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Heroes in Heels fashion show: showing beauty through resilience


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Photos and Story by Elizabeth Juengling

Murfreesboro celebrated the community’s breast cancer survivors at the 9th annual YMCA Heroes in Heels fashion show at New Vision Baptist Church on Oct. 21, 2019. 

Shane McFarland, mayor of Murfreesboro, opened the event with a short prayer. Melanie Cavender, the After Breast Cancer (ABC) coordinator, followed McFarland by explaining the importance of ABC and introducing Holly Thompson of WSMV Channel 4 as the master of ceremonies.

38 men and women of all ages walked the runway in front of family, friends, and survivors alike. Dillards provided clothes to each model and the Georgia Career Institute provided makeup services. 

Friends and family got to celebrate along with the survivors through catering by Slick Pig BBQ and an array of door prizes graciously donated by multiple local businesses. 

Judy McCaskill, a breast cancer survivor and participant in the fashion show, said “This event gets survivors together to talk to one another and create a fellowship.”  McCaskill also said it is a great way to raise money in support of breast cancer survivors, and all of the proceeds benefit the YMCA Murfreesboro Community’s ABC Program.

The presenting sponsor, Bumpus Harley-Davidson of Murfreesboro donated $10,000 to the ABC Program.  

After Breast Cancer created this event to raise awareness about the difficulties of post-surgery breast cancer. The ABC Program offers support to breast cancer survivors through the ABC Wig Bank and the Journey to Wholeness. 

The ABC Wig Bank has given nearly 500 wigs to community members going through chemotherapy, whether it is breast cancer related or not. The bank was opened nine years ago in memoriam of Pam Arnold, a breast cancer survivor.

The Journey to Wholeness is a 9 week class for breast cancer survivors to connect with other survivors and discuss the mental part of the journey.  Cavander said that breast cancer post-op specialists help survivors “relate their former life while figuring out their future life.” 

The program uses fitness, healthy-eating, and mental guidance to give survivors support after they start recovery and no longer have daily support from professionals. The City of Murfreesboro partnered with ABC Rutherford after the local YMCA closed to ensure that survivors have memberships recreation centers and parks. 

Dani Bowland, daughter of survivor and participant Karen Bowland, said “You don’t know how to help yourself after not having doctors. The program brings knowledge that there are people out there to help you.”

To contact Lifestyles Editor Brandon Black, email

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