Susie Tennant, left, shows her confidence in wearing the edgy Asian-look created by designer Devon Yan-Berrong, right. (Photo: KingYau Li)According to Gilda’s Club, there are more than 12 million cancer survivors in our country and a new person is diagnosed with cancer every 25 seconds. But what do these startling statistics mean to a cancer survivor?

Leilei Wang, left, thanks her designer Christine Chaney, right, at Gilda’s Club Seattle 15th annual “Surviving with Style”. (Photo: KingYau Li)
Susie Tennant, left, shows her confidence in wearing the edgy Asian-look created by designer Devon Yan-Berrong, right. (Photo: KingYau Li)

According to Gilda’s Club, there are more than 12 million cancer survivors in our country and a new person is diagnosed with cancer every 25 seconds. But what do these startling statistics mean to a cancer survivor?

To Cynthia Nixon, cancer is not a death sentence as she deeply believes “when life isn’t fair, it is still wonderful.”

Seattle Westin’s Grand Ballroom was packed with 750 supporters to celebrate Gilda’s Club Seattle 15th annual “Surviving with Style” luncheon and fashion show last Thursday. The show features 21 cancer survivor models, showcasing one-of-a-kind couture designs by various local renowned designers.

Leilei Wang was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2011. Being a physician at University of Washington Medicine, she regretted for not having a mammogram for ten years. But at “Surviving with Style”, she walked down the runway with grace and spirit, same as how she walks through the darkest moments of her life with Gilda’s Club.

“It’s very tough, but friendship and family are the foundation,” she shared while bursting in tears. “I learn from my friends: ‘Put one foot in front of the other, just keep moving’.”

When designing Wang’s graceful couture, designer Christine Chaney remarked, “I make sure that her spirit shows through.” Chaney expresses that each garment should be the embodiment of that person.

“When people have survived something like cancer, their spirit tends to be more clear and true,” she said.

“Surviving with Style” is one of the many events put together by Gilda’s Club Seattle, a community-based program to support men, women, and children with any type of cancer at any stage, as well as for their family members and friends. It is a place “where people walk in alone and walk out as part of a family.”

Gilda’s Club is also the place where Susie Tennant, communications director of Town Hall Seattle, found help when she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer last June.

“I have two young children and going through cancer as a family was really difficult,” she said. “Gilda’s Club has been so amazing in supporting us.”

Furthermore, participating in “Surviving with Style” while wearing the Asian-looking garment that designer Devon Yan-Berrong made for her specifically, Tennant receives the much needed joy and pride.

“Look at me now,” she said with a huge smile. “Devon has created the most amazing outfit for me and I can’t wait to wear it over and over again.”

Yan-Berrong also found it meaningful yet challenging when designing outfits for others, especially to support those who are constantly fighting for their life. He believes this opportunity has brought his design to another level.

Besides the sensational showcases of the 21 cancer surviving models, “Sex and the City” star Cynthia Nixon highlighted the event with a genuine and warmhearted speech about her journey in dealing with breast cancer.

Having experienced cancer herself, Nixon believes every cancer experience is different and the best solution to overcome fear is to surround yourself with people who can keep you safe.

“You need people who will show up and who know the roads,” she lamented. “It’s not my job to figure out what any other person needs when they are fighting cancer, because there’s Gilda’s Club for that.”

Filled with supporters and patients who have experienced cancer first hand, Gilda’s Club provides daily, weekly and monthly classes and educational seminars for free.

Rose Dennis, event chair of “Surviving with Style”, says $230,000 was raised at the luncheon, with more money still coming in.

“I am pleased with the success of creating awareness for Gilda’s Club; partnering and dressing the cancer survivor models in an unique garment designed by a local fashion designer, which they were able to keep,” she said.

Cancer does not only affect the person with the disease, but everyone around it. In the midst of physical and emotional distress, what we can do is to hold hands and walk together through these tough times.

For more event coverage, visit our Facebook album.

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