survivor Debi Balistrieri (left) will be escorted by her
sister, Lorie Greenberg, when she walks the runway at Gilda’s
Club’s Show of Support fund-raiser.
Debi Balistrieri has beaten breast
Her sister, Mardele Reichwald, was less
fortunate. She did not survive the disease.
"The first time I found out I had
cancer, my sister learned six months later that she had it, too,"
Balistrieri says. "That was 10 years ago. I made it and she didn’t."
That frightening coincidence now has
Balistrieri’s two other sisters, Lisa Ausprung, of Oconomowoc, and
Lorie Greenberg, of Long Island, N.Y., participating in a research
study to analyze a person’s genetic predisposition to contract the
Meanwhile, Balistrieri is one of the
regulars at Gilda’s Club of Southeastern Wisconsin, located in
Shorewood. The 325-member organization provides emotional and social
support to those into whose lives cancer has invaded. It is among the
20 Gilda’s Clubs founded in cities throughout the country in honor
of the late comedian Gilda Radner. More than 1,000 men, women and
children in Wisconsin — cancer patients, members of their families
and their friends — are estimated to benefit from its programs.
Balistrieri is an ardent proponent of aroma therapy and lectured at
Gilda’s last summer on the healing power of essential oils.
Balistrieri, who works at Molloy’s
boutique in Fox Point, was among 15 cancer survivors who modeled
in the club’s Show of Support Fashion Show and fund-raiser April 5
at the Italian Community Center in Milwaukee.
Each model was asked to choose someone
to accompany them when walking the fashion show runway. Balistrieri
selected her sister, Lorie Greenberg. "She empowered me to take
more control of my life, especially the second time I had
cancer," Balistrieri says.
"She empowered me and now I want
to show other women that you can live and things can be OK. It doesn’t
mean you are always going to die because you had a recurrence."