From chemotherapy to the catwalk, cancer center stage at New York Fashion Week

From chemotherapy to the catwalk, cancer center stage at New York Fashion Week

NEW YORK, February 12 (Reuters) – Less than a week ago, Tiffany Schwantes, 34, was hooked up to an intravenous chemotherapy drip at her local cancer center in Huntsville, Alabama, receiving treatment for cancer that has metastasized to her lungs.

 

On Saturday night, she strutted a catwalk draped in a pale pink strapless Dalia MacPhee ball gown for New York Fashion Week, one of 11 people with advanced-stage cancer transformed into models for one glamorous night in Midtown Manhattan.

A model presents creations from the Jeremy Scott Autumn/Winter 2017 collection during New York Fashion Week in the Manhattan borough of New York, U.S., February 10, 2017. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
A model presents creations from the Jeremy Scott Autumn/Winter 2017 collection during New York Fashion Week in the Manhattan borough of New York, U.S., February 10, 2017. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
Cancer patient Tiffany Schwantes from Huntsville in Alabama, part of a group of advanced-stage cancer patients to model in SMGlobal Catwalk presentation for Say Yes to HOPE, waits backstage before modeling during New York Fashion Week in Manhattan, New York, U.S., February 11, 2017.  REUTERS/Andrew Kelly
Cancer patient Tiffany Schwantes from Huntsville in Alabama, part of a group of advanced-stage cancer patients to model in SMGlobal Catwalk presentation for Say Yes to HOPE, waits backstage before modeling during New York Fashion Week in Manhattan, New York, U.S., February 11, 2017. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly
Cancer patients Bill Ramey of Greenwood in Indiana and Tiffany Schwantes from Huntsville in Alabama, part of a group of advanced-stage cancer patients to model in SMGlobal Catwalk presentation for Say Yes to HOPE, wait backstage before modeling during New York Fashion Week in Manhattan, New York, U.S., February 11, 2017.  REUTERS/Andrew Kelly
Cancer patients Bill Ramey of Greenwood in Indiana and Tiffany Schwantes from Huntsville in Alabama, part of a group of advanced-stage cancer patients to model in SMGlobal Catwalk presentation for Say Yes to HOPE, wait backstage before modeling during New York Fashion Week in Manhattan, New York, U.S., February 11, 2017. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly
Cancer patient Darla Rodgers from Salt Lake City in Utah, one of a group of advanced-stage cancer patients to model in SMGlobal Catwalk presentation for Say Yes to HOPE, is prepared backstage during New York Fashion Week in Manhattan, New York, U.S., February 11, 2017. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly
Cancer patient Darla Rodgers from Salt Lake City in Utah, one of a group of advanced-stage cancer patients to model in SMGlobal Catwalk presentation for Say Yes to HOPE, is prepared backstage during New York Fashion Week in Manhattan, New York, U.S., February 11, 2017. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly
Cancer patient Carolyn Murrah from North Richland Hills in Texas, one of a group of advanced-stage cancer patients to model in SMGlobal Catwalk presentation for Say Yes to HOPE, is fitted with false eyelashes during New York Fashion Week in Manhattan, New York, U.S., February 11, 2017. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly
Cancer patient Carolyn Murrah from North Richland Hills in Texas, one of a group of advanced-stage cancer patients to model in SMGlobal Catwalk presentation for Say Yes to HOPE, is fitted with false eyelashes during New York Fashion Week in Manhattan, New York, U.S., February 11, 2017. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly
The wig of cancer patient Tiffany Schwantes from Huntsville in Alabama, one of a group of advanced-stage cancer patients to model in SMGlobal Catwalk presentation for Say Yes to HOPE, sits on her bed in her hotel room during New York Fashion Week in Manhattan, New York, U.S., February 11, 2017.  REUTERS/Andrew Kelly
The wig of cancer patient Tiffany Schwantes from Huntsville in Alabama, one of a group of advanced-stage cancer patients to model in SMGlobal Catwalk presentation for Say Yes to HOPE, sits on her bed in her hotel room during New York Fashion Week in Manhattan, New York, U.S., February 11, 2017. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly
(L-R) Cancer patient Carolyn Murrah from North Richland Hills in Texas, one of a group of advanced-stage cancer patients to model in SMGlobal Catwalk presentation for Say Yes to HOPE, speaks with Say YES to HOPE founder Suzanne Lindley backstage during New York Fashion Week in Manhattan, New York, U.S., February 11, 2017.  REUTERS/Andrew Kelly
(L-R) Cancer patient Carolyn Murrah from North Richland Hills in Texas, one of a group of advanced-stage cancer patients to model in SMGlobal Catwalk presentation for Say Yes to HOPE, speaks with Say YES to HOPE founder Suzanne Lindley backstage during New York Fashion Week in Manhattan, New York, U.S., February 11, 2017. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly
Tiffany Schwantes, one of a group of advanced-stage cancer patients to model as part of the SMGlobal Catwalk presentation for Say Yes to HOPE, is prepared backstage before modeling during New York Fashion Week in Manhattan, New York, U.S., February 11, 2017. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly
Tiffany Schwantes, one of a group of advanced-stage cancer patients to model as part of the SMGlobal Catwalk presentation for Say Yes to HOPE, is prepared backstage before modeling during New York Fashion Week in Manhattan, New York, U.S., February 11, 2017. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

Adjusting her chestnut-colored wig in front of the mirror in her hotel room before the show, Schwantes said, “I feel good. I feel pretty.”

 

The stay-at-home mom was diagnosed with stage-four cancer of the bile ducts and liver in 2012 when she was 29.

 

“I had just had my baby girl two years before, so I thought I was healthy,” said Schwantes, whose son, Carter, is now 11 and daughter, Madison, is 7.

 

“Going from a young wife and mother to a full-time cancer patient was hard. I wasn’t used to going to the doctor two to three times a week. I wasn’t used to feeling so bad that I couldn’t take care of my children.”

 

For just a few hours on Saturday night, all that was almost forgotten. The models, some of whom have had chemotherapy, surgery or radiation, danced their way down the catwalk to Destiny’s Child’s “Survivor,” sporting floor-length gowns, diamond earrings, and topping off their looks with long lashes and striking makeup.

 

The “Surviving in Fashion” event was put on by YES!, a non-profit organization that provides support to anyone affected by advanced cancer, and SMGlobal Catwalk.

 

Bill Ramey, 60, of Greenwood, Indiana, was in New York for the first time to brave being the only man on the runway. He wore blue jeans and a black sweatshirt that read: “LIVE LIFE, LOVE LIFE.”

 

“My goal is to make it down and back on stage and remain upright,” said Ramey, who was diagnosed with stage-four colon cancer on Valentine’s Day in 2013.

 

“My first thought was that I wouldn’t be able to see my daughter graduate college or get married. Meeting my grandkids never even crossed my mind,” Ramey said. He then smiled.

 

“I got to do all three this summer.”

 

After taking a deep breath, Ramey said, “I’ve accepted the fact that I’ll probably die from cancer. But God has given me some extra time, and this is my way of paying it forward.”

 

Schwantes, whose husband of 13 years was there to support her, said she hoped the show would inspire others to feel as good as she did for the night.

 

“We get one night to dress in beautiful gowns and amazing jewelry and just have fun. It gives us a night to feel like we are more than just a cancer patient,” Schwantes said. “I hope they can see me, still going strong after five years, and it gives them a little hope.”



Share this post..
Share on FacebookShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedIn