Goal is $25k for breast cancer cure

Breast cancer research advocate Nilo Ghandehari began eight years ago with a small backyard fundraiser, about $400 in donations and a goal to give young people a way to get involved.

Now in its eighth year, the annual OC Breast Cancer Fundraiser aims to raise $25,000 and award one deserving survivor with free reconstructive breast surgery.

Ghandehari, 27, was moved to action when a close friend's mother, who she described as "my mentor and my world," was diagnosed with and survived breast cancer.

"When I watched breast cancer take over her femininity and take over her spirit, it really sparked my interest that I had to do something," said Ghandehari, a Corona del Mar resident.

The April 2 event will be the first time the Magic Mirror award, named after the Newport Beach nonprofit organization that will provide the reconstructive surgery pro bono, is awarded to a breast cancer survivor.

"The breast is such an important part of our femininity in our society, going all the way back through history of civilization," said plastic surgeon Dr. Michael Niccole, medical director of CosmetiCare in Newport Beach.

Niccole founded the Magic Mirror Foundation 20 years ago to aid children who were victims of physical abuse and suffered various types of disfigurements. This will be the first year that the organization has joined in the fight against breast cancer, he said.

The surgery will be awarded to a breast cancer survivor who does not have insurance to pay for reconstructive surgery and expresses the need to have the reconstructive surgery in order to feel whole again, he said.

"Some patients will have a mastectomy and feel good and think to themselves, 'Thank God I'm alive,'" Niccole said. "But then there's other patients … it's such an individual thing."

The cost of the surgery could range from $5,000 to $30,000, depending on the extent of the damage, but there will be no cap on the cost of the surgery for the woman selected, he said.

"It's no different than if you lost your arm," Niccole said. "Only if they could have that reconstructed again, it would mean the world to them."

Nominations for the award can be submitted though 10 a.m. Wednesday via the OC Breast Cancer Fundraiser webpage, http://www.ocbreastcancerfundraiser.com.

Although only one woman will be able to receive the award this year, both Ghandehari and Niccole expressed that they would like to see more women helped per year in the future.

More than 400 people are expected to attend the event held at Sutra in Costa Mesa, which Ghandehari organizes through her event production company, Kapture Vision.

All of the donations from the event go directly to the Orange County affiliate of the Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation, she said.

If You Go

What: The 8th Annual OC Breast Cancer Fundraiser

When: 6 p.m., April 2

Where: Sutra, 1870 Harbor Boulevard, Costa Mesa

Tickets: $25 advance donation, $30 at the door

RSVP: http://www.ocbreastcancerfundraiser.com

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