Courage and color at FACC’s cancer fundraiser

FACC founder Josie Moralidad Ziman with emcees Carl Abella of FACC Board of Directors; and U.S. Navy Commander and Pentagon Spokesperson Jessica McNulty, a breast cancer survivor.

By Cristina DC Pastor

It was in 2002 that cancer may have made itself known to journalist Josie Moralidad Ziman,  a new immigrant in the Washington D.C. area.

“I developed an abscess infection in my left breast,” she recalled. “I didn’t have an insurance at that time.  One doctor in Maryland was kind enough to drain the breast abscess and did a surgical incision.  I was supposed to be hospitalized during that time but I ended doing it in his clinic because of my financial status.  It was a painful procedure because he didn’t use an anesthesia.”

She lived with that condition until 2018 when she was told she had developed Stage 1 breast cancer despite annual mammogram screenings. She underwent a mastectomy procedure a month later.

Josie is thankful to newfound friends for seeing her though her health debacle. She prays to her Creator most of all for giving her the passion and strength to create the Filipino American Cancer Care (FACC) nonprofit, noting the irony: The community with the most number of nurses has no organization devoted to cancer care.

Models gather for a group shot.

“The FACC is serving an underserved community that has not received national attention which is surprising given all the success of our community in the fields of medicine and nursing,” she said in keynoting the FACC’s Walk for a Cause fundraiser held at the Philippine Center in New York.

FACC was co-founded by Josie in 2020 in the Washington D.C. area. It is now a full-fledged non-profit  with a devoted board of directors, and an army of supporters and creatives who are mostly cancer survivors or had family members fighting the disease.

Pentagon spokesperson Jessica McNulty, who emceed the fashion show fundraiser and is a member of the FACC board,  is a breast cancer survivor like Josie. Journalist Marivir Montebon, who walked the ramp modeling some of the clothes by designer Carl Andrada, lost her daughter to colon cancer. Carl’s connection to cancer is through his mother who perished from liver cancer. Cancer has touched the lives of almost everyone who participated in the February 17 Walk for a Cause, some in  fatal or surprisingly triumphant ways. That’s what made FACC’s event especially poignant.

Jan Andrada Lane; Marivir Montebon
Designer Carl Andrada (seated) with FACC model and sponsor Jeanette Coker and Mr. Washington D.C. and model Dave Valeriano

Josie shared how she felt after visiting cancer patient beneficiaries  at the St. Anthony College Hospital in Roxas City, Capiz: “I realized after meeting them and their families that no child should be left behind in the fight against cancer.  Not one of us can just live on our own and within ourselves only.  We all have something unique and special to offer by basically giving our time, effort and genuine support to those in need and suffering of cancer.”

Walk for a Cause was able to meet its goal of raising $10,000 for 10 new recipients of $1,000 each, one of them only 1 year old.  The patients come from the U.S. and the Philippines; they have no health insurance or need assistance with care and medication.  FACC is waiting for more people to come forward. Josie said experienced doctors and nurses are on hand to carefully vet cancer stories and make sure fraud will not snatch checks away from the intended recipients.

Jan Andrada Lane, who is  the VP for communication affairs and the Event Chair, expressed thanks to all who came to the  fundraiser.

“The fashion show is a celebration of life in all its beauty and color,” she said, adding that everyone who came to watch the show  is “living proof that courage can overcome cancer.”

Photos by RJ Ensalada; Troi Santos

Catering by Kay Habana

Hair and Makeup by Victor Palmos; Xenia Robido-Mata

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