PORTLAND, Maine — Women from all across the state gathered in Portland Saturday to rehearse for their big day: the first-ever Runway for Hope fashion show.
All of the models have something in common, they've all battled breast cancer.
"[By] doing Runway For Hope, I'm meeting new breasties," Shana Ackley said.
These new friends are going through their journeys together.
"For so long we've just been patients, we've been in hospital gowns, it's nice to not be a patient for a day. It's nice to be with women who know what you're going through and see us all coming out on the other side," Cassie Leach said.
Many women felt inclined to share their own personal stories, like Christina Clements, who was diagnosed in 2020 with stage 4 breast cancer.
"I thought that I was going to be around forever, I took my life for granted, this diagnosis has allowed me to enjoy each day. I think it's just hard living with that every day knowing that one day, I will die from this disease," Clements said.
Shana Ackley said she was too young for a mammogram when she was diagnosed.
"I had noticed a lump after wearing a sports bra to bed in the summer of 2021, I rubbed my hand across my chest and felt a pea-sized lump," she added.
Ackley said sometimes, good things in life can come out of all the bad stuff.
"I feel now that maybe cancer did pick me for a reason to help others navigate this process," Ackley said.
Leach said, "Doing this journey, you lose your identity, you lose all your hair and not just on your head, your eyelashes, eyebrows, your face gets bigger, your body gets bigger."
This event is changing how these women see themselves.
From photoshoots to runway walking, meeting new people, or catching up with old friends, this day was one these ladies will never forget.
The founders of this event have been working up to the big day for years.
"One of the biggest motivators was women I've met along the way that are no longer here," Marissa Paraschak, founder, said.
Ackley said, "I'm super excited to just get out there."
This event is being held on April 29th in Portland, it is already sold out and all the money from the ticket sales is going to breast cancer research.