Dream a little dream

Posted: July 20th, 2018 | Features, Top Stories | No Comments

By Jeff Clemetson | Editor

Cancer survivors shine on catwalk at Living Fashion Show

Tanya Lamons knows how to make dreams come true.

“I had a dream to give survivors, cancer fighters and caregivers a moment to shine and maybe forget about cancer for minute and just feel beautiful and empowered,” she said. “Thankfully, I got surrounded by the right people. They’re like my tribe. We came together and we made this happen.”

Cancer survivor Tanya Lamons takes a stroll down the red carpet at the conclusion of the Living Fashion Show, an event she founded to raise money for the American Cancer Society. (Photo by Jeff Clemetson)

What Lamons and her tribe came together for was the inaugural Living Fashion Show — a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society (ACS) held at Civita Park in Mission Valley on June 30.

Lamons said she dreamed up the idea for the fashion show soon after she was diagnosed with Li-Fraumeni syndrome, which is a cancer gene that gives people who carry it a 90 percent chance of getting cancer.

“My mom, she was 36 when she passed away,” Lamons said. “But [the fashion show idea] kind of inspired me to make it so it wasn’t for nothing — and with the time I have, I want to make a difference.”

(l to r) Living Fashion Show models and event organizers: event coordinator
Leilani Angel; models Michelle, Fran, Andi, Catherine, Rebecca, Larkin, Julia;
event producer Tanya Lamons; and model Crystal (Photo by Jeff Clemetson)

Recruiting models for the Living Fashion Show was easy for Lamons, who used her circle of friends she met through her work with the ACS Relay For Life event. Lamons got involved with Relay For Life five years ago after her first cancer diagnosis.

“It was incredible because all I ever knew about cancer was that everybody I knew who had it died and then there was this survivor lab and I saw people alive … and I was like, ‘I can live, it’s not a death sentence. I can live and it can be amazing.’” she said.

Relay For Life is a fundraising event where teams of people walk for 24 hours.

“The reason behind that is because cancer never sleeps, so why should they?” said ACS Senior Manager of Community Development, Karen Cook. “It’s a celebration for those who have overcome their battle with cancer. It’s an opportunity to remember those who have been lost and it’s also a chance to gather people together to fight back against cancer.”

Cook met Lamons through Relay For Life events and through another ACS fundraiser — an annual cabaret event that Lamons started three years ago.

Cancer survivor Larkin models fashions by Jungle Hippie. (Photo by Jeff Clemetson)

Cook said the Living Fashion Show was a lot of fun and hopes it will also become an annual event.

“It was really great seeing some of the other cancer survivors I’ve met, though other events and in other ways, with ACS just out there having a wonderful time,” she said.

Cook isn’t the only one who sees the fashion show becoming an annual event. Leilani Angel, a fashion show production specialist and organizer of the Living Fashion Show, said she hopes the show will grow to be one of San Diego’s premier fashion events.

Angel met Lamons at a gym soon after Lamons was diagnosed with cancer, and she was eager to help when her friend reached out about putting on the fashion show fundraiser. Angel began organizing the event six months ago, contacting different fashion designers and people in the industry.

“I specifically focus on ethical fashion brands, so I partner with brands that are mindful to people, animals and the planet that have a social component built into their mission,” she said.

Model and cancer survivor Julia stops for a selfie on the catwalk. (Photo by Jeff Clemetson)

For the inaugural Living Fashion Show, three designers were featured: Golden Rule Boutique, a local designer and curator that specializes in fair trade fashion; Jungle Hippie, a brand that features high-end tie-dye pants and other casual wear; and Sharlene Borromeo from A’doreus, a local fashion designer with a national following.

“I’m very thankful that the community came together with the social mission of celebrating cancer warriors and donating back to the American Cancer Society,” Angel said. “I think that’s the nature of this entire event; it’s good people with a good heart with a good social mission all coming together.”

Lamons’ dream of a fashion show for cancer survivors came true on June 30, but there is still one dream that is yet unrealized.

“The end dream is to end cancer,” she said. “I dream of events like this so we can reach out and give people a source – somewhere they can get help; it creates that feeling of community.”

—Reach Jeff Clemetson at

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