The 50 Shades of Pink Foundation hosted its sixth Annual Gala & Fashion Show fundraiser in the Atlanta City Hall atrium in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
Dr. Jackie Walters M.D., a two-time breast cancer survivor, an obstetrician/gynecologist and one of the stars of the Bravo-TV’s unscripted series, “Married to Medicine,” said she created the nonprofit foundation to celebrate and honor breast cancer survivors.
More than a dozen models, all of whom were cancer survivors and supporters, strutted the runway in original designs by Bramer Leon Couture. The fashion of the night, themed, “Winter Wonderland,” embodied the foundation’s mission of enhancing the emotional and physical well-being of breast cancer patients and their families.
“Just seeing women walk the runway, who I call breast cancer warriors and not necessarily survivors, showing the world, look at me!” she said. “I’ve been through a journey, some once, some twice, several of the women are n-stage for breast cancer, walking out, showing the world, when you look good, you feel good, and you can do it too.”
The annual gala was attended by several notable guests, including Walters’ “Married to Medicine” co-stars, Dr. Heavenly Kimes, Dr. Simone Whitmore, as well as Walters’ husband Curtis Berry. Also in attendance were Pastor Taffi Dollar, “Good Day Atlanta” anchor Sharon Lawson and radio personality Sasha the Diva.
Walters said she was inspired to establish the 50 Shades of Pink Foundation while she was undergoing chemotherapy. The treatment darkened her nails and skin and made her feel horrible.
She said she would dress up, wear lipstick and nail polish, and “whatever else I needed to push myself, and I know when women look good, we feel good and when we feel good, the studies show we do much better.”
Walters pointed to troubling research numbers that show Black women are 20 to 40 percent more likely to die from breast cancer than white women.
“Some of that we’re not going to be able to change, it’s just our genetic makeup and the biology of the type of cancer that we typically end up with,” she explained.
But to lessen the risk, she said Black women especially should learn their family history, exercise to maintain their ideal body weight and also practice preventative health by getting regular mammograms.
“(October) is breast cancer awareness month and early detection is your best protection, so get your breast checked,” she said.
Walters also shared details about her life in remission, now more than ten years after she was first diagnosed with breast cancer.
“Mentally, I’m super,” she said. “I spend my days building up other women so much that I don’t have room to have too many down days. Physically, I’m better than most because I love working out.
“As for me, emotionally? Some days you have to work hard to be better than others.”
Likewise, Walters said the most rewarding part of 50 Shades is when women also tell her, “I feel good.” She recounted the heartbreaking story of a 26-year-old breast cancer warrior who was an aspiring actress.
“We had a young lady who was in her very last days of breast cancer, check out of the hospital, come and walk the runway, and just cry, because she felt good,” Walters revealed. “(Walking the runway) gave her energy, she lived another month or so, and she transitioned home in her outfit that she wore on the runway.”
Following the fashion show, Walters alongside emcees Daily Mail TV host Alicia Quarles and “For Better or Worse” actor Brad James, walked the runway, calling out friends and colleagues and soliciting donations for the 50 Shades of Pink Gift Basket Program.
The basket program provides breast cancer patients with nail polish, lipstick, a journal and other items designed to make them look good and feel good during treatment.
Finally, Walters shared some nuggets about the latest season of “Married to Medicine.”
“Season five was hard, but season six is a lot tougher,” she said. “Not so much around issues related to marriages like we experienced last year, but issues between the girls themselves.
“I mean, we have a lot of dynamics going on this year that is dividing the group,” she continued. “It’s a hot, weird, crazy season this year, where everything is going on between the ladies.”
Fans of “Married to Medicine” learned last year that Walters’ husband had been unfaithful. She explained why she’s still appearing on the show, even though it can be uncomfortable at times.
“We actually use our lives as a teaching tool, and so if I can use my light to inspire, uplift and educate others, especially women, then we all have a purpose on this earth,” she explained. “I get to talk to women about infidelity, and breast cancer, and infertility, and these struggles make me strong.”