Between Women’s Pink Gala Luncheon and Fashion Show Infuses Survivors with Élan

(L-R) Oreda Chin, Sara Cruz, and Gracie Romero share a laugh while putting finishing touches on the silent auction items during the Pink Gala at the Barcelona Event Center.

EL CENTRO — Oreda Chin wanted her first Between Women major fundraiser to be a success. Since she stepped into the daunting shoes of Between Women founder Linda Cady, Chin has held several smaller events such as the “Sip and Paint,” but Saturday’s annual luncheon was not geared just to bring needed funds into the non-profit benefitting women through support, education, and outreach — the event’s main focus was pampering patients battling cancer. Chin’s goal was providing a meaningful time for those that came to the luncheon as supporters.

Through the help of Barcelona event center’s owner, Jesus Rubalcaba, the two transformed the Barcelona Event Center into an elegant Pink Gala Luncheon and Fashion Show Saturday featuring oncology nurse Alicia Ortega as keynote speaker.

Ortega held the crowded room spellbound as the young nurse spoke of her own personal discovery of cancer.

“Oncology nurses aren’t suppose to get cancer,” Ortega told the room. “I used to deal with my patients through text book answers and previous patient relationships. Suddenly, I was experiencing what they were telling me,” Ortega said, bringing her voice down to a whisper.

The double mastectomy cancer survivor related to her captivated audience by putting on her floppy sun hat, and then adding labels of cancer, wife, mother, nurse and more, she spoke of each trial as the room bonded with the young nurse speaking at the podium. They understood her plight, and she gave voice to their tenuous lives.

Following the keynote speech, survivors and cancer patients all walked the red runway, modeling the styles of event sponsor Macy’s latest fashions, and effectively proving to the room, themselves, and the world that there is life after hearing the dreaded C diagnosis.

One woman modeled clothes just days after undergoing surgery, showing her fellow warriors there is more to them than their diagnosis.

Between Women Executive Director Chin may be new to the Valley and to the organization, but as a cancer survivor, she is quick to know the needs of her fellow travelers. She is finding her love for the Valley outweighs the idiosyncrasies of working in a rural area compared to the fast-paced life of a major city back east. And, with the help of her assistant Sara Cruz, Between Women continues doing the good work began by Cady so many years ago.