YORK COUNTY — The American Cancer Society named itself “the official sponsor of birthdays.” For her birthday, Baxter resident Catherine Lindgren will don the latest clothes, hairstyle and makeup.
“I figured my husband wouldn’t go all out like that, so I’d do it myself,” said Lindgren, one of 18 models for a Charlotte event Saturday highlighting how far cancer treatment has come by showing off its success stories.
The third annual Cure By Design will be held at The Fillmore Charlotte, 1000 NC Music Factory Blvd., Charlotte. It features local cancer survivors as models, while bringing together players in the fashion, design and retail industries to show the results of cancer treatment. Proceeds benefit the American Cancer Society.
Harry Jones, 2013 model and honorary event chairman this year, said the relationship built with the organization during his treatment led to his continued participation.
“The proceeds from this event will benefit so many while simultaneously helping the American Cancer Society create a world with less cancer and more birthdays,” Jones said.
Among this year’s 18 models are Brittany Hilton, Robin Scott and Dan Dyszelski of Lake Wylie, Jeffrey Lyon and Deborah White of Rock Hill, and Lindgren of Fort Mill.
A mortgage broker who lives and works in Baxter, Lindgren is past the five-year mark of being cancer free. The fashion show Saturday will be carefree compared to her diagnosis of cervical cancer, eight weeks into her first pregnancy.
“I had to wait until after the pregnancy to do anything about it,” Lindgren said.
Now the wife and mother of a young daughter gets to worry about which designer she’ll wear or what hairstyle will suit her on a birthday unlike any she’s had.
For Hilton in Lake Wylie, she’d rather forget her birthday story but won’t, for the cause.
In 2012, doctors told Hilton the results of her biopsy showed she had thyroid cancer.She found out on her birthday.
“I just thought it was something where maybe they could just nuke it,” she said.
Hilton had a party gathering that night, some driving two or three hours. They laughed when she said she had cancer, thinking their workout buddy couldn’t be serious. Since then, there have been travels to distant doctors. There was a benefit party in Charlotte with about 200 people in a “torrential downpour.” She also went through multiple and “massive surgeries and radiation” to bring the cancer from Stage 4 to Stage 2.
Hilton is a Western Carolina grad with two degrees in fashion design and marketing, now working in radio and broadcasting. She also works against the idea that cancer defines her.
“It’s important to do events like this not only to reassure yourself, but to put yourself our there and show that you’re trying to beat it,” Hilton said. “It’s important to show that you’re taking the steps to take back your life.”
Already haven taken those steps is this year’s poster boy, also from York County. Dyszelski, who has a York address but lives on Lake Wylie, is in his third show and will be the “cover model.” He isn’t sure how much his modeling skills played into the decision.
“I think it’s because I brought a bunch of people who donated a lot of money,” he said.
Dyszelski’s business, Charlotte Mechanical, is an annual event sponsor. Dyszelski said he’s now accustomed to the lights, music and otherwise unusual attention at the show. He’s also used to life after his 1999 testicular cancer diagnosis, the surgeries and radiation, the “10 years of follow-ups.”
“I’m clean right now,” he said. “I’ve got no issues.”
Models at the event Saturday include adults and children with various types of cancer and at different stages of treatment. The event includes a reception, fashion show, and live and silent auctions. National designers Alex Garfield and Luis Machicao will be featured. Novant Health is the main sponsor.
John Marks • 803-831-8166