Meet the Models: Melissa Kahn White

At 39 years old, Melissa Kahn White went in for her annual OBGYN appointment. Given her proximity to 40, her doctor encouraged her to get her first mammogram: “I wasn’t nervous or scared. It was just something on my to-do list.” After finding something suspicious, doctors ordered more testing and Melissa all of a sudden “fell into a black hole” of fear and doubt

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Meet the Models: Kate Lepore

Kate Lepore was shocked to learn of her breast cancer diagnosis. She had no family history, but in years past she had dense tissue that had always later been cleared as normal by doctors. It’s why, when her mammogram came back abnormal six months ago, she assumed she would be cleared once again. While the news was profoundly life changing, the one positive was that Kate’s dedication to adhere to regular mammograms allowed her breast cancer to be caught early, which increases her chances of a great outcome. It was a small comfort during an otherwise arduous time.

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Meet the Models: Diane and Anastasia Hansen

Last year Diane and Anastasia lit up the runway. As a mother/daughter duo, the two represented what began at the core of Runway for Recovery- mothers and daughters. They will hit the runway again this year to honor all their family has gone through during Diane’s breast cancer diagnosis and treatment.

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Meet the Models: Jenn Puhle

Jen Puhle is in the thick of her cancer battle. Nearly a year ago, she was diagnosed with breast cancer and a mere few weeks later received a double mastectomy. While her mother had breast cancer in her 70s, Jen had no family history and was BRCA negative. Her MRI was just precautionary, as she had dense breast tissue. When the doctor came back with the results, all Jen remembers is her saying, “you’re not going to die from this.”

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Meet the Models: Katie Smith

Katie Smith was enjoying all the facets of being a new mother to her boys, ages 2 and 5. In fact, she and her husband were trying for a third. Six months prior, given extensive family history of breast cancer, Katie received her first mammogram, at an earlier than typical age, and was all clear. She carried on with family life and being a science teacher to her middle schoolers. Her seemingly blissful family existence was soon shattered, first by a miscarriage and then a devastating diagnosis of stage four metastatic breast cancer. Katie has been fighting the disease for three years now.

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Meet the Models: Lisa Hennessy

Lisa Hennessy did not think twice about breast cancer in her thirties. There was no family history, but one day her 39 year old cousin called her up to tell her she had breast cancer. Lisa was shocked, but immediately began to advocate for herself with doctors. She asked her OBGYN several times if she should be tested, but given that she was 34, her doctors did not think testing was necessary. Shortly after having her third child, Lisa noticed what she thought, at the time, to be a blocked duct. Doctors agreed to screen it to be safe. On March 1, 2017, doctors alerted Lisa that she had HER2 invasive ductal carcinoma that had already spread to her lymph nodes. Lisa notes, “I immediately went into mode” and, given the aggressive nature of the cancer, on March 31st she began treatment.

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Meet the Models: Sharon DeCastro

Breast cancer has been apart of Sharon’s story for many years. She married her, now husband, after he had lost his first wife to breast cancer. She also became a step-mom to 10 year old Julia, who had seen her mom bravely battle the disease for nearly a decade. It’s why, when Sharon felt a small lump in her breast, she waived it off thinking, “lightening could not strike this household twice

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Meet the Models: Melissa Brandt

A number of years ago, Melissa Brandt felt a strong feeling to get genetic testing done. A variety of women in her family had breast cancer over the years and while they didn’t have access to advancements in genetic technology, Melissa took advantage of the fact that she did. It’s a decision that most likely saved her life. Melissa tested positive for BRCA2. Her father, brother and aunt would go on to test the same. She immediately spoke with a genetic counselor who encouraged her to see her doctors.

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Meet the Models: Meredith Parkinson

Meredith Parkinson is an ironman triathlete. In other words, she is a total bad*** who is extremely in tune with her body and it’s limits. It’s why, when one of her children accidently kicked her in the breast, the pain she felt made her uneasy. It was worse than normal and after some self checks, she felt a bump in her armpit.

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Meet the Models: Rebecca Kitchen

Rebecca Kitchen was on her way to urgent care when she decided to stop home for a quick shower. While showering she noticed a lump in her breast. Not thinking much of it, she brought it up to the urgent care doctor just in case. He too believed it to be a cyst, or something minor given Rebecca’s young age of 30. To be safe he sent her for a mammogram and ultrasound, both of which came back inconclusive. Three biopsies later, Rebecca was diagnosed with stage three ductal carcinoma breast cancer. It came as a complete shock: “it was so far outside the realm of possibilities for me. I would never have even thought it was possible.” Indeed, Rebecca had no family history and later genetic testing would reveal she also had no precursors.

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