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Bloomington Woman Brings Her Cancer Fight To New York Fashion Week Runway

Katie Bertsche on the runway
Twin City Plastic Surgery
Bloomington resident Katie Bertsche, 36, walked the runway at New York Fashion Week on Feb. 9 for AnaOno Intimates.

For Katie Bertsche, her own fight with breast cancer has inspired her to raise awareness about metastatic breast cancer.

Bertsche, 36, of Bloomington, was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2011. She underwent chemotherapy, radiation and had a double mastectomy. In 2015, the metastatic cancer had spread to her bones, and she is now experiencing her third recurrence.

Bertsche said she is surprised by how little people know about breast cancer.

“I’ve noticed throughout my journey with breast cancer how uneducated people are when it comes to women who have breast cancer,” said Bertsche. “A lot of people don’t know that most companies, most organizations donate less than 4% of their donations to stage 4 research, and stage 4 breast cancer is the only breast cancer that kills.”

Bertsche walked the runway at New York Fashion Week on Feb. 9 with around 30 other women who have been touched by breast cancer in one way or another. Some have undergone reconstructive surgeries, while others are “previvors,” or women who carry the breast cancer gene.

The women were modeling for AnaOno Intimates, an apparel line for women who have undergone mastectomies. The fashion show raised funds for METAvivor Research and Support Inc., a nonprofit organization that raises money for research that benefits people with stage 4 breast cancer.

“I feel inspired because it will be nice to meet other people that are in similar shoes that I’ve been in,” said Bertsche.

Bertsche said it’s normal for women who have experienced breast cancer to have bad days, but it’s important to try to keep a positive attitude.

“Just because you have breast cancer and lose part of your body, doesn’t mean you’re any less sexy or beautiful or womanly than the girl next door,” said Bertsche.

Although she may not continue modeling, Betsche said she is excited to continue spreading awareness about metastatic breast cancer.

“It’s nice to use what little platform I have to get the message out there,” said Bertsche.

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Cindy Hernandez is a reporting and social media intern at WGLT. She's a senior in Illinois State University's School of Communication.