Breast cancer survivor Anne Gabbert was hesitant when it was suggested she take part in the Pink Ribbon Connection fashion show.
“I received a massage from an oncology massage therapist, and she asked me to apply to be a model in the show,” Gabbert said. “I didn’t think I wanted to do it but she convinced me that I did.”
Gabbert will take part in the Pink Ribbon Connection’s Stars of Pink Fashion Show Oct. 13 at Indianapolis Marriott Downtown, 350 W. Maryland St. The reception begins at 10 a.m. and is followed by a luncheon and fashion show from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The thought of participating in a fashion show scared Gabbert at first.
“It’s completely out of my comfort zone, getting dressed up and walking down a runway in front of a thousand people,” she said. “My worst fear is I’m going to fall down. One of the reasons I was faced with this challenge I feel is so I can help others, and if I don’t stand up and own and talk about it, then no one will know.”
Gabbert, a 1982 Carmel High School graduate, was diagnosed with invasive ductal carcinoma in December 2017. She had surgery in February and finished 30 radiation visits in May.
“I received lots of good support from friends,” said Gabbert, whose mother, Denise Gayley, taught at Carmel Clay Schools for nearly 30 years.
Gabbert will be joined by fellow Carmel resident Carol Freeman in the fashion show.
Freeman had a mammogram in October 2016 and was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer. Freeman, who started chemotherapy shortly afterward and concluded it in March 2017, is in remission.
“I have a check-up every three months for the next five years,” Freeman said.
Freeman, 54, said when she joined a support group 1 1/2 years ago there were 85 members. Now, there are approximately 200.
“It makes me sad we keep adding members all the time,” Freeman said. “When anyone has triple negative or reconstruction surgery I try to talk to them because I’ve done so much research on everything. I like to have coffee or lunch with them to try to calm them down and let them know life goes on.”
Freeman said she is a bit nervous about the fashion show.
“I went to it last year and it’s a great celebration of life with all the survivors,” Freeman said. “It was beautiful and a wonderful thing to attend, especially for anyone that has been touched by it.”
Freeman’s 24-year-old son, Nick Ayala, will join her in the fashion show. He opened a shop in Bloomington that sells vintage Indiana University apparel.
“My whole family is a great support, but he’s really interested in fashion and design,” Freeman said. “He drove down from Michigan, where he was living at the time when I was going through surgery, and slept in my room in a chair with me the first two nights in the hospital.”