A Comprehensive Cancer Center Designated by the National Cancer Institute

Pathways to Discovery: Winter 2014

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Multiethnic Fashion Show Celebrates Cancer Survivorship

Cancer remains a significant cause of death in the United States, especially among minorities. However, improvements in the treatment, diagnosis, and prevention of cancer have heralded us into an era of cancer survivorship. Nearly 14 million Americans who have been diagnosed with cancer are living a productive life today.

To show minority communities that cancer is a beatable disease, the UCCCC Office of Community Engagement and Cancer Disparities (OCECD), directed by Karen E. Kim, MD, MS, professor of medicine, presented the first-ever “I’m a Survivor” multiethnic fashion show¬† in November. The OCECD partnered with local hairstylists, make-up artists, and fashion designers to style two dozen cancer survivors, who modeled their new looks in front of an audience of 200 community members at Art Revolution in Chicago. Other sponsors of the event included Exelon, Chicago State University, the University of Chicago Urban Health Initiative, the University of Chicago Institute for Translational Medicine, Marimarshe Salon, and the Paul Mitchell School.

Local personality and TV show host Jacinda Lockett emceed the event, while translators were on-hand to tell the survivors’ stories in Mandarin, Cantonese, and Spanish.

“This event was an opportunity to celebrate cancer survivorship and to showcase the resilience and strength of minority communities, together,” said Dr. Kim. “We want to send the message that cancer awareness, early detection, and prevention can lead to improved quality of life for all cancer patients, including in communities of color.”
Catalina Lim, one of the models at the event was treated for ovarian cancer by Ernst Lengyel, MD, PhD, professor and chair of the department of obstetrics and gynecology, and Susan Hong, MD, MPH, associate professor of medicine. Lim said that the fashion show was fun and she met a lot of nice people. She also cried after the show, overcome with emotion.

“I want to show other people that having this illness doesn’t prevent us from celebrating life and being positive,” she said. “After overcoming many adversities, we owe everything to our Creator and I thank God for giving me all of my phenomenal doctors.”

The fashion show was such a success that Dr. Kim said her group plans to hold another one in the future that will include men who have survived cancer.


Ernst Lengyel