WEST PALM BEACH — It’s not the usual way you think of a politician but it’s fair to say that state Sen. Larcenia Bullard stole the show at a modeling gig last Saturday night.
Bullard, 65, was a charmer on the runway, graceful, confident and poised and she even had the beauty queen wave down pat.
The longtime politician from south Miami-Dade County had the crowd wildly cheering after each wardrobe change at the “Pink Strydes Affair,” an evening of fashion and comedy celebrating breast cancer survivors, held at the Palm Beach County Convention Center.
“This is so much fun! I’m having a blast!” Bullard said during the intermission.
A week earlier, Bullard learned that she was now free of cancer — not of the breast but both kidneys — the news coming during a month focused on eradicating the disease in women.
“I am cancer free today!” she exclaimed. “I had no idea my journey would come to an end this week.”
Bullard’s health problems extended beyond cancer. She suffered six heart failures and three strokes, besides cancer, all within the last three years.
“People did not know,” she said. “I continued to serve people” as a Florida senator.
Bullard said her faith, family, friends and well-wishers helped pull her through. Now, she’s eager to help someone else. She was happy to take to the runway in honor of other cancer survivors.
“If I can help other ladies to get through this, then I’m all for it,” she said Saturday.
Vanessa Robinson, founder and organizer of the “Pink Strydes Affair” and a breast cancer survivor, was glad Bullard accepted the invitation. “Making women feel beautiful is my passion,” said Robinson, who learned she had breast cancer in January. “You’re giving back to women who’ve been bruised. The senator is an inspiration to all.”
Bullard returned the compliment, hailing Robinson as a hero. “This is amazing,” she said of the event.
Robinson said she came up with the idea of the “Pink Strydes Affair” while undergoing chemo-therapy and radiation in March. “I’m the type of person that when I’m going through something like this I do best by helping others,” she said. “When I help someone else, I help myself in the process.”
Eight of the 15 models were breast cancer survivors. They took to the stage in honor of themselves and others like them.
The senator was the eldest; the youngest, was Britnee Walker, 22, who was diagnosed with cancer at age 20.
Walker said she had never known of anyone who had gotten breast cancer at such a young age.
“It’s nice to be here with other women who have gone through the same thing,” she said.
But it was not a night just of inspiration. There was laughter, as well, thanks to the host and emcee, CoCoa Brown, actress from the Tyler Perry TBS series For Better or Worse, where she plays the mother of Whitney Houston’s daughter Bobbi Christina.
Brown has a foundation, “On the Wigs of Love,” through which she and her friends donate their lace-front wigs to cancer survivors.
A representative from the Susan G. Komen Foundation was also on hand to stress the importance of early detection of breast cancer. According to her, 230,000 women will be diagnosed this year and 40,000 will die. It’s a staggering number and Robinson hopes that her event helped to shed light on both the problem of breast cancer and the solution.
“I believe there will one day be a cure. I believe so. I really do,” she said.
Daphne Taylor may be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org