Celebrating life | mb.com.ph | Philippine News
Home  » Lifestyle » Wellbeing » Celebrating life

Celebrating life

ICanServe helps women love their breast cancer-battered bodies

By Kaye Estoista-Koo

Breast cancer and celebration of life would normally not be seen in the same sentence together. But with the ICanServe Foundation, anything is possible.

On Oct. 13, for the second time, ICanServe partners: with fashion designers for a one-of-a-kind fashion show called Fashion Can Serve featuring breast cancer survivors and the people who journey with them: husbands, children, family members, doctors, surgeons, and more.

  • Celebrating life
  • Celebrating life mb2
  • Celebrating life mb3
  • Celebrating life mb4
  • Celebrating life mb5
  • Celebrating life mb6
  • Celebrating life mb7
  • Celebrating life mb8
  • Celebrating life mb9
  • Celebrating life mb10
  • Celebrating life mb11
  • Celebrating life mb12
  • Celebrating life mb13
  • READY TO SERVE Clockwise from top left: Philip Cu-unjieng, director Jackie Aquino, with designers Rosanna Ocampo-Rodruiguez, Mark Bumgarner, Patty Ang, Dennis Lustico, Patrice Diaz, Randy Ortiz, (seated) Kara Magsanoc-Alikpale, Tang Singson, Leilanie Eusebio, Libet Virata, and ICanServe's Bettine Osmeña (Photo courtesy of Facebook/FashionCanServe)
  • Rosanna Ocampo
  • Patty Ang
  • Patrice Diaz
  • Randy Ortiz
  • Dennis Lustico
  • Mark Bumgarner
  • Iza Calzado for Randy Ortiz
  • Megan Young for Patty Yang
  • Matteo Guidicelli for Dennis Lustico
  • Heart Evanghelista for Mark Bumgarner
  • Olive Lamasan for Patrice Ramos-Diaz
  • Ocampo's muses during the Fashion Can Serve 2016

Randy Ortiz, Dennis Lustico, Patrice Diaz, Rosanna Ocampo, Mark Bumgarner, and Patty Ang all showcased a full collection. Miss World 2015 Megan Young walked for Patty Ang while Iza Calzado walked for Randy Ortiz. This year is especially poignant as Heart Evangelista-Escudero walked alongside ICanServe president Tang Singson for Mark Bumgarner’s collection.

Tang still recalls when they first held the fashion show in 2015. “Doing fundraisers weren’t that easy. Philip Cu-Unjieng, brother of our chairman Libet Virata, proposed this fashion show.”

She is grateful that all the designers did the full collection for free and that this year’s mix of three male and three female designers was intentional: they come from different genres and are either young, upcoming, exciting designers or established designers.

Now on its second year, the fundraiser, Tang hopes, will increase awareness that breast cancer is not a death sentence, “Catch it early,” she says. “This year, our reminder is you don’t have to do it yourself, and you don’t have to walk alone.”

She admits that walking with someone is so important in the breast cancer journey. “During my good days, there was somebody to call and say, hey I feel good today. I like going to Tagaytay to smell the plants, flowers, to enjoy the view because you feel the world is still existing. I really don’t like hospitals where you are confined to the four walls. And when you have bad days, talk to someone, pour your heart out.”

Tang also believes a reason why breast cancer is a leading disease in the country is because Pinays are overly patient and keep things bottled up inside, and this not expressing what they feel could probably be a cause for the high incidence.

She credits her family with keeping her sane. “Without them I don’t think I would have lasted through six cycles of chemo. All of these people around you, you have to be there for them, they love you, they want you to stay, because they want you around as you grow older.”

She continues, “Cancer teaches you a lot of things, you learn to understand and define your relationship with God and your relationship with your loved ones, you learn to value what is most important in life and you realize every day should be a celebration of life because you never know when it’s your time.”

Dennis Lustico describes his collection in two C’s and an H: celebration, colors, and hope.

Dennis believes in the element of collaboration where fashion can help the cause extend to a wider boundary. He says, “I am featuring all the colors, all types of fabrics. Also flowers because I think it’s the symbol of hope, of femininity, and when someone gives you flowers, it’s a gesture that you’re important.”

Dennis shares that when clients come in to his shop and tell him about their cancer, he sees them become a stronger person and a braver woman.

True breast friends Beth Romualdez and Via Reyes, Lorenza Huang, Bibeth Orteza and son Rafa Siguion Reyna walked in Lustico’s romantic-inspired blooms collection.

Direk Bibeth Orteza confesses that the upside of a cancer diagnosis for her was that she pretty much got a front-row seat to the first night of her wake. She says, “You more or less get an idea of how people react to you.”

Direk Bibeth is grateful for any opportunity to get to talk about breast cancer. “It is an opportunity toward research, toward a lot more people wanting to see the day when it is finally eradicated, it’s not just looking at treatment as one way—it’s a sisterhood. With ICanServe, when you meet a sister for the first time, you know that person went through the same thing: the shock of the diagnosis, the fear of the operation, having to grapple with treatment, you are bound by the commonality of the experience.”

Mark Bumgarner admits he didn’t have a specific theme for the survivors and instead met with them one by one as they collaborated on an all-formal evening wear collection.

“It’s something different, something I have never done,” he says. Mark believes that fashion helps women feel better about themselves, and that a fashion show is a good way to bring awareness to people who don’t even know about it.

“It’s nice also that the designers this year, the age bracket is very broad, Patty and I are in our mid-20s. Any way I can give back, I give back. Fortunately breast cancer for me has not hit close to home, but it doesn’t mean you can’t help.” For his modern, strong, and timeless collection, Mark invited Chuchu Madrigal and Alex Eduque to join Heart and Tang.

For Stage 3 breast cancer survivor Amanda Luym, the first thought was: “I’m 38! What do you mean I have breast cancer?!”

She adds fashion and being a woman are connected. “You can say you don’t care about fashion but when you get chemo and get bald, or when you get a mastectomy, your body changes completely. It’s a longish journey, it can really affect you, your self-esteem, and how you see yourself as a woman.”

Amanda walked for Patty Ang and believes that ICanServe can help survivors see how their bodies have changed, especially for those not aware of what you can look like after. “It’s important to see people functional and thriving,” she surmises. “It gets the word out there about early testing and how it’s not a death sentence.”

After her surgery, Amanda says she had hesitations about dressing up. “People don’t talk about how bodies heal differently,” she confesses. “I did not want to put on regular clothing, I wanted if possible to put on a muumuu, or a big shirt and hide and not have to care. Left to my own devices I would have stayed longer like this but my cousin, Cacay Moras Server, took me out.”

She shares, “It took a while for me to be reminded, it is not over.”