Ugly disease in an elegant dress #FashioningCancer

A week after your annual physical at the doctor’s office, you receive a phone call to come back…ASAP. You rack your brain imagining what it could be, with seemingly every disease and infection crossing your mind, except CANCER. You eat well, exercise, barely drink, and never smoke. How could this happen? Distraught and overwhelmed, you attempt to prepare yourself for the next steps…

In 2012, cancer took the lives of 8.2 million individuals.

The annual cancer cases of that same year estimated 14 million, with that number expected to jump to 22 million in the next two decades (WHO, 2014). Take that alarming amount, and tack on the friends, family members, and significant others of those affected; it’s a nasty disease that doesn’t end with the individual.

Unfortunately, we can take precautions in life, but there is no preventative vaccine that protects against all types of cancer. One cannot hide from it, nor can they run from it – for now. What we can do, though, is learn about it through research and discussion, and progress what treatments exist as of yet.

In a world where ugly and beautiful are often interchangeable – one man or woman’s idea of perfection, is not identical to another’s – surely we must be able to find beauty in something as ugly as cancer. Jacqueline Firkins, a costume design professor for UBC’s Department of Theatre and Film, did just that. With the help of UBC scientist Christian Naus, Firkins drew inspiration from microscopic cancer cells to design ten elegant evening gowns.

What started as an interdepartmental research project, turned into a swanky fundraiser, appropriately named Fashioning Cancer. The event was held at Porsche Centre Vancouver, where the dresses were displayed and then auctioned off. Global TV’s Sophie Lui, who co-emceed the event with “Man About Town” Fred Lee, donned one of Firkins’ gorgeous dresses. This particular dress sold for $5,000, half of which was from a donor who offered to match anyone willing to pay $2,500 for it. Apparently altruism does exist…

Combined with the silent auction and ticket sales, the event raised more than $25,000.

Bif Naked, a cancer survivor, put on a heartfelt show for the crowd of business professionals and community leaders – many of whom have been touched by cancer.

The event was catered by Hawksworth Restaurant, with wines from Charitable Wines, and beer from Peroni.

For more photos, check out my Fashioning Cancer gallery on Flickr.

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