Lynn Woman Walks in Charity Fashion Show for BMC Cancer Care
Elys Rullan Rivera can recall perfectly the day she got the news. It was November 2013, just a few months after her 20th birthday, and the North Shore Community College student received an unimaginable diagnosis: stage II breast cancer.
Rullan Rivera began treatment at Boston Medical Center (BMC) soon after, undergoing surgery and two rounds of chemotherapy. Incidence of breast cancer in women as young as Rullan Rivera is rare; according to the American Cancer Society, less than five percent of all diagnoses occur in women under the age of 40. Typically upbeat, Rullan Rivera says she tried to approach her situation the same way she would any other—with a smile.
“I knew I was going to be fine,” she says, now cancer-free. “Going to chemo, I was never sad. I was always happy.”
Rullan Rivera, a Lynn resident, says her positive attitude—and her characteristic “dress to impress” mantra—is what inspired her nurse and her mother, Sonia Rivera, to recommend her for one of the hospital’s annual fundraisers: the Catwalk for BMC Cancer Care.
The event, which was held June 26 at the State Room in downtown Boston, showcased Rullan Rivera and 12 other BMC cancer patients as they walked the runway alongside hospital staff, professional models, and area celebrities. All models were styled professionally and sported apparel created by local designers, including Candice Wu and David Josef. The fundraiser was attended by roughly 350 people, and generated more than $200,000. According to hospital reps, all proceeds go toward BMC cancer support services like integrative medicine therapies and support groups.
Rullan Rivera says stepping onto the runway Thursday night was the most amazing experience of her life.
“I couldn’t believe it was real. I was in shock to see so many people cheering and supporting me,” she says. “I felt loved and appreciated. This event completely made me feel stronger.”
For Rullan Rivera, an important part of participating in the BMC fundraiser was having an opportunity to help her fellow cancer patients. She says that she wants to become an advocate for young people who are battling the disease.
“By doing this, I can show people who are going through the same thing that miracles do happen, and to have faith and never give up,” she says. “I hope this event will change other peoples’ lives the same way it changed mine.”