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‘Fashion with Compassion’ goes virtual; highlights strength of cancer survivors

Click to play video 'Fashion with Compassion goes virtual, highlighting strength of cancer survivors' Fashion with Compassion goes virtual, highlighting strength of cancer survivors
WATCH ABOVE: A popular fundraiser and fashion show is reinventing itself, to continue to support clients battling cancer. Community reporter Morgan Black has more on the most intimate gala yet for Sorrentino's Compassion House. – Oct 4, 2020

A popular Edmonton fundraiser and fashion show is going virtual in its 24th year due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Syncrude presents Fashion with Compassion At Home is held in support of Compassion House Foundation and the operation of Sorrentino’s Compassion House.

The foundation supports women who have to leave their homes outside of Edmonton to receive cancer treatment, facilitated through Compassion House.

“The pandemic has certainly impacted us. We serve women who are undergoing cancer treatment and are immunocompromised. It puts them at risk of contracting COVID-19 and certainly a worse outcome,” the foundation’s CEO Michelle Okere said.

Okere said economic challenges alongside the COVID-19 pandemic have created a few funding obstacles.

“At one point we were unable to get basic necessities. We literally couldn’t get toilet paper, hand sanitizer because they were sold out. The public responded in a phenomenal way… we had people loading up our garage with items to ensure we had everything we needed to keep our doors open.”

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Okere said the event will look different, but the heart of the show remains intact.

“[The heart is] our special models, who are past guests of Compassion House. We were able to focus more on them this year. I think that is an important piece. We still have the fashion element and are also focusing on supporting local retailers and restaurants.”

Former client Marina Rosta will be taking part in this year’s show, walking the digital runway.

Marina Rosta at Sorrentino’s Compassion House
Marina Rosta at Sorrentino’s Compassion House. Courtesy: Compassion House Foundation

“I stayed at the Compassion House from the first week of December until the middle of January,” Rosta said. “It’s a wonderful place. It was a safe haven for me.”

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Rosta lives in Jasper and was looking for an affordable solution to access the daily treatment and care she needed.

“To be honest, [being diagnosed] completely blindsided me. There is nobody immune to this. I am healthy, active. I didn’t expect it. I found a lump. If any women find a lump, don’t mess around with it. Don’t wait like I did.”

Read more: Bladder Cancer Canada’s annual walk goes virtual to raise awareness, bolster research

Rosta said she is now cancer free and is proud to walk in the show, alongside the friends she made at Compassion House.

“I was grateful to be able to access the treatment I needed to save my life. I also knew my family wouldn’t be worried, they knew I was in a safe caring environment. It was exactly what I needed.”

You can buy tickets to the Oct. 8 fashion show here.