Artful Bra event raises money for Ellis Fischel Cancer Center patients

Multiple categories encouraged creativity in entries, with bids starting from $1.25 to $100.
The Ellis Fischel Cancer Center hosted the 9th annual Artful Bra silent auction to raise money for cancer patients that cannot afford treatment. Courtesy of Facebook via Ellis Fischel Cancer Center

Stepping off the elevator into the second floor of the Ellis Fischel Cancer Center Thursday evening, guests were immediately greeted by a colorful array of decorated bras and their large crowd of admirers.

Catchphrases like “Suck it! Lick cancer goodbye!’ “Treasure your breasts” and “Keep your rack intact because cancer is bucked up” adorn the bras, prompting laughs and grins from the onlookers.

The bras are for more than just decoration, however. Each is an entry in the 9th annual Artful Bra Silent Auction and Reception hosted by Ellis Fischel Cancer Center. The proceeds from the auction are used to pay for treatment for Ellis patients who are either underinsured or uninsured.

“All of the money goes straight back to the Ellis Fischel patients, through a program called the Breast Cancer Patient Care Assistance Fund,” Angela Winterbower, Outreach Coordinator for the Center, said. “This allows us to provide mammograms, mastectomies, patient transportation and more. We want to help everyone who comes through our doors.”

According to T.J Sweet, Practice Manager at the Center, there were 51 total bras this year. There are multiple categories for bra entries and said categories change each year. This year, there were six: Holidays, Humor, Inspirational/Motivational/Hope, Nature, Recycled/Repurposed and Travel/Adventure.

“The most popular category this year was Holiday,” Sweet said. “The entries come from within the hospital and staff, survivors and the local community.”

The cheerleading squad from Hickman High School were among those from the local community who entered this year. They also performed at the event.

“We first did it last year and it was a really good experience,” senior Ania Ratliff said. “This year, we split into two teams and made two different bras. If possible, I’d do it every year. If I could encourage other girls to do it, I would.”

According to Winterbower, the event makes between three and four thousand dollars annually. Starting bids on the bras ranged from $1.25 to $100, ensuring that bidding was accessible to a variety of guests.

“We’re just looking for an increase each year —it keeps growing,” Winterbower said. “Every little bit helps.”

At the close of the auction period, the top three from each category were announced, as well as the “People’s Choice Award,” which was given to the contestant whose bra was most popular with those who attended the event. Winning contestants received large gift baskets for their contributions.

Additionally, special guest and breast cancer survivor Laura Burnett spoke towards the end of the event. Burnett has worked at MU for 13 years and now works as associate director of Clinic Operations.

“I want to share with you my journey,” Burnett said. “It was a triathlon. If you think of a triathlon, it's a continuous, sequential endurance test. I was staged with an aggressive diagnosis of Stage 3C BRCA1 breast cancer. During my three events in my triathlon, I had 16 chemo treatments, a bilateral mastectomy and 32 radiation treatments.”

Burnett said she had a strong support system through Ellis Fischel, her family and her colleagues and friends.

“I truly believe the reason I’m standing here today is because Ellis Fischel Breast Cancer Center helped me so quickly with my diagnosis,” Burnett said. “From the time I found my lump, to the time I had my first chemo treatment, was 11 days. That’s the reason why I’m here today. I’m glad to see the turnout today, because it’s events like this that help bring the community together to fight breast cancer.”

Edited by Morgan Smith |

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