Charity fashion show staged for cancer awareness

Former USPS worker Filipina ovarian cancer survivor Annette Velasco lost her husband also to cancer while giving his full support to Annette’s own battle to make it.
Yoga instructor and businesswoman Audrey De Long, who has had a stage 3 ovarian cancer empathized with those suffering from cancer saying her heart feels what they going through.

Share+Give Initiative launched its “2019 United Against Cancer Swimwear Calendar” through a fashion show/party n Burlingame Masonic Hall over the weekend that would benefit breast and ovarian cancer causes worldwide.

Inspiring words that governed the night were unwavering support, clearer understanding and deep commitment coupled with early detection that alls served to encouraged and give hope to cancer patients and their families who are now suffering unimaginable stress and pain. These are the same things that the charity fashion show sought to highlight to prove that there is life after cancer by featuring survivors who lent support for the event together with their families, friends and other supporters.

Nine-year breast cancer-free survivor Dana Richards was all hyped up all throughout the night in celebration of her triumph over the dreaded disease.

The calendar that serves as a platform for survivors and advocates in their united effort to beat cancer through global awareness for cancer patients featured Dana Richards, a breast cancer survivor who is now a fashion designer and a philanthropist, Audrey De Long, an ovarian cancer survivor who is now a business owner and a yoga instructor, Bret Miller, a male breast cancer survivor who founded the Bret Miller 1T Foundation Male Breast Cancer Coalition and Filipina ovarian cancer survivor Annette Velasco . Richards, De Long and Velasco were on hand to grace the occasion while Miller had to skip the event because of a prior commitment.

Share+Give Initiative founder and renowned Filipina designer Gia Galicia mentioned that this is her third charity show and the second for cancer causes which are something personal for her since she and her family have been impacted by the disease after her husband’s mother died of breast cancer.

“A lot of my friends have asked me to do a charity show that features swimwear collection with other swimsuit designers and together we chose to focus on breast and ovarian, some of the deadliest cancers for women,” Galicia revealed of the very inspiring event that has been eight months in the making. “It is very important that cancer survivors (Richards, De Long and Velasco) are here to show and prove that they beat cancer and look at how they are thriving. We would like to give hope and inspiration in emphasizing that if detected early, the chances of survival is considerably increased. So have yourselves checked.”

Fashion designer Dana Richards who has been breast cancer free for nine years, is also now a philanthropist who was grateful that she was contacted by Galicia through Instagram.

“I would jump the hoops for her to help the cause. It is amazing cause to help everyone who has ovarian and breast cancer. I am really honored to be a part of it,” Ms. October Richards narrated on how Galicia knew her. “In this calendar and subsequent fashion show, we would like to say that early detection saves lives and cancer does not discriminate. It doesn’t care how old you are, how much money you make, what color your skin is. It is very pervasive. If it is caught early you get to live long God-willing. There is life after cancer and I am a living proof.”

Richards also reiterates that vigilance is the key for early detection and following doctor’s orders and instructions will get one to live a long life

“Support is all very important during the very difficult times and especially during treatment. This is all new hair. I lost all my hair and I am here to talk all about it. I could not have done it without my family and my friends to be there by my side every step of the way,” a grateful Richards imparted.

Also contacted by Galicia through Instagram was eventual Ms. September Audrey de Long, a stage 3 ovarian cancer survivor who is now a business owner and a yoga instructor who happily jumped in for the photo shoot and charity fashion show.

“My advice to those who are just finding out (that they have cancer), I’d say you are not alone. It may seem really lonely it feels like no one understands. And there are people that understand. I think that this cause really shows that there are many people that are not only survivors but there are people that are friends and families of survivors and we care. We are rooting and are here for you and standing not only behind you but also beside you,” lovingly reminded De Long.

In echoing Richards, De Long underscored the extreme importance of support from loved ones and friends adding that she will no longer be around without the support that she had.

“Like I said it feels so alone as I was very veryvery sick and thought I wouldn’t make it. And it feels so lonely it is as if no one can really understand as even medical staff in the hospital was so busy,” De Long remembered. “I got it. I understand and know you need to be strong. It is something beyond words actually it is hard for me to put to words. It is beyond words. It is something you felt with your hearts and know beyond, know in your soul. Those are my non-words words. We are in this together and there really good people that are making a difference,” uttered De Long as her voice finally cracked.

For Filipina ovarian cancer survivor Velasco, she had to stop working for three years and retired medically from her twelve-year working stint with the United States Postal Service (USPS) when she learned that she had cancer as she had to give way to two rounds of chemotherapy.

“I am ok now and I attribute this to the great tremendous support of my family especially when I was going through therapy and eventually survived it,” Velasco expressed her gratitude. “It is such a tremendous thing that you see all these organizations coming here and giving their monetary and emotional support and everything that helps for this to flourish.”

It was a bittersweet experience for Velasco even as she survived after her own husband who fully supported her bout with cancer lost his own battle with the dreaded disease five years ago. She nevertheless stressed that support and understanding from family is important.

Richards and De Long joined eighteen other models, including two young girls, in wearing Gia Galicia swimsuits that were printed with inspiring words like Fight!, Survivor You are beautiful, You are loved, Cancer Butt Kicker, #Superwomen and My Hero. Velasco also joined them in an earlier evening gown presentation.

A total of eighteen models were in the catwalk to showcase the gorgeous evening gowns prepared by five different designers for the charity event. They are shown here with Share+Give Initiative founder and renowned Filipina designer Gia Galicia (fourth from left)

The calendar and some of the dresses worn by the models and United vs. Cancer T-shirts were available for sale during and after the show.

All proceeds from the event will benefit breast and ovarian cancer foundations including the Pilipino Senior Resource Center Breast Cancer Support Services Program.

Aside from designs by Gia Galicia, the show also featured designs by Colleen Quen, Renee Gee, HaydeeQuesedo Castillo, and Rolando Carlin.

The charity fashion show was presented in cooperation with The Filipino Channel, Philippine American Press Club USA, CKO+ Media, Inquirer.net, FilAm Star, Asian Journal, Philippine News, Philippines Today, San Francisco Bay Area Ateneans,    Rotary Club of Daly City and Colma, and Heavenly Ice Cream.