And the contest’s winners are: Vera Wang? Oscar de la Renta? Adrianna and Isabella Parker? Wait, who? Yes, on this special day in the month of October, which happened to be National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the mother and daughter team of Adrianna and Isabella Parker created their own ‘’Zen Garden,’’ the winning design in the second annual Bra Day Decorating Contest in Silicon Valley, co-hosted by Cancer CAREpoint.
Although art and fashion have a lot of collaborative artistic trespassing, the Parkers’ ‘’Zen Garden’’ idea was inspired by the passion and compassion the two women shared. ‘’The year I was sick, while going through chemotherapy and multiple surgeries, it was a challenging time for me and my two children,’’ said Adrianna Parker of her two children, Isabella, now sixteen, and Max, fourteen. ‘’During the time I was sick, I think Bella found she needed to act strong. She never cried during the whole ordeal. I thought now that we are on the other side of the illness, creating something together would be a healing process for both of us. And it was! When we were trying to come up with a ‘theme’ we talked a lot about challenges during my illness as well as all the acts of kindness and support from friends and family. We decided we wanted to make something that would bring peace and tranquility during a time when your world feels turned upside down. That is how we came up with ‘Zen Garden.’’’
The Bra Decorating Contest event generated an amazing sense of creativity and attracted many women and men from around the Bay Area. The contest was judged by Lissa Kreisler, the KBAY Radio on-air personality, who was honored this year as the 2015 Member of the Bay Area Radio Hall of Fame; by Peggy Fleming, the 1968 Olympic Gold Medalist Champion in Ladies’ Singles, a three-time World Champion (1966–1968) in figure skating, and a television commentator for over twenty years; and by Sylvia Arenas, member of the board of the Evergreen Community College District.
Here is the recap of my question and answer session with two of the distinguished celebrity judges that I had the privilege and honor to have met personally but with whom I communicated the high-tech way for this feature:
‘’The Bra Day event was a fun event and everyone seemed to have a good time as well as learning more about life after Breast Cancer and the new found spirit you have as a survivor,’’ said Peggy Fleming. ‘’It’s hard to choose just one winner. The message in all of them had strength, humor and beauty. Surviving is a journey in which you learn a lot about yourself, and find you are stronger than you ever thought you could be. I thought of my own experience and the attitude I felt when I was on the same journey. The bra designs captured many of the feelings I had experienced.’’ She added, ‘’I was a judge last year as well and wanted to participate again because I think this gathering educates you on the medical advancements that are happening today. And how you can feel beautiful again.’’
Lissa Kreisler, of KBAY, said, ‘’I actually picked the winner, the Zen Garden. Loved the look and really loved the sentiment… [It] was so hard to decide on a number one, two or three as every one was wonderful in its own right. Each had a message of hope and survival and you could tell in several cases it was a personal message.’’ She added, ‘’I missed Bra Day last year, but after attending this year I will never miss it again. So inspirational, so wonderful to be with women and men who have been or are currently on a journey that can be so difficult. To see the hope, the optimism and the fun of creating a bra that tells your story is so inspiring.’’
The Decorated Bra Contest was celebrated at a sold out event at the stunning Testarossa Winery, located in the hills of the beautiful town of Los Gatos. ‘’The fact that this event sold out shows that women want to know about their options following surgery and most important – that federal law mandates coverage of breast reconstruction for all breast cancer patients, even if such reconstruction is delayed until after other treatments,’’ said Rob Tufel, Executive Director of Cancer CAREpoint San Jose. ‘’This was Cancer CAREpoint’s second Bra Day in Silicon Valley and it was initiated by Cancer CAREpoint board member Dr. Kamakshi Zeidler, the Board Certified Plastic Surgeon in San Jose.’’
‘’The idea of having surgery is daunting whether it is something you need, or something you want. Each patient has a unique anatomy, lifestyle, and vision of an ideal result,’’ commented Dr. Zeidler. ‘’I spent a long time in training to be able to offer you many different options to tailor techniques for achieving these ideal results,’’ stated Dr. Zeidler, Diplomate, American Board of Plastic Surgery.
‘’Bra Day is just one of the events and programs that Cancer CAREpoint does throughout the year to let cancer patients know there is support and help,’’ said Gay Crawford, Cancer CAREpoint Chair, Marketing Advisory Committee. ‘’We are the only local non-profit organization in San Jose providing non-medical support at no-cost to any cancer patient or family member regardless of cancer type, where they get their medical treatment or insurance status. Our programs include nutrition, exercise, a Wig Bank, counseling, guided imagery, therapeutic massage and much more. Check out our website especially our new program for Parents with Cancer: www.cancercarepoint.org.’’
The first-ever Bra Day in 2014 attracted 100 attendees. This year’s Bra Day was sold out with 140 participants. The organizers are already planning next year’s Bra day (which always takes place on the 3rd Wednesday in October) and looking for a larger venue to accommodate all the people who are interested.
Bra Day is part of a national campaign to raise awareness and was started by a Canadian surgeon in 2011. It is organized nationally by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons and The Plastic Surgery Foundation which lead the Breast Reconstruction Awareness USA Campaign, with the following goals:
* All women who are candidates for breast reconstruction should be made aware of the options available to them.
* All women who are candidates for breast reconstruction should be offered treatment in a safe and timely manner.
* Federal law mandates coverage of breast reconstruction for all breast cancer patients, even if such reconstruction is delayed until after other treatments.
You can find more information about the national movement at http://www.breastreconusa.org/about-us.
Photos by Lina Broydo.
Lina Broydo immigrated from Russia, then the Soviet Union, to Israel where she was educated and got married. After working at the University in Birmingham, England she and her husband immigrated to the United States. She lives in Los Altos Hills, CA and writes about travel, art, style, entertainment, and sports. She hardly cooks or bakes, with no borsch or piroshky on her home cooking menu. Therefore, she makes reservations and enjoys dining out, mostly sushi.
By Lina Broydo