By Elly Park
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Defiant breast cancer survivors, some with raised fists and bared surgical scars, modeled lingerie in a charity show during New York Fashion week to raise funds to support breast cancer patients.
Academy-award winning actress Mira Sorvino introduced the AnaOno Intimates show that featured designs for cancer patients who had mastectomies or reconstructive surgeries.
More than a dozen models confidently sashayed down the runway in lace underwear, sheer and crocheted tops and platform heels and boots to applause from the audience at the packed show in lower Manhattan.
Nearly half of the models in the show have metastatic, or advanced, breast cancer that has spread beyond their breast, according to designer Dana Donofree. The disease claims 40,000 lives in the United States each year.
"I felt powerful, felt really powerful because I am tired of kind of feeling ashamed of having cancer and not having breasts like a woman," 45-year-old model Chiaro D'Agostino, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2016, said after the Sunday show.
"Whether I have nipples or breasts or not, I am a woman," the New Jersey teacher and blogger with advanced cancer added.
Donofree, the founder of the brand, lost both of her breasts to the disease after being diagnosed at the age of 27. She launched the label following reconstructive surgery when she realized traditional lingerie didn't fit.
"It is a very important moment for them to get out there and experience something like this because breast cancer has taken over their bodies," she said after her first show at New York Fashion Week. "We need to expose that on that level, and let people know this is a disease and women do die from this."
Paige Moore, 24, hit the runway just five weeks after having a preventative double mastectomy following a positive test for the BRCA1 genetic mutation that can raise the risk of developing the disease.
"I felt sexy, I felt beautiful, and I was proud," she said about walking in the show. "I was like these scars are sexy and awesome, and I am here, I am alive and I feel good. That is all that matters."
All of the proceeds from the show will go to the charity #Cancerland, an advocacy and outreach charity for patients.
New York Fashion Week, a semi-annual event, ends on Thursday.
(Writing by Patricia Reaney; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)