This Saturday evening in Miami, if you have nothing penciled in, boy do I have the perfect plan for you. A few years ago, Ani Sierra introduced me to Natalie Papadam. As I noted in a past blog when I was the Lifestyle Editor of HauteLiving.com
“calling her beautiful and kind would be an understatement.”
As I sit I Mexico City with chills still running up my spine, let me tell you a story of a girl, right around my age, who is my HERO. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the term hero means 1. a : a mythological or legendary figure often of divine descent endowed with great strength or ability. b : an illustrious warrior. c : a man admired for his achievements and noble qualities.
Here is her story, which has changed a bit since we first met a few years ago, but on Saturday, I encourage you to attend the Team Nat Foundation fundraiser at Palm Court in the Design District for our local friend, sister, neighbor: Natalie, a gorgeous woman whom grew up in South Miami with a close-knit group of girlfriends, just like we all tend to have. The only difference between Natalie’s group of friends and mine is: among Natalie’s friends, is one who was diagnosed with an extremely rare form of cancer the week of her 30th birthday. That girl is Natalie and she took my breath away, hence me sharing her story.
The Team Nat Foundation was founded by the group of girls who were closest to Natalie. Each of these local girls including Adriana Liao Vilhena, Cristina Lago, Maria Elisa Muñoz Jessica Villar Signorini, Victoria Diaz De Villegas, Kellie Camacho and Elizabeth Delgado stood by her side during treatment, to encourage her and give her strength during her treatment.
Adriana of Team Nat tells me “on January 2, 2012, our friend Natalie was diagnosed with malignant paraganglioma and pheochromocytoma, a rare and aggressive neuroendocrine tumor. Unbeknownst to her and undetected, Natalie’s body had multiple inoperable tumors. Two days after celebrating her 30th birthday, Natalie complained to her doctor friend about abdominal bloating and lower back pain. She was instructed to get an X-ray, however, the results did not find anything. In a matter of 48-hours her symptoms worsened and Natalie began to have difficulty breathing. She went to the hospital and was admitted into Northwestern’s Intensive Care Unit, with her heart and lungs in distress. Natalie was intubated, and in the process her trachea was ruptured due to the unknown presence of tumors. From that moment forward, her life changed forever. Natalie was diagnosed with cancer while on life support. A week later, while Natalie was still on life support, the decision was made to start chemotherapy immediately. It was a risky decision since Natalie was still recovering from her tracheal surgery, but her cancer was so aggressive and advanced that there was no time to waste, the tumors were large and had metastasized. Now, after nine rounds of chemotherapy, Natalie’s tumors have decreased by 50% in size and according to her doctors, she is exhibiting one of the most positive responses ever seen in a patient with malignant paraganglioma.
Natalie’s cancer came back, and she is currently stable and optimistic, telling me she looks great from the outside but not completely cured on the inside…however, she will keep fighting and through the strength of her friends and family. She just moved back to Miami from Chicago, after her incredible mother and best friend passed away just last year.
The Team Nat Girls threw their second annual event at the M Building (formerly Emmanuel Perrotin Gallery) and it was one of those events that was beyond memorable. A gorgeous group including Maria Elisa Muñoz, Lidia Pefaur, Polar Pefaur, Andre Papadam, Nicholas Patino, Hobi Linhares, Georgina Corona, Javier Herrera, Rick Arce, Kristen Gonzalez, Diana Rodriguez, Nancy Clay, Maria Gonzalez, Diana Chica, Diana Diaz, Jessica Patino, Lizzie Nuell, Andrea Portela, Caro Toledo, Laura Ledon, Amanda Codina and Carla Defortuna gathered for the soiree. Approximately three hundred Chanel clad women and handsome men came to celebrate Nat, and many were faces that were unfamiliar but left me mesmerized. Having raised over $40,000 dollars, people sipped on cocktails, socialized and listened to guest speaker Dr. Camilo Jimenez from The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. Dr. Jimenez is an Associate Professor of Endocrine Neoplasia and Hormonal Disorders. He has performed extensive clinical research in the field of endocrine cancer with a particular interest in pheochromocytomas and paragangliomas. Then they celebrated life with tunes by DJ Jeff Wool.
This year, this Saturday, on November 14th, The Team Nat Foundation will be hosting its 4th event at The Palm Court in the Design District to help fight #neuroendocrinecancer. I can not wait toes what the evening entails, aside from the cocktails, canapés, and a luxurious silent auction where all proceeds raise awareness and bring us closer to a cure. Buy your tickets at :
**ALL PROCEEDS GO TO MD ANDERSON CANCER CENTER