Fresh off the Pink Runway: Breast cancer survivors strut their stuff at 9th annual Maimonides fashion show

women on pink runway
Breast cancer survivors strutted their stuff at Maimonides Medical Center’s 9th annual Pink Runway fundraiser on Oct. 14.
Maimonides Medical Center

Over two dozen cancer survivors strutted their stuff on Friday for Maimonides Medical Center’s ninth annual Pink Runway fashion show, which honors the patients, doctors and donors at the hospital’s Breast Center during Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

“Each year, Pink Runway unites doctors, patients, and families in the battle against breast cancer and celebrates the life-saving clinical care provided every day at Maimonides Breast Center,” said Maimonides CEO Kenneth Gibbs, in a statement. “It is a true honor to celebrate Pink Runway’s 9th anniversary, and we look forward to honoring our incredible patients, survivors, and dedicated oncologists for years to come.”

model at pink runway
Each model at this year’s Pink Runway event — like Saralynn Hall, pictured here — is a breast cancer survivor who received treatment at Maimonides. Maimonides Medical Center

The Breast Center opened in 2010 and was the first free-standing, fully-accredited breast cancer center in Brooklyn. Three years later in 2013, the first models took to the runway at the inaugural Pink Runway event, which was launched as a fundraiser for the award-winning cancer center. Over the years, local brands and designers have donated everything from ballgowns to adaptive post-surgery clothing to the annual runway show.

This year, each of the 17 models who took to the catwalk were survivors who were treated at Maimonides, according to the hospital. In glittering gowns in all colors and styles, the women celebrated themselves and the event’s featured honorees, who have dedicated their lives and careers to treating and curing cancer. Three Maimonides physicians — Dr. Kevin Becker, chief of the Cancer Center; Dr. Adriana Corben, vice chair of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine; and Dr. Fleure A. Gallant, a radiation oncologist — were recognized at Friday’s event.

women at pink runway event
Local company RunwayNY donated glittering gowns for the event, which raised funds for the Breast Center and honored patients and doctors at Maimonides. Maimonides Medical Center

“Pink Runway is a true testament to the strength and resiliency of our breast cancer survivors,” said Dr. Patrick Borgen, the head of the Breast Center. “As doctors, the ultimate proof of our work is being able to see our patients walk down the runway, celebrating life alongside their family and friends.”

Borgen, who is also the Chair of the Department of Surgery at Maimonides, has headed the Breast Center since the beginning. In addition to its award-winning surgical and diagnostic departments, the Breast Center also offers genetic testing for the family members of breast cancer patients who may be at higher risk, counseling, and post-treatment sexual wellness care in collaboration with Maimonides’ Pelvic Floor Center.

kenneth gibbs at maimonides fashion show
Maimonides Medical Center CEO Kenneth Gibbs said it was a “true honor” to celebrate the 9th Pink Runway and that he looked forward to similar celebrations “for years to come.” Maimonides Medical Center

The fashion show is more than just a fundraiser — for cancer patients, getting fussed over by hair and makeup teams and dolled up in designer duds is a boost for morale and self-esteem, event organizer Michael Brincat told Brooklyn Paper last year.

“If you look good, you feel good,” said Brincat, whose mother died from breast cancer in 2003, ahead of the 2021 fashion show. “I make sure these women feel the way I would want my mother to feel on a pink runway.”

The 2020 Pink Runway show was held virtually as the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic swept through New York City — but the show was back in-person at Maimonides Park last year, and was held for the first time this year at the Dyker Beach Club. The pandemic hit Maimonides — and the Breast Center in particular — hard, temporarily shutting down “elective” breast surgeries and forcing many women to delay or go without screenings.

patients at pink runway
Former patients dressed up and strutted the runway to raise money for the award-winning Breast Center at Maimonides. Maimonides Medical Center

Even so, the Breast Center treats up to 22,000 people per year, and had treated more than 228,000 patients as of last year, when it celebrated its tenth anniversary.

“At Maimonides, our dedicated team of doctors and nurses are proud to be able to provide world-class care, right here in Brooklyn, and Pink Runway helps make that possible,” said Borgen.