It was a sold out crowd for the return of the South Central Cancer Resource (SCCR) fundraising fashion show Thursday night. Happening for the first time since 2019, the event once again brought together cancer survivors, those still receiving treatment and supportive family members for a walk on the runway at Morden's Access Event Centre to showcase styles from several local retailers. Tickets went on sale in mid-March, and sold out in a matter of a few days.

"It's just so rewarding to see such a positive turn out from the community, I'm thrilled," said SCCR Board Chair Dianne Mestdagh just moments after the show concluded. "It's a lot of hard work to organize a fashion show, and it's just rewarding to see the tickets sell out so quickly."

The participating stores included Fashions by Co-op (Winkler), Knockabouts (Carman), Livienne Bridal (Plum Coulee), Copper and Sparrow (Winkler) with eyewear provided by Focal Point Vision Care (Morden).

During intermission, Roseisle's Mackenzie Gaultier, mother of two young girls Jillian and Hallie and wife of high school sweetheart Pierre, shared her story with the crowd, reflecting on her brain cancer diagnosis at the age of 28 in the Fall of 2021, and the journey since then.

"It didn't feel real," she said. "When this journey first started, I had a seizure, and then I was told I had a brain tumor. That was terrifying. It was very, very scary. I didn't receive my official cancer diagnosis until after having awake brain surgery. When I had that diagnosis, myself and my husband, we just wanted to stay calm, because I very much did not want to scare my children. I didn't want them to automatically think mom's going to die, and so that that was important."

Gaultier speaks to the crowd Thursday eveningGaultier speaks to the crowd Thursday evening

Gaultier was told about the services and supports provided by South Central Cancer Resource, something her family is very thankful for.

"When I had to go for radiation treatments in Winnipeg at Cancer Care Manitoba, I was driven every day," she explained. "I had 33 radiation treatments, and because my cancer diagnosis started with a a seizure. I lost my license. Thirty-three week days in a row I had to go back and forth to Winnipeg, which is about an hour and a half drive from my house, and I had a driver (from SCCR's transportation program), and they provide funding for all of that. It's incredible."

Beyond sharing her story and struggles, Gaultier also offered this message to those who are, or will be in the future, battling cancer.

"I would tell somebody they need to advocate for themselves, learn as much as they possibly can, and also just take things day by day," she said. "Try not to be discouraged, enjoy life and take the time you need."

The evening ended with a standing ovation for the models, as the sold out crowd showed its appreciation for those who took to the runway. The moment wasn't lost on Mestdagh, especially with well over half of the volunteer models being first-timers.

"We're a whole new committee, so the girls in the office, I think, did a wonderful job of finding some new faces and some young faces," she said with a smile. "And the fashions were beautiful!"

Final numbers are still being calculated, but Mestdagh expects the total to be a significant amount.

- Some pictures in the gallery below courtesy Jayme Giesbrecht -