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Models for Living

Cancer Survivors and Patients Walk the Runway for St. Joseph Hospital Regional Cancer Center

April 13, 1999

The event: Third annual Circles of Life luncheon and fashion show starring cancer survivors as models, staged by the St. Joseph Hospital Foundation. The Sunday event at the Irvine Marriott raised funds for the St. Joseph Hospital Regional Cancer Center in Orange.

Inspiring role models: A sellout crowd of 700 family members, friends and supporters turned out to cheer the 30 models as they showed off the latest styles from Fashion Island Newport Beach. Some of the men and women who modeled have been cancer-free for years; others are undergoing treatment.

They were joined on the runway by a dozen physicians from St. Joseph and, in an emotional grand finale, those significant others who have helped their loved ones fight cancer.

"Being in the show gave me a sense of self-worth and inspired me to look my best at a low point in my life," said Gail Echternach, a Laguna Beach resident making her second appearance in the show. Two months after her treatment for breast cancer ended last year, Echternach became pregnant at age 41 with her first child. She gave birth to a healthy baby boy in February. "There's definitely life after cancer," she said.

Getting the message out: Established in 1987, the St. Joseph Hospital Regional Cancer Center provides technology and medical treatment to cancer patients, conducts cancer research and offers patient and community support groups and education programs.

"They really address the whole person," said Mary Madrigal of Garden Grove, a breast cancer survivor. "When I was first diagnosed, I was such an emotional basket case. The people I met through the [Bosom Buddies] support group reassured me I'd be OK, and that I hadn't been handed a death sentence."

Quote: "To cancer survivors--may we never give up," said author Cynthia Rowland McClure, who spoke about her ongoing fight. McClure, who is in her mid-40s, told a tearful audience about her two "hellish" bone marrow transplants. She also said doctors at St. Joseph recently found a new tumor in her hip. Cancer, she said, gave her a greater appreciation for life. "I plan to be here next year, but if I'm not . . . I will have lived."

Faces: Pat Kincade and Diana Kendall-Margileth, event co-chairwomen; Dr. John West, program emcee; Dr. Leonard Sender, medical director of the cancer center; Lisa Perrine, chairwoman of the hospital foundation board, and her father, Jim Harter, a model and cancer survivor; and Kitty Leslie, fashion show emcee.

Bottom line: The luncheon was expected to net $35,000 for the cancer center.

What's ahead: Todos, a support group of St. Joseph Hospital, will hold its 14th annual golf tournament April 26 at the Santa Ana Country Club.

The St. Joseph Hospital Foundation will hold its 27th annual benefit, the Time of Our Lives: 70 Years of Giving From the Heart, at the Anaheim Hilton and Towers on Oct. 16. Information: (714) 771-8211.

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