Annual BCA Luncheon — Looks Brightly to the Future


The crowd in attendance during the Breast Cancer Alliance’s annual luncheon and fashion show. (Michelle Moskowitz photo)

By Michelle Moskowitz
Sentinel Correspondent

Last week, the Breast Cancer Alliance’s 23rd Annual Benefit Luncheon & Fashion Show garnered over 1000 advocates, united in its mission to combat the disease that affects 1 in 8 women. Connecticut has the second highest incidence of breast cancer in the country.

This year’s benefit theme, “For Our Daughters, For Our Future,” was selected in part to showcase the staggering statistic among women, as well as affecting 1 in 1000 men — but also to display the impact a diagnosis has upon families, friends, and the community-at-large.

As is customary each year, the BCA and its ever-growing base of supporters, don a splash of pink, and together raise awareness, hope and funding for the national organization, started in Greenwich, whose mission is to improve survival rates and quality of life through better prevention, early detection, treatment and cure.

This year’s annual event raised over $1.5 million.

When detected early through the use of screening tests, such as mammography and ultrasound, survival rates are approximately 90 percent.

“We are definitely looking at a better, brighter future for the next generation of women in Greenwich and across the U.S,” BCA President Mary Jeffrey told the crowd, adding that while treatments are more personalized and targeted, 30 percent of breast cancers are metastatic, spreading to other parts of the body.

Showing solidarity on a daily basis, Jeffrey shared how the simple pleasure of shopping in and around town, such as at CVS, often leads to meaningful exchanges with local survivors who want to share their stories as well as their gratitude.

The Breast Cancer Alliance’s Models of Inspiration take to the runway during the 23rd Annual Benefit Luncheon & Fashion Show. (Michelle Moskowitz photo)

WCBS-FM radio host, and four-year breast cancer survivor, Patty Steele, was one of this year’s benefit speakers who revealed that at first her diagnosis was quite difficult to share with others.

“Sometimes the strongest thing you can do is to let go and trust,” said Steele. “What is my business about if I’m not sharing what I’m doing and learning.”

Steele also imparted how it was her teenage daughter’s temerity that brought her ultimate strength and comfort; that when she lost her hair during treatment, her daughter told her that her beautiful face was made that much more visible for all to see.

The other benefit speaker at this year’s event was Dr. Elisa Port, Chief of Breast Surgery and Director of the Dubin Breast Center at Mount Sinai.

Dr. Port, who performs hundreds of operations per year (and treated Steele), is a leading expert in sentinel-node biopsy, nipple sparing mastectomy, as well as the use of breast MRI, told the audience that she was truly honored to play a part in changing the trajectory of the disease.

“I am so inspired by all of my patients,” said Port, the author of, The New Generation Breast Cancer Book: How to Navigate Your Diagnosis and Treatment Options – and Remain Optimistic – in the Age of Information Overload.

“While we have so many treatment options, there is no one size fits all,” said Port. “That’s why you need specially trained doctor’s that organizations, such as the BCA, support who spend a full year learning about the nuances of the disease.”

The BCA makes major investments in innovative, early-stage research, breast surgery fellowships, and life-saving treatments.

This year, the BCA awarded $1,779,500 in grants and fellowships to up-and-coming experts in the field such as to Leif Ellisen, MD, PhD at Massachusetts General Hospital for expressed gene fusions as frequent drivers in hormone receptor positive breast cancer, and to Marcia Haigis, PhD at Harvard Medical School for examining the role of ammonia in breast cancer.

As is an emotionally gripping highlight each year, the BCA models of inspiration survivors, adorned in AKRIS high fashions provided by Richard’s, a long-time supporter of the organization, drew a standing, tearful ovation from the crowd – in celebration of the bright and beautiful models exuding triumph.

One such model was Noreen Agri, diagnosed at age 71, whose grandmother had a mastectomy at a much younger age, and was treated by Dr. Barbara Ward at Greenwich Hospital.

“Tomorrow is promised to no one. Live every day to its fullest…and have regular mammograms,” said Agri who had never had a mammogram prior to finding the lump herself.

In its continued efforts, the BCA is hosting a Holiday Gift Boutique on Nov. 13th and 14th at the Greenwich Country Club featuring items from artisans and designers including ladies, men’s and children’s apparel and accessories, unique jewelry, home décor, culinary delights and more – just in time for the season of holiday cheer.

Visit breastcanceralliance.org for more information and to get involved in the organizations plight on improving the lives of everyone affected by breast cancer.

About Author: Michelle Moskowitz

Michelle Moskowitz is a reporter and ambassador for the Greenwich Sentinel. Ms. Moskowitz has an extensive background in media serving as the head of LIFETIME Television’s new media division, covering events and news stories all over the country. She was also VP of Business Development at BestSelections.com, Senior Manager at Young & Rubicam, and ran her own boutique Internet firm with a focus on content development. Ms. Moskowitz has been living in the Greenwich community for over a decade. She graduated from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. Email: michelle@greenwichsentinel.com

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