Fashion show to benefit breast cancer research

By Megan R. Harrell
Star Staff

Last year 44 women in Carter County were diagnosed with breast cancer. The disease is the most common form of cancer diagnosed among women in America but can be fought if detected early.
   In an attempt to increase local awareness and detection, the Women's Diagnostic Center at Sycamore Shoals Hospital is holding a survivor fashion show Sunday, Oct. 27. All of the models in the show are breast cancer survivors ranging in age from 21 to 83.
   Karen Mabe will be one of the models at the fashion show Sunday evening. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in October 1989, at the age of 29. After months of vigorous chemotherapy and a mastectomy, Mabe was deemed cancer free.
   Since her fight with cancer, Mabe has become active with the American Cancer Society's Reach to Recovery Program. She co-founded a breast cancer support group in Johnson City seven years ago, and is the co-chair of Relay for Life.
   Mabe has used her experience with the disease to help others. "When I was going through it I was very private and did not want anybody to know because I didn't want to be treated like I was going to die," Mabe said. "Now you are hearing more and more young people diagnosed with it, and I realized I could help people. It was like taking something negative and making something positive."
   Sunday's fashion show is another venue where Mabe believes she can give back. She said the women in the show are at various stages in the breast cancer journey. "I have had 13 years to get used to the idea, but some of these women are less than one year from it. The fact that they are to the point where they are confident enough in themselves to get on the runway shows they are more than just survivors. They are living life," Mabe said.
   Johnson City Mayor, Duffie Jones, will be among the women living life Sunday evening. Jones, who has been very public with her illness, stated she was more than happy to be a model in the fashion show.
   Jones completed chemotherapy in May and finished her last radiation treatment this past August. She stated being part of the fashion show will allow the public to see they can go through something like breast cancer and carry on with a normal life.
   Increasing the public's awareness of breast cancer was another reason why Jones wanted to be a part of the show. "It is important for people to be doing what they can do to take care of themselves and to take responsibility for their health," Jones said. "We just do not need to be taking our health for granted at any time in our lives."
   This is the first time the hospital has ever held a fashion event benefiting breast cancer awareness and research. "We have done other things in the past to increase community awareness, but I was hoping to do something a little different this year," Regina May, Sycamore Shoal's Community Outreach Coordinator, said.
The purpose of the event is to raise money for breast cancer research. Donations will benefit the Campaign For Life Research Center. The campaign is a long-term effort to combat breast cancer.
   The funds will also be used for the Women's Diagnostic Center's community awareness programs. The donations will be used to enhance information provided to the community about the prevention of breast cancer.
   Proffitt's Department Store will be providing the clothing for the fashion show. Models will be wearing the store's new winter and holiday fashions.
   The fashion show will be held in the Pine Room at Franklin Health and Fitness Center from 2 to 4 p.m. Afternoon tea and desserts will be available, and donations will be accepted. For more information contact Regina May at 542-1446.