I felt beautiful and empowered and undefeated by breast cancer.

WEST ORANGE, NJ -- Susan G. Komen North Jersey hosted its Pink Champagne Lunch & Fashion Show featuring local breast cancer survivors as the models on the runway at the Mayfair Farms in West Orange on Thursday, Sept. 26.

The event celebrated survivors and connected them with advocates in the fight against breast cancer. It featured fashions by Worth New York, performances by HeART in Motion, and keynote speaker Linda Bowden, a two-time breast cancer survivor. Two of the models in the fashion show were Scotch Plains-Fanwood residents Kathi Edelson Wolder and Elaine Fernando.

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Kathi is a seasoned writer, public relations and marketing pro. In recent years and based on a very long personal  cancer journey, she has shifted her professional focus to a concentration on non-profit organizations.

She had her first lumpectomy at age 15, another lumpectomy in 1992, and then, in 1996 at the age of 42, was diagnosed with Stage 1 breast cancer. That was more than 23 years ago, and was the defining moment that transformed her into a tireless crusader for breast cancer awareness.

Shortly after her diagnosis, she stepped up to a registration table for Race for the Cure. Kathi says she was rescued by the love, the support, and the mission of the Susan G. Komen organization. She became passionately committed to spreading the message that early detection saves lives. Kathi donates an exceptional amount of pro bono PR, marketing and personal time to help organizations engaged in the fight against breast cancer, including the Susan G. Komen North Jersey Affiliate and the Male Breast Cancer Coalition.

Kathi is devoted to improving survivors' lives and helping to ease the journeys of all those diagnosed with breast cancer. She has been honored by The Susan G. Komen Greater New York and Komen North Jersey affiliates for her tireless contributions. Notably, in 2011, she received the Journey of Courage, a unique photographic essay of survivors who “demonstrate an extraordinary boldness and braveness in taking their breast cancer journey public so that others may gain hope and courage from their experiences.”

"When I was invited by Kelly Nagle, former Executive Director of Komen NJ, I did not hesitate to say yes. I felt it was a great way to empower other women who are still going through breast cancer and to survivors as well," said Elaine Fernando. "I always say to others that my scars are scars of victory -- a reminder that I won!"

"In the fashion show, I was able to show gratitude to my family and friends who have seen me through my journey... and to show everyone that I am strong," she added.

What was it like to be a model?

"It was great to feel pampered with hair and makeup for the day and to take time off from my busy work schedule to just relish that moment," Elaine added. "I felt beautiful and empowered and undefeated by breast cancer. I hope I conveyed an inner strength to others that we have to be positive no matter how difficult the journey."

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