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A Texas Fashion Show Raises Money For Cancer Research

Dozens of people eagerly gathered inside the halls of a local hotel in McAllen, Texas this week for a fashion show — but the models weren’t professionals hired by designer labels.

Instead, everyone who walked down the runway was either a cancer survivor, or strutting across the stage to remember their loved ones lost to cancer.

University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and IBC Bank hosted the fashion show as part of a broader campaign to raise $1 million for cancer research. Every dollar raised will be matched by IBC Bank in order to reach at least $2 million total.

Barbara Gray sat with a group of friends waiting to enter the venue. 

She lives in McAllen and said she’s here tonight to honor her friend, Diana Weisser, who died almost two years ago of cancer.

She said Weisser worked in real estate and they had known each other for more than 30 years.

Gray said her favorite memory of Weisser involves them traveling together to Georgia for work. She said they stayed together at a hotel room when Gray realized she had forgotten her contact lens case.

“She said, ‘Oh just use the drink glasses,’ so I put my left contact in the left glass and my right contact in the right glass,” Gray said laughing. “Sometime before she came to bed she went to take her pills and forgot and she drank my contact lens. We laughed and laughed.” 

Hermi Forshage was also in the hallway before the show started.

She said she’ll be walking down the runway in a long leopard print dress. Forshage added it wasn’t her first choice, but she’s glad to be here tonight to help raise money and awareness about cancer. 

Forshage was diagnosed with breast cancer back in May 2011.

“I remember the day that I had to go tell my daughter that I had cancer and she comes out crying and I said, ‘Don’t cry because if you cry, then I’m going to cry too,’” said Forshage.

She said her faith has gotten her through this phase of life and wants people to know they have options out there for treatment. Forshage said today she’s doing great and taking it day-by-day.

Dr. Cristina Checka from MD Anderson was one of the main speakers at the event. She said she’s from the Rio Grande Valley and has worked with several patients there.

Checka said she hopes people left the event with a feeling of hope and excitement. She also wants people to know they’re all working together to not only find a cure for cancer, but to develop better methods of detection, more effective treatment and methods that prevent all types of cancer. 

She said she also wants people to familiarize themselves with when they should start looking into getting certain types of cancer screenings. Checka also said she wants people, especially in the Rio Grande Valley, to pay careful attention to sun exposure.

Before Forshage left backstage to get ready, she said cancer taught her that life is short, but for now she’s enjoying life to the fullest.

Reynaldo Leaños Jr. can be reached at Reynaldo@TPR.org and on Twitter at @ReynaldoLeanos

Reynaldo Leaños Jr. can be reached at reynaldo@tpr.org and on Twitter at @ReynaldoLeanos