Adriana Yanez of Deltona died on Feb. 20 after a battle with breast cancer. Making Memories Breast Cancer Foundation granted her a wish: to reimburse a friend, who paid $2,000 to fly Yanez’s parents from Venezuela to Florida to be with her. Yanez died before the wish was granted.
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Beverly Zaldivar slipped into six or seven wedding gowns before she found the “one” at the Brides Against Cancer’s nationwide Tour of Gowns in Orlando.
She did not plan to spend that much on a dress, but the off-white Lila Couture was a steal at the discounted price of $559.
Zaldivar was willing to splurge. After all, she never dreamed of trying on a wedding gown after a battle with breast cancer — one she thought she was going to loss.
“When I was going through chemotherapy, I sat down with my dogs and I told them ‘mom is going,'” Zaldivar, 55, said.
Zaldivar, who was diagnosed with cancer in 2000, is undergoing reconstruction on her right breast after it was removed. As a survivor, she said it was important she find a dress there for her Aug. 28 wedding in Spring Hill.
The money from the gown sales goes to the Making Memories Breast Cancer Foundation based in Portland, Ore. The nonprofit group grants wishes for men and women battling terminal breast cancer. In the U.S., a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer every three minutes and a woman dies from the disease every 13 minutes, according to the nonprofit.
Many cancer patients ask to go to Orlando’s theme parks for one last family vacation, said Elise Enloe, the state coordinator for the Brides Against Breast Cancer.
“They spend every last penny on their doctor’s appointments and day care [when] they have to go to chemotherapy. There’s nothing left for fun vacations,” she said.
The nonprofit has granted wishes to more than 60 people, according to their Web site.
Adriana Yanez of Deltona was one of them.
A friend, also a single mom, decided to pay $2,000 to fly her parents from Venezuela to Central Florida after her health began to deteriorate rapidly and fund-raising was trickling in.
“She really wanted her mom there. … She had no family here,” said Rosie Moore, another friend involved in the fund-raising.
But Yanez dreamed of paying back the money. Moore, a volunteer with the Tour of Gowns, connected her to the nonprofit.
“It meant the world for her that someone was willing to help,” said Moore, a wedding planner from Windermere.
Yanez, 44, lost her battle to cancer Feb. 20 before Making Moments could provide her the money. But her wish did not go unheard.
Making Memories plans to drop in the mail a check for her friend on Monday, said spokeswoman Erin Scharf.
The Tour of Gowns kicked off Friday at The University Club at 150 E. Central Blvd. More than 900 dresses were donated by designers, manufactures and stores. They are priced from $99 to $3,000, but most run between $700 and $1,500. Brides-to-be can still shop on Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Enloe expects about 80 to 100 women at the three-day event.
Danielle Damato, 33, drove from Ocala in search of a gown for her upcoming wedding. Like most women at the event, cancer has affected people in Damato’s life. Her friend was diagnosed with breast cancer. Her father had skin cancer removed from his head. And her mother, Patricia Damato, is battling lymphoma.
Patricia Damato, of Crystal River, said shopping for the dress with her daughter gives her a chance to look to a brighter future and “not to dwell” on her battle with cancer.
“I want to think of the future — her wedding. … I’d like to see Danielle give me a grandchild,” she said.
Zaldivar said the event also encourages the brides-to-be to care for their health. Zaldivar caught the breast cancer in its early stages after a self-examination.
“Make sure you get your check-ups … depend on yourself,” she said.
Eloísa Ruano González can be reached at email@example.com or 407-650-6673.