7 July 2022
Eleven Sunshine Coast breast cancer survivors will take to the catwalk to celebrate body positivity and showcase beauty after cancer at a fashion parade and community fundraising event to be held on Saturday 17 September at Venue 114.
The Beauties, Breasts and Bubbles Fashion Parade and Cocktail Party will feature breast cancer survivors, ranging in age from 41 to 64 years, who will be modelling lingerie, breast prostheses, swimwear and clothing to fundraise for McGrath Foundation and the Cindy Mackenzie Breast Cancer Program.
Annually, 450 Sunshine Coast women are diagnosed with breast cancer1 which is the highest-incidence cancer affecting local females, followed by melanoma and colorectal cancer2.
Event co-organiser and fashion parade model Joanna Atzori, author of breast cancer blog #UnBreasted, said she is proud to be modelling as a ‘fabulously flat and fierce’ breast cancer survivor, following her diagnosis in 2019, aged 41.
“Having the courage and confidence to step out onto that catwalk as a woman who no longer has breasts, is something I never imagined would have been part of my breast cancer survivorship,” Mrs Atzori said.
“Women diagnosed with breast cancer don’t want to be told to fight hard, stay strong, be positive and that we’re inspirational. What we want is to be supported by family and friends every single step of the way and to know there are support services and opportunities to thrive beyond the traumatic and life-altering experiences we know we’re going to face.
“Being involved in this fashion parade is me putting myself out there to show the world I’m proud of how I’ve endured breast cancer and to show other survivors they have an army of supporters beside them while they too endure the trauma of cancer diagnosis, treatment and survivorship.
“The underlying theme of Beauties, Breasts and Bubbles Fashion Parade and Cocktail Party is to provide an open and honest representation of what life can be like after breast cancer diagnosis, while also showing other breast cancer survivors that feeling confident and beautiful in a differently shaped body is possible, even after surgery and cancer treatment.”
Mrs Atzori said a life-saving impromptu mammogram in 2019 revealed triple-positive cancer had unknowingly spread from her right breast into lymph nodes, leading to an immediate mastectomy, aged 41. She underwent chemotherapy, radiation, immunotherapy and enforced menopause while living as a one-breasted ‘uniboober’, and in 2020 chose to voluntarily become flat and #UnBreasted, proudly advocating for women to be offered an equal parity of choice to remain flat or consider reconstruction after mastectomy.
One in every seven Australian women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime, and of the 20,000 people diagnosed annually, around 150 are men.
Jen McKenzie, breast cancer physiotherapist and co-owner of The McKenzie Clinic, said this event will provide an opportunity for the breast cancer community to come together and celebrate their shared triumphs, tribulations, and life-changing experiences.
“This event will acknowledge that breast cancer can be frightening for a woman when her body is altered by breast cancer, which is why it’s vital for women to be informed about the products and services available to help them feel like their beautiful selves before cancer impacted their physical appearance and, in some cases, their confidence and identity,” Ms McKenzie said.
“The mental health impact of cancer is one area I believe is severely under addressed and it’s a huge problem affecting almost every person I see in my role as a breast cancer physiotherapist. Not to mention the impact breast cancer has on a person’s sexual health, their confidence and their relationships with others.
“The message about breast cancer awareness, breast screening and lifestyle risk factors has certainly improved over recent years, but there’s room for improvement to equip people with the tools to navigate their way through what follows after diagnosis and treatment.”
Some of the breast cancer models choose to use prosthetic breast forms worn within specialised pocketed lingerie, swimwear and clothing to project a similar physical appearance of their body before they had one or both breasts surgically removed.
Tracey Grills, owner of Tracey G Prosthetics & Lingerie, said she was excited to see genuine breast cancer survivors being used to showcase a variety of high-quality, practical and feminine garments on the catwalk during the ‘body positive’ fashion parade.
“Many of our Sunshine Coast ‘models’ are using the fashion parade as an opportunity to celebrate their post-surgery body and show others that thriving after breast cancer might look different for everyone but it looks beautiful for all,” Mrs Grills said.
“The fashion parade was inspired by a similar event held at New York Fashion Week where mastectomy lingerie was showcased in a powerful show by women who had undergone breast cancer surgery. Local representatives from the Sunshine Coast breast cancer community were inspired and said ‘We can do this too! We can replicate this fashion parade right here on the Sunshine Coast.’
The Cindy Mackenzie Breast Cancer Program delivers local support services for Sunshine Coast breast cancer patients and their families. The assistance program honours the memory of Sunshine Coast mum Cindy Mackenzie who passed away from breast cancer in 2006, aged 39.
The McGrath Foundation mission is to ensure that no one goes through breast cancer without the care of a McGrath Breast Care Nurse. McGrath Breast Care Nurses help individuals and their families affected by breast cancer by providing physical, psychological and emotional support, from the time of diagnosis and throughout treatment.
The COVID-safe event is rated M as discussions, language, topics, themes and visuals will contain content suited to audience aged 15 years and older.
The event is proudly supported by Sunshine Coast Council’s grants program.
The event is the brainchild of the Sunshine Coast Breast Cancer Friendship Circle, a free social group run by volunteers to connect breast cancer survivors for friendship, support and understanding. An opportunity was identified to bring people together in a fun and supportive environment to connect, be recognised for the challenges they faced and to celebrate their survivorship. The fashion parade is designed to promote body positivity and recognise that beauty comes in all shapes, especially among women who have lived through breast cancer diagnosis, surgery, or treatment.