first 5K race and recently went para sailing for the first time.
In a night filled with tears and cheers, mothers, sisters, daughters, wives and friends took the stage. They were all part of a campaign for a cause -- ending breast cancer.
Doctor Rebecca Glasser is a plastic surgeon who has worked with survivors including most on the stage. She says, "It is amazing to watch the change in them from the beginning to end."
It's a long process that is filled with emotion. Now, so many refuse to let cancer control them.
"An Evening on the Pink Carpet" was a fundraiser for the Donna Foundation. Donna Deegan, a local journalist and dear friend of this writer, is a three time breast cancer survivor. She started her foundation to raise money exclusively for the critical needs of women fighting the good fight. Donna began the night on the pink carpet in a sassy outfit with knee high boots and brought the evening to an emotional close in an elegant pink dress proudly wearing the color of the cause.
Twenty women, twenty survivors, twenty stories center stage showing breast cancer is not a fatal diagnosis but an invitation to attack life.