Q&A With Barbara Bates

Barbara Bates
Barbara Bates

Barbara Bates is a fashion designer. She is a native Chicagoan and her career started while she was working in an office and women began to admire her clothes asking where did you get that dress. A career was formed call Bate Designs. She has designed for Chicago’s most fashionable to include the likes of Michael Jordan and Oprah Winfrey. Her studio is located in the South Loop. In 2009 she was diagnosed wth breast cancer and her world changed. She is cancer free and has dedicated the Barbara Bates Foundaiton to raising the awareness of breast cancer among women, She is hosting a Breast/Cancer Walk/Run on August 19.

Barbara you are a fashion designer, how did you get involved with breast cancer?

I was diagnosed with breast cancaer in 2009. I was shocked. I thought I was intelligent and knew about breast cancer. I want more woman to know that breast cancer is prevalent and I want them to have education on who is at risk.

What was your personal experience with breast cancer and what advice do you have for women?

I had a lumpectomy, chemo and radiation. was not gettting mammograms. I didn’t think I was at risk. I believed that mostly white woman got breast cancer, I thought big breast women were at risk, or that you had to have family history. All of this was FALSE. I found out later that many women whom i knew where survivors, however, it was a private matter for them.

Tell me about the Barbara Bates Foundation? What is its mission and goals?

Barbara Bates
Barbara Bates design

The foundation was born out of one of my many obstacles in life….being a teen mom was rough in my day. I was able to go to an alternative school and stay on course in high school. I actually came out of high school a year early. After my career gained some news coverage, I received a call from a young lady who said she remembered me from the alternative school (FAMILY LIVING CENTER), and that she now worked with teen moms and wanted me to address them. That was the beginning. When I spoke to the young teen expecting moms/some already moms, I wanted them to know that I was the same as them. I came from the inner city, and I know anything is possible. I wanted to give back and what came from that experience is my prom dress giveaway. The foundation was birthed to inspire teen moms, then it expanded to inspire and motivate teen girls and boys. My company provided custom prom attire to deserving young people. Ad now next on the journey is breast cancer. I decided to use what I love doing (fashion) and have a fashion show that would feature all breast cancer survivors as models and the money raised would go to an inner city hospital.

How are you involved with Mt. Sinani Hospital?

After I received my treatment, I wanted to give back. I went to Northwestern, where I had treatment to establish a fashion show. I wanted have the show at Northwestern in one of their rooms. I wanted to do a fashion show for women. I also wanted to connect to the hospital across the street from where I live that goes unrecognized often. The first fundraise goal was $50,000. I wanted to give money to an inner city hospital. I chose Sinai as the hospital that would receive the monies raised. The Fashion Show has become an annual event. The first 50,000 went directly for a program into the community to bring women into the hospital for a mammogram. The first walk, had 200 participants, the second had 600 and the third walk experienced a rain storm and we had 300. This year we expect 1000 participants.

A Bates Design

And now today we are looking at the Bates foundation raising $590,000 over the last 5 years for Sinai with the Fashion Shows and the Breast Cancer Walk. Sinai is committed to the community and has been there for almost 100 years.

The Barbara Bates Foundation Women’s Imaging Center will be housed at Sinai in a new building, The Segal Building. On the second floor the Barbara Bates Imaging Center will live. It will be a room of comfort and high tech for dignity and it will open in the fall of 2017. Douglas Park sits directly across the street from Mt. Sinai. It is a perfect fit.

Do you think it is important for a woman to have an annual mammogram?

It is absolutely IMPERATIVE, that women have an annual mammogram. There are many services in place to provide free screening if one doesn’t have insurance. Mount Sinai Hospital is one of those places.

What is your favorite color?

Ummmm. I suppose BLACK…..

How did the “Cancer Walk” began?

It was established in 2012. It was the brainstorm from my girl friend Darlene Brooks. Her sister is a cancer survivor and she helps with the fundraise. I thought it was a good idea and we began to put the logistics together. I mentioned the walk to Robin Robinson and she said let’s do it, We should walk where we live and that became the title of the walk. Many of the breast cancer walks are held downtown and they reveive amazing attendance and sponsorhips. I would like to see that happen in our neighborhood. The walk is directly across the street from Sinai at Douglas Park. It services the community that is largely black and latino…We are the ones at risk, yet more white woman get breast cancer, however, black and latin woman have the largest death rates. W e have to stand together against this deady disease that ravishes our community.

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