Style

Fashion

On the catwalk to support BMC

Florence Stewart at Catwalk for BMC Cancer Care in 2015.
Atlantic Photo Service Inc./file
Florence Stewart at Catwalk for BMC Cancer Care in 2015.

Who says fashion is frivolous? Five years ago, Boston Medical Center launched its annual Catwalk for BMC Cancer Care runway show to raise money for support services, such as innovative therapies like acupuncture and massage. The fashion show features roughly 15 cancer survivors and professional models wearing the work of local designers. This year’s show happened on June 23 at Boston’s State Room.

BMC staffers nominate models for their exceptional spirit, and participants get to keep their custom-made finery after the program. Tickets for the show, which includes appetizers, cocktails, and music, are $300. Last year’s event raised $300,000. But, organizers say, the fashion fête also gives survivors a stylish chance to celebrate.

Take Berline Cedat. In 2015, the 38-year-old Mattapan hairdresser was diagnosed with stage III breast cancer. Never a happy discovery, but Cedat was also pregnant with her first child after years of fertility struggles. She’d noticed a thickening in her breast several months prior but didn’t worry too much.

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“I’ve always been a plus-size gal,” she says with a laugh.

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Eventually, though, the mass grew too big to ignore. Cedat got a mammogram at BMC and was referred to a high-risk obstetrics team. Fortunately, the cancer was caught before it spread further. She underwent surgery and chemotherapy before giving birth to her son, Messiah. She then endured months of radiation while he was an infant.

Now she’s cancer-free, and she was excited about modeling a mid-length, metallic, scoop-necked dress created by Boston designer Joe Malaika, who specializes in dresses and sportswear inspired by Cynthia Rowley and Valentino. An added bonus: It’s purple, Cedat’s favorite color.

The Catwalk also featured former New England Patriot and cancer survivor Joe Andruzzi, plus emcee Jadiann Thompson of WHDH-TV.

But for the audience the survivors are the true stars.

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“I had a strenuous year, and this is my victory walk,” said Cedat. “Plus, in my other life, I wanted to be a model.”

Kara Baskin can be reached at kcbaskin@gmail.com. Follow her on Twitter @kcbaskin.